Hands-on review: MWC 2014: Sony Xperia M2

The Sony Xperia M2 is the follow up to the popular mid-range handset that saw the company trying a number of different suffixes and hoping one stuck for those that don’t want to spend a lot of money.

When you pick up the Xperia M2, you’re instantly struck with that opinion. It’s not a phone with a lot of style when compared to the likes of the Xperia Z2, but at the same time, it uses the same design language well.

The Omnibalance look (which mostly boils down to the unique power key) is in effect here, and does lend an element of premium packaging to proceedings, bringing a much better phone than the still-popular predecessor, the Xperia M.

The only reason that it doesn’t feel overly premium in the hand is that it’s a slightly chunkier beast, coming in at 8.6mm compared to the razor thin 6.4mm thickness of the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet, for example.

Sony Xperia M2 review

It’s also got a slightly smaller screen than the other premium phones on the market, and that display is packed with fewer pixels. If you’ve never spent a lot of time with a phone that uses an HD screen, then you might not see the problem, but the qHD offering here is definitely sub par compared and looks a little washed out and overexposed.

Still, when it’s shipping for under €220 (around £180 / $300 / AU$335) and can run 4G, Sony thinks that such things won’t matter – and I’m inclined to agree. The phone is solid, has a 4.8-inch screen and an 8.1MP camera that uses a lot of the same trickery as it’s more powerful brothers.

Sony Xperia M2 review

The Exmor RS sensor helps boost the low light performance, and the general speed with which things are done seems pretty good considering it’s only running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset, which is a little low even for a phone at this price.

Sony Xperia M2 review

It’s essentially running the same chipset as the Moto G, an arguably better phone that costs nearly half the price. Sony is trying to chip away at this price lead by bundling in a number of extras (three movies from its store do help somewhat, although the fact you get six with the new Z2 phone and tablet is slightly galling) and 30 days free trial to Sony Music Unlimited.

Sony Xperia M2 review

The Sony Xperia M2, while carrying the same Omnibalance design language that extends to similar amounts of covers to protect the ports, oddly isn’t waterproof as well, which begs the question of why some of those are there.

They do keep the body looking sleeker, but it would have been a great selling point to say you could put the M2 in the dishwasher.

Sony Xperia M2 review

The dedicated camera key is pleasing too, and shows that Sony is still staying true to its promise of keeping this on most Android phone to make it easier to shoot a quick snap when you need to.

Sony Xperia M2 review

The camera app is also pretty well-stocked as it offers the likes of HDR mode as well as the more gimmicky features like TimeShift Burst, which does give the impression that the M2 is a solid part of the Sony family.

Early verdict

It’s very difficult to rate mid-range handsets, because on one hand they seem very poorly-built compared to their high-end brethren, and it’s really tricky to work out if the money you’ll save is worth the drop in build quality.

On the other hand, the likes of the M2 still have a quad-core processor, some nifty technology on board and have more than a modicum of thought gone into the design, so it’s hard to lambast them too hard either.

The presence of the Moto G on the market has forced things to be a bit skewed, as it’s become the benchmark all are judged by. But the Xperia M2 does have the 4G card up its sleeve too, and that could become increasingly important as most of the developed world jacks into that hyperspeed.

In summary: the Sony Xperia M2 is a solid, if unspectacular, phone that ticks the boxes and brings enough of the Japanese brand’s tech to make it feel wanted. However, it’s unlikely to be number one on any prospective buyer’s wishlist.