Introduction

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua will give you all the water resistance you need. That's more than enough for marketing to work with, but they'll need to work hard nonetheless. You see, it's otherwise a well familiar package. So, Sony will take you to the water but will they make you drink?

Although we can safely do without expectation management, the Aqua shouldn't be construed as an upgrade. It's more of a special waterproofed edition of the regular M2, which took care of the upgrades just fine, a few months back. The Aqua will serve a small niche but, luckily, not one that's packed with competitors. The Xperia M2 Aqua has the highest water-resistance rating for a mass-market smartphone. That's something very few, besides Sonim, can match. Yes, it's that serious.


Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

And for the users who don't care about water resistance, the Xperia M2 will gladly provide the rest. We're talking the same camera, chipset, screen and battery - in a package that's virtually the same size. With the regular M2 eligible for a KitKat upgrade, and already getting it in certain places, the water resistance is the only notable change by way of specs. Here they go anyway.

Key features

  • 4.8" IPS LCD, 540 x 960px, 229ppi, Gorilla Glass 3, ambient light sensor
  • LTE connectivity
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Xperia UI on top
  • IP68 certified - dust and water proof up to 1.5 meter and 30 minutes
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset with quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 processor, Adreno 305 GPU and 1GB of RAM
  • 8MP camera, single LED flash, 1080p video recording, dedicated hardware shutter key
  • VGA front-facing camera with video recording
  • 8GB of built-in storage, expandable via the microSD card slot
  • Active noise cancellation with a secondary microphone
  • 2,300mAh battery; STAMINA Power Saving Mode

Main disadvantages

  • Low screen resolution for the size
  • Non user-replaceable battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack has a flap (unlike most other waterproof phones)

Snapdragon 400 is a popular choice with this generation of Sony midrangers and that makes sense - it's what the competition's been doing for a while now. A Snapdragon 400 and a qHD screen are last season's minis' specs - to be on the safe side, Sony should price the Aqua comfortably below the new crop, which boast HD screens.

In fact, some rivals manage a 720p screen with a Snapdragon 400 chipset. What if Sony wasn't busy plugging the Xperia M2's holes and went for a higher screen resolution? Maybe they thought they had enough supply of those in the T2 phablet, the C3 and the T3, the still relevant SP.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua at HQ

Anyway, we cannot judge a device solely on specs, especially with the price tag still unknown. Let's get busy testing and see if the original Xperia M2 just got more outdoorsy or there's more to it than we can see on the surface.

Retail package

Our pre-market unit of the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua came unpackaged but we did get some accessories with it - a microUSB 2.0 cable and an A/C adapter. A retail copy will probably have headphones as well but it's not to be taken for granted these days.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Retail contents

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 360-degree spin

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is identical to its predecessor in terms of size and looks. Just a fraction of a millimeter taller and wider, at the same 8.6mm of thickness. A single gram was added to the weight - the IP certification didn't bring about any extra bulk but called for a few changes on the body. For starters, the microUSB port and 3.5mm headphone jack have been sealed with water-tight lids.

Another change, which doesn't appear to have anything to do with the Xperia M2 Aqua being water-proof, is the back. Instead of the reflective glossy plastic of the Xperia M2's rear, Sony has opted for a matte, frosted-glass-like finish. The plastic feels much better to the touch, takes fewer smudges, and feels less scratch-prone.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Rear panel comparison

Design and handling

The design of the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is untouched. The Omnibalance aesthetic has carried the company through several generations - still perfectly relevant in a midrange context. Flat front and rear with a metal frame to hold the pieces together. The sides have matte finish for proper grip. The corners are subtly rounded at the very point, the sole exception in an otherwise very sharp, rectangular outline.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua isn't the most compact of devices, a little bigger than even some 5" phones, but still usable single-handedly. The thickness isn't overwhelming but the weight is something you'll notice.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Handling the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Handling the Xperia M2 Aqua is comfortable. The squared-off corners of the device are a little sharp on the palm but Sony's choice of slightly rounded edges with rubberized bits helps in this regard.

Controls

The Sony Xperia M2 has pretty much the same controls as most of the Xperia smartphones released over the past year or so and the same layout as the Xperia M2. Above the screen we find the VGA camera, a couple of sensors, the earpiece and a small status LED.

Gone is the LED strip at the bottom that matched the dominant color on the current screen. There's just the tiny LED next to the earpiece. It won't be missed much anyway.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The front of the phone

The right side has a half-press physical shutter button, a volume rocker and an aluminum power button, that's become a Sony staple.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The right side of the phone

The microSIM and microSD card slots are located above the power button, under plastic covers.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Slots on the right side

The microUSB port is no longer out in the open and supports the water resistance claims with a flap of its own.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The left side

The 3.5mm audio jack is on top as usual but this time with a water-tight lid as well. We would've preferred a water-proof jack like on most IP-certified phones - but the Aqua's IP68 rating obviously calls for more heavy-duty insulation. That said, the 8 in that code stands for submersion beyond 1m. Although there's no limit specified, Sony are probably playing it safe by committing to protection only at up to 1.5m depth.

The bottom of the Xperia M2 Aqua seems empty, but in fact the primary microphone and the loudspeaker are hiding behind a fine grille. The lanyard eyelet is also around.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Top and bottom

The matte rear features the 8MP camera lens with a single LED flash, the NFC connection point and the secondary noise-reducing microphone.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The back

4.8" non-Retina display

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua has a 4.8" LCD display like its predecessor, only this time an IPS unit. The panel has qHD resolution (540 x 960px) for a decent, even if hardly spectacular, 229ppi sharpness. It is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3, though the absence of oleophobic coating makes fingerprints a problem. The surface is hard to clean.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua screen

As on the original Xperia M2, the color rendering looks okay but a colder white balance results in a bluish tint. The viewing angles are better than on the original as the Aqua features an IPS matrix which should reduce contrast loss considerably.

