Having previously reviewed the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, we take a look at how it measures up as a successor to the M2 Aqua. 

The battle of Sony middleweight handsets pit the company’s core fundamentals in camera quality, solid waterproof design, unique features and  bang for your buck against each other – this has never been truer than in the Sony Xperia M range, of which the M2 and M4 are the two most recent release.

Here, we look at both handsets and check out what advances in design have been made with the M4 Aqua.
 

Waterproof design


When introduced to the market in 2014, the Xperia M2 Aqua was an extremely attractive proposition; spec-wise it stood out against its closed competitors. A 4.8-inch screen and 8MP camera, wrapped in a sleek design reminiscent of Sony’s original Xperia Z series, at the time, the M2 had a lot to offer anyone with significant requirements from their smartphone but a tight budget.

However, although the M2 holds up its water resistant claims, it relies heavily on ensuring the charger, SIM and memory slots are firmly closed, which is something that is often overlooked by busy users.

The M4 Aqua, on the other hand, uses Sony’s latest waterproof advancements – on the back of the release of Sony flagship Z3 smartphone – and works hard to overcome the M2’s shortfalls. The design is the first standout enhancement on the M4; it comes with a larger 5-inch screen of tempered glass with a thinner elegant aluminium frame weighting 13 grams less than the M2. The inclusion of these higher quality materials in the M4 offers a notable difference when you’re holding the two phones in your hands.

Xperia M4 Aqua waterproof

Camera quality


The M4 comes with a 13MP camera compared to an 8MP camera on the M2 – however you’ll find a number of additional camera features normally reserved for Sony’s premium handsets on both phones.
 
These include an LED flash, Full HD video recording, superior auto mode, with Steadyshot image stabilisation for video.

Comparing front cameras, the Xperia M4 Aqua comes out on top with a 5MP sensor, while the M2 Aqua carries a much more modest 1.1MP lens.
 

Performance


Both phones offer good processing power for mid-range handsets; however you will find a slight upgrade on the M4 with the addition of a 1 and 1.5 Ghz Octa-Core Snapdragon processor, which out muscles the M2 Aqua’s Snapdragon Quad-Core at 1.2 Ghz processor. The M2 also falls behind with its 1GB of RAM, compared to 2GB on the M4.

On the M4 this extra RAM and improved processor means apps generally load quickly and it performs better during heavy use; however, flipping between tasks and screens runs smoothly on both phones and both offer a reliable performance.

As for battery life, the M4 Aqua easily lasts the day and if you're a restrained user you should get at least a day and a half out of the battery. The M2 doesn’t perform as well here, offering a day’s use on a full charge and slightly less if you’re using the phone for video/music streaming.

In terms of operating system, the M4 comes with latest version of Android (5.0 Lollipop) while the M2 comes with Android 4.4 KitKat and is still awaiting the update to the newer software.

Connectivity is practically the same, with only minimal Bluetooth improvements on the M4. Lastly, both phones offer 3G and 4G connectivity along with Wi-Fi and GPS.
 

Verdict


Sony Xperia M4 Aqua So which phone comes out on top? Well it’s actually pretty close. Both offer great value for money – the M2 Aqua was the first budget water resistant smartphone to hit the market and Sony has continued to grow on its success with the introduction of the M4 Aqua, which again comes in at just over €200 on pre pay.

However, undoubtedly you’re going to get more bang for your buck in terms of specs on the M4 – an improved camera, lighter design, faster processor and better battery power makes the newer model a better all-rounder.

If you're a fan of Sony's mobile design but can't afford the pricey Xperia Z3, the M4 Aqua is a likable alternative at a fraction of the price. Buy it here.