I’m getting back to reviews after a long time, I know, but recently I had this interesting phone with me. It was Sony Xperia M4 Aqua. It’s interesting and exciting because it’s waterproof as well as dust resistant and affordable. That’s something you only get on flagships and that too, not all of them.
Following is the account of my experience with M4 Aqua. Seat tight.
When I got this phone, rainy season here was just starting up. M4 Aqua had arrived at just the right time. As usual, I made it my primary phone. Luckily, I went for the trek to one of the highest peaks here where it was the real test for M4 Aqua.
Let’s first get to know the phone itself. By 2015, standards, M4 Aqua is a nice, little phone you’d absolutely comfortable with to carry around. It’s slim enough to hold it comfortably; at the same time, it’s not too thin that it slips out of your hands. The design is similar to Xperia Z3. While its front still (and obviously) has a glass panel, back now uses plastic. That’s not an issue, here. It’s the thick bezels Sony still can’t get rid of on its phones.
On the positive side, M4 Aqua has gotten rid of most of the flaps on its ports except for the SIM and microSD slots. It’s understandable. This a huge improvement. Imagine opening the flap every time you wanted to put your phone on charging or listen to nice songs on your headphones. No more annoyance.
I tested the M4 Aqua for the very purpose it is built for. I deepened it in water, took with me to the shower or just let it rain on the phone. And I had no regrets for doing all that. Isn’t it cool, boy? If I’d any other phone, I would have been extra careful, especially during the rainy reason. With Xperia M4 Aqua, I just didn’t worry about it. Here’s a word of advice, Sony has updated its policy on the waterproof phones which says you SHOULDN’T use waterproof phones when in contact with water. I was lucky.
When I started trekking, clouds were all over us but still not raining. As we started getting closer to the peak, we were welcomed by the fog and not so strong winds. As we went further, rains finally greeted us. They were in no mood to show mercy. Check out my video from the trek. All this while I was clicking photos and shooting videos on M4 Aqua without worrying about the water. It didn’t disappoint. Initially, I didn’t have any expectations from its camera but even through the thick fog it took quite decent photos. Impressive for a phone that costs around $300. Xperia M4 Aqua does what it is supposed to do and does it perfectly.
I will talk about the camera in more details now. Xperia M4 Aqua has a 13MP camera module with an LED flash. It also has dedicated shutter key which is very convenient. It’s non-existent in this segment and rarely found on flagships. I’d problem with the position of the camera. If you ain’t careful, you’ll block its view and ruin your photos.
Although Sony makes camera sensors for rest of the world, it never was a forte of its own phones. But the M4 Aqua took some really nice shots. That shows what Sony can do if it improves its camera software on all its phones. Yet, there’s a lot Sony can improve as far as the image quality is concerned. Camera UI is quite simple to use. It’s neatly arranged and clear.
But let’s just admit it, you’re not going to make your phone meet water every day. It has to be your ‘phone’ first and then everything else. In my day-to-day usage, Xperia M4 Aqua was not as impressive as it was during my trek. Its performance as a smartphone sucked.
There’s not only one thing that’s responsible for this. Although it has octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and 2GB RAM, the processor’s performance is usually capped to avoid heating. Irrespective of the manufacturer and phone, Snapdragon 615 never got badges for performance. Android Lollipop itself has lots of bugs and with Snapdragon 615 it was a disastrous combo. The phone was not as zippy as you’d expect it to be. There were apps crashes too. Give me one thing less but I want my phone to be quick and responsive. The only thing Sony can do is optimize its performance through the software as much as possible.
Sony has taken care of connectivity with dual SIM slots, NFC, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Calling was another aspect of Xperia M4 Aqua, which didn’t leave good impressions. I didn’t have a problem with the signal reception. It was its mic and sometimes earpiece too which weren’t as powerful as you’d expect them to be.
Every Sony phone I used before M4 Aqua had pretty strong battery life. Sony messed that up on this one. Its battery life was disappointing. I’d to be way more conservative with my usage. I was using it with just single SIM and mostly on WiFi, yet I didn’t get what I expected. Who has that much time to care for battery life. We expect our phones to do that for us, right? I just want to leave home with a full battery and don’t worry about charging it again in the middle of the day. Even Sony’s STAMINA mode couldn’t help extend battery life.
So that all was my experience with Xperia M4 Aqua. There is no phone that is flawless, but the M4 Aqua compromises where it shouldn’t.
If you ready to trade off the durability of M4 Aqua, then there’s Moto X Play with almost the same price tag and similar spec sheet. I’m skeptical about its performance too because of Snapdragon 615. But what you’ll get in return is a whopping 3,630 mAh battery.
Waterproofing, dust resistance is all great but above everything else, I want my phone to be perfect as a phone and that’s not something M4 Aqua can do. Sony, if you solve its key issues – calling quality and battery life, you have my money.