​REVIEW: Will Sony’s waterproof Xperia M4 Aqua sink or swim?

Consumers may be slightly confused by the fact that the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is actually the follow-up device to the Xperia M2 Aqua.

Consumers may be slightly confused by the fact that the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is actually the follow-up device to the Xperia M2 Aqua.

That’s right, there was never an M3 device released to the market - it’s almost like Microsoft’s decision to jump from Windows 8 to Windows 10.

But anyways, the Xperia M4 Aqua is one of the first waterproof smartphones to have exposed ports, which means users no longer have to make sure all of the waterproof tabs are securely closed before entering the water.

Throw in the flagship designer looks and you can see why the device has received much fanfare since launch.

The device belongs firmly in the mid-range market however, which happens to be filled with tough competition and even proven flagship makers such as LG have flopped in this space, when pitched against devices such as the Moto G.

So does the device provide enough wow factor to stand out from the crowd?

The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua retains the same great design as Sony’s other flagship devices, but it does compromise in other areas.

There are nice touches on the device, such as the omnibalance power button being located half way along the side of the phone along with a svelte frame.

There is no glass and metal as in Sony’s flagship phones, but Sony have managed to make a plastic handset look and feel anything but - this allows the handset to weigh in at 138g making it nice and light in the hand.

The addition of a dedicated camera button is another nice touch on a mid-range handset, but the water-proofing is where the phone stands out the most.

The only two covered ports are the SIM and microSD slots. As these are generally left closed permanently as with the majority of other handsets there is literally no need to worry about your phone getting wet.

Life underwater is a slightly different prospect as the fact the handset is not a flagship becomes evident. The touchscreen does not react properly all of the time and even the dedicated camera button becomes unresponsive.

The phone makes up for this with its hardware, as it is one of the first handsets to operate with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octa-Core 64-bit processor. There’s also 2GB of RAM, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 and 8GB of internal storage.

This will instantly become a hindrance to users as this translates to roughly 1GB of internal storage once the device is up and running – thank goodness for that microSD slot which will support up to 128GB.

The screen measures in at 5in and provides a 720p display at 294ppi. The colour reproduction is good along with brightness and viewing angles.

The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua offers a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front facing camera, which puts it in the same group as the Lumia 640XL and the Moto G.

As expected, the device captures its best images during daylight, but still struggles to reproduce true colours and sharp images.

Battery performance helps save the day and is a mainstay of other Sony devices. The use of the Snapdragon 615, 2GB of RAM and the 720p display provides great efficiency and the handset can easily withstand a full days use before reaching for the charger.

The device runs Android 5.0 lollipop out of the box, but soon updates to 5.1 and comes with Sony’s usual UI. This all manages to run smoothly, despite Sony cramming in the majority of their own apps and shortcuts.

Retailing at NZ$499 sim-free the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is a compelling choice for users looking for a solid device that most people will think cost you double what you paid.

However, camera performance and the fact that the handset IS made of plastic does let the handset down.

If images are not important to you and you like to take your phone to literally go everywhere you do - this is the device for you.

By David Williams - Reviews Editor

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