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Sony Xperia M review

We can't see why you'd choose the Xperia M over its rivals

Our Verdict

The compact Sony Xperia M may be both competent and affordable, but with the low-end competition stronger than ever, it doesn't represent great value for money.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 4 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 10.30 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 480 x 854
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Affordable & lightweight
  • Dedicated camera button
  • Expandable storage
  • Loud speaker

Against

  • Cramped screen & keyboard
  • Old Jelly Bean OS
  • Mediocre camera
  • Very low internal storage
Ratings in depth
Sony Xperia M

Sony Xperia M

Sony Xperia M

Sony Xperia M

Sony Xperia M

Sony was so intent on returning to the top of the smartphone tree in 2013 that it launched two high-end flagship devices. The Sony Xperia Z1 trailed the Sony Xperia Z by just six months.

But this rather misses the fact that the low-end is where all the excitement is with Android right now. The recently launched Sony Xperia L might be seen as Sony's affordable effort, but the likes of the Nokia Lumia 520 and the Motorola Moto G offer a decent smartphone experience for well under the £200 (under $200, AU$230) price point.

Indeed, the Moto G pretty much redefined what a 'cheap' smartphone could be, both in terms of price and performance.

The question the Sony Xperia M has to answer, then, is one that we suspect every affordable smartphone will have to answer in the first half of 2014. Why should you buy one when you can buy a Motorola Moto G for less money?

The answer, we're afraid to say, is that you probably shouldn't. Unless, that is, you want an iPhone-sized screen in a cheap Android shell, or if you demand a physical camera shutter button on your phone.

Sony Xperia M review

Family traits

Sony attracted a fair amount of praise for its 2013 smartphone facelift. By focusing on a severe, almost industrial, sharp-cornered black slab design it managed to stand out from the crowd of me-too iPhone copies and sculpted plastic efforts.

The Sony Xperia M makes a cursory nod to that immediate heritage, but it's hardly a looker. Sony has once again gone with a somewhat anonymous blank-faced design with an all-glass (or mostly glass) front, with a slightly gaudy (but useful) notification strip-light hidden immediately below the screen.

Sony Xperia M
Smaller than many Android phones

The sides and rear of the device are all one plastic component. This can be peeled off via a neat access point built into the ridge of the microUSB port on the upper left hand side. Exposing the Xperia M's innards provides access to its battery, as well as the SIM and microSD slots.

Though this approach is commendably tidy, I almost wish the microSD slot had been made accessible from the outside, as the Xperia M suffers from a cripplingly small amount of internal storage - a frankly pathetic 4GB, which works out to just 2GB of usable space once the OS has had its portion.

Sony Xperia M
The microSD slot is internal

If you have anything less than a 16GB card, I fear you'll be reaching capacity quickly.

Back to external matters, and by making its rear cover encompass so much of the phone, the Xperia M feels pleasantly solid. Turn it over, and the matte finish and blunted corners of the rear panel put us in mind of the recent Nokia Lumia range.

Those silver plastic edge strips just look plain tacky, though, and the tapered shiny plastic front panel surround reminds us of HTC's designs from four years ago.

Sony Xperia M

Sony's ideas about control layout continue in the entry-level Xperia M - that is, keep the front section completely free of physical buttons and plonk some contrastingly chunky examples together on the side.

I quite like this approach. It means that you never have to take your attention away from the screen to press a button, even when you have to interact with one of the virtual controls that takes up a thin band of the display.

Yes, Sony is one of startlingly few manufacturers to adopt Google's own virtual control set-up, but we'll discuss that more a little later.

Sony Xperia M

The side-mounted physical controls do the job far better than most rival offerings. The almost obscenely pronounced power button is as easy to find in a rushed pocket scramble as it is satisfying to press, and its location two-thirds of the way up the device make it fall naturally under your right thumb or left forefinger.

Just below that is the similarly well positioned volume rocker, which has a usefully pronounced concave curve from end to end.

Speaking of concave, the entire rear panel of the Xperia M dips slightly in the middle, with the top section (housing the camera) and the bottom section (housing the speaker) bulging out slightly.

Sony Xperia M
The back is slightly concave

The effect isn't quite as pronounced as that of the Sony Xperia L, but there's clearly some of that phone's DNA in the Xperia M.

At just 115g it's a fair bit lighter than most modern smartphones, and almost matches fellow 4-inch lightweight the iPhone 5S.

Suffice to say that overall, the Sony Xperia M is a solidly built phone that betrays its entry-level position with some less-than-premium components.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory4 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
SAR Value0.86 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyXperia M
Cellular Generation3.9G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSony Mobile
Battery Talk Time10.30 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution480 x 854
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)115 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.1 Jelly Bean
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density245 ppi
Front Camera Resolution300 Kilopixel
Height124 mm
Width62 mm
Depth9.3 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time552 Hour
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product NameXpeira M Smartphone
Processor Speed1 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon S4
Product LineXperia M
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part Number1274-3060
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing InformationDiscover the magic touch to share

Love connecting with the people around you? Then say hi to Xperia M. With NFC-based one-touch functions, this magical smartphone lets you easily share everything from photos to movies, all with the help of a simple touch. Xperia M comes with a large 4" high-quality display that gives you an incredible viewing experience. What else makes this smartphone stand out? Well, how about its carefully selected design details, that are held together by an innovative slim and sleek skeleton frame. Customisable illuminations make this smartphone even more unique, notifying you of incoming calls, Facebook updates and more.

Package Contents
  • Xperia M Smartphone
  • Charger
  • Media Cable
  • Screen Protector
Standard Memory1 GB