A powerful smartphone beyond the price war

Chinese mobile manufacturing companies came to India and defeated every company. This in itself is unimaginable and also a reality. We have mentioned this so many times that it is becoming tiresome. But this is the truth, and these companies are also deciding the market strategy. It is on the roadmap of these companies that India’s smallest companies and multinational brands are presenting their products.

Some companies have suffered huge losses by joining this race, but Sony has had a stubborn attitude regarding the specifications and price of its products. In such a situation, do not expect any flagship product from this Japanese company in the price segment that is half the current price. For this reason, at first glance, Sony’s Xperia M4 Aqua Dual smartphone appears to lag behind its lower priced handsets. So we tried to find out how Sony can survive in this race and we came to a very surprising result.

Look and Design
Xperia M4 Aqua Dual is a phone made of plastic and glass with flat back and curved sides. The white and coral pink versions look good but the black version, which we received for review, looked a bit heavy. The silver brand logo all over the body, a ring around the rear camera lens and the power button on the side look a bit different. If the screen is off then it appears as a glowing black slab.

The phone is slightly curved and the design is matte finished, but due to the flat back, it is not a bit comfortable to hold. This handset is completely sealed, so all ports and slots can be accessed externally. The microSD card slot is on the top left, while the Nano SIM slot is on the top right, both behind rubber-lined flaps.

This is because the biggest feature of Xperia M4 Aqua is that it is waterproof. The IP65 and IP68 ratings mean that nothing will happen to this handset if it is left in 1.5 meter deep fresh water for 30 minutes. Apart from this, it is also dust resistant. Interestingly, Sony has managed to do this without covering the 3.5mm audio port on the top and the micro-USB port on the top left with any flap. The absence of a flap on the micro-USB port is even better, as repeatedly removing and reinserting the flap for charging can be very annoying.

The power button is very small and is placed in the center on the right side, this position is very awkward. Below this there are volume buttons. And at the bottom is the camera shortcut button. The camera button feels good to touch and its position is also given right for using the camera. Sony is now the only company that makes buttons like this and we like that.

Specifications and Software
Snapdragon 615 SoC processor has been used in this phone, which is common for most smartphones these days and their price is also lower than this phone, but this is not enough. With four 1.5GHz cores and four 1GHz cores, this SoC can handle demanding tasks and even save battery when needed. The phone has 2 GB RAM and its internal storage is 16 GB, which can be expanded up to 32 GB via microSD card.

The resolution of the 5-inch screen is 720x1280P. It is less sharp than the full HD screens of other phones available in this price range, but there is practically no loss. Everything is still sharp and this screen is much better in terms of color reproduction and viewing angles.

The handset has features like Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS, FM radio and NFC. The 2300MHz band used in India’s 4G network can be accessed using a SIM card in both slots. Interestingly, there is no support for USB-OTG storage in the handset. The battery capacity is 2,400mAh, which is pretty good for a device this slim.

This phone is based on Android 5.0 operating system, on which Sony has used its own UI which we liked. Several themes are available, although most are designed to resemble Sony-branded movie or music tie-ins. The company has been doing this in the past when it has overloaded its software to advertise its media products. You’ll find the Sony Liv icon on the homescreen, along with Sony’s Music, Albums, Movies, and PlayStation apps. Another new app is a large widget of What’s New, whose purpose is only advertising. While some of the preloaded apps like Line, Movie Creator, File Commander, Sketch, MobiSystems OfficeSuite, AVG Protection, and TrackID are useful, apps like Xperia Lounge and News from SociaLife are a bit spammy. Very few of these can be uninstalled.

TV SideView is a useful app. This will act as your local TV guide and the app gives you the option to use compatible Sony TVs if you’re on the same network. You can browse shares for media via DLNA network, and enjoy content displayed on Sony’s apps on compatible TVs, Bluetooth and speakers.

Sony’s camera app allows third-party integration, so you can download the app to add a time lapse mode or any other filter in addition to the default Superior Auto, Manual, AR Effect, Creative Effect and Sweep Panorama modes. Apart from this, many famous apps like Vine, CamScanner Phone PDF and Evernote can also be run.

performance
Using the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua Dual was a lot of fun and there are no complaints about its speed or response. Apart from the awkward placement of the buttons, there was no problem in holding and using the handset in one hand. Call quality was excellent and LTE also worked well. We noticed one problem, after a few minutes of normal use, the upper part of the rear side of the phone started getting hot.

The benchmark scores were also good, but not the best results in this price segment. We got a score of 33,097 in AnTuTu test and 16,108 in Quadrant test. It scored a good 22fps in the GFXbench test, while it scored 4,345 points in 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme. Video playback capability was also good and we faced no problem playing even heavy 1080p clips. The sound was quite clear and well balanced, but quite soft even at maximum volume levels.

Battery life in particular was excellent, lasting 9 hours 58 minutes on the video loop test. Sony claims that after fully charging the handset, you can use it for two days. It’s possible, but you won’t have to push yourself too hard with games and web browsing. Amidst all this, it will easily last a day even with heavy usage, so you will not have to worry about keeping a power bank and charger.

The camera emerged as the biggest feature of the phone. Even in complex exposure, the pictures taken with the camera came with details. We were pleased to see that compression and noise artifacts were under control. Even in low light, the camera took pictures with detail, which is not normally seen. Finally we had to test Sony’s claims about the Xperia M4 Aqua being waterproof, so we dropped the phone in a basin filled with tap water for 10 minutes. This phone continued to work even while in water, even after taking it out and wiping it with a towel, there was no problem in using it. The touchscreen doesn’t work underwater but you can use the camera because it has physical buttons. Waterproofing is a great feature in this price range, and you won’t have to worry about it getting wet in the rain or accidentally spilling any liquid on the handset.

our decision
On the basis of specifications alone, this phone does not compete with Oneplus One and other similar handsets, but Sony has given many new features to Xperia M4 Aqua Dual and has made it usable, due to which the price of the phone seems reasonable. It is also true that you are not getting the fastest processor and brilliant screen, but this handset is far ahead in terms of polished product. You are getting features like a good camera, excellent battery life and waterproofing.

If the price was a little lower then the phone market would not have suffered. By the way, the phone is already available at a price slightly lower than its launch price. So keep an eye on the offers. Sony has proven that it can offer a solid smartphone in the market without becoming a part of a price war.

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