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua posted good scores in our display test. At 50% brightness the screen is well-lit and contrast was impressive. At 100% brightness the contrast got even better and brightness was very good.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Sony Xperia M2 0.33 325 989 0.64 643 1000
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 0.26 247 960 0.44 531 1094
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 226 432
Motorola Moto G 0.35 315 906 0.57 550 967
Motorola Moto G 4G 0.42 387 916 0.7 651 929
LG G2 mini 0.12 91 752 0.52 398 748


The outdoor visibility test didn't show an overly good result from the Xperia M2 Aqua. The screen is bright and contrasty but the screen glass turned out very reflective and as a result you'll need to cover the screen to see anything on it on the outside.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows _phone_ 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery life

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua has the same battery capacity of 2,300mAh but comes with a better-optimized Android 4.4.2 KitKat compared to the 4.3 Jelly Bean with which we tested the Sony Xperia M2. It turns out, there's enough of a difference made. The Aqua got 9 hours more for a total of 76 hours.

The web browsing and video playback tests got about an hour less each compared to the Xperia M2 but with a stellar 350 hour stand by the Xperia M2 Aqua managed to get 4 hours more than its predecessor.

We didn't even go into Stamina mode. It helps you extend your battery life by toggling things like Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth screen brightness, auto sync and background data on and off automatically when the battery charge falls below a certain user-defined threshold. You can also turn off the Wi-Fi receiver if there is no saved Wi-Fi network in range or turn off mobile data when the screen is off, among other things.

Connectivity

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua comes in a single SIM version only. Perhaps Sony will add a dual-SIM version - if they get around another slot to water proof. The Xperia M2 Aqua has quad-band GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, tri-band 850 / 900 / 2100 or quad-band 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 HSDPA (depending on the market), and either penta 700 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600 or hexa-band 800 / 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 LTE.

The rest of the connectivity features include dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Wi-Fi Direct. There is also support for Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS, plus an FM radio with RDS. There is also NFC connectivity with support for Android Beam for sending files to other Android devices.

The ultra-low power ANT+ connectivity protocol handles connections to various sports accessories such as heart rate monitors or bicycle speed & cadence meters.

There is a microUSB 2.0 port for charging and data connections. Media transfer mode is supported for accessing the phone's built-in memory and microSD card over the USB cable.

The microUSB 2.0 port can also be used in On-the-go mode for connecting USB peripherals such as pen drives, keyboards or real USB hard drives.

The microUSB port doesn't have any wired TV-out functionality, but if you own a compatible HDTV, you can output your phone's screen wirelessly via the Miracast protocol.

KitKat, finally

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua comes with Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box and is an improvement over the 4.3 Jelly Bean that came preloaded on the Xperia M2 when it first launched. The launcher of the Xperia M2 Aqua looks identical to what you would see on any other KitKat Xperia smartphone, like the Xperia Z2.

Here's a demo of what the Xperia M2 Aqua can do.

The lockscreen is the usual affair - it supports widgets (one per pane), while the rightmost pane will fire up the camera. There are a few available default widgets, but you can always get more from the Play Store. Also third party apps oftentimes come with their own set of extra widgets.

Naturally, you can protect your lockscreen by Face, Pattern, PIN or Password unlock, in ascending order of security.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The lockscreen

The Xperia M2 Aqua lets you add or remove homescreen panes (you start with five) and set any of them as default. You can't have more than seven panes at any given time though, nor can you change the order they're in.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Xperia homescreen

Adding stuff on the homescreen is easy, as it is the customization. You can set various live and static wallpapers, add widgets and shortcut, or change the UI theme.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Managing homescreens • Themes

The notification area loses the quick toggles, but don't you worry, they've been just moved on a separate tab. You can gain quick access to the Quick Settings tab with a two-finger swipe from the top. The toggles are customizable and you can choose between 20+ different toggles and have up to 12 of them visible in their dedicated page.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Notification area

The app drawer is laid out across multiple pages and you can sort the apps manually, alphabetically, by the most used or most recently installed. The menu with those settings is accessible via a swipe from the left edge of the screen and you can also search and even uninstall apps from there.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

App drawer

The Xperia M2 Aqua uses the stock Android task manager that lets you switch between recently opened apps, as well as terminate them with a side-swipe.

The so-called "small apps" are also available in the Xperia M2 Aqua and are accessible via the task manager. They are similar to Samsung's Mini Apps, and pop up tiny widget-like applications on your homescreen, which you can move around and use without having to open the full-fledged app. So far, there's a default set of nine: Active Clip, Chrome Bookmarks, Browser, Calculator, Calendar, Gmail, Timer, Notes, and Touch Lock. You can launch only one instance of a Small App, but you can open multiple Small Apps simultaneously.

You can download more Small Apps off the Play Store or use the option to turn your favorite widgets into Small Apps. Just hit the Plus key at the top of the list and choose a widget.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Task switcher

Naturally, you can access Google Now by swiping from the bottom of the UI. There's another shortcut right next to the Google Now launch key called What's new. This app has very beautiful UI and will show you the hottest apps and multimedia today, but it isn't limited to the Play Store only. It'll display content from Sony's PlayStation store too.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony's what's new

Finally, Google Now integrates with your Google account and can access your daily routine, internet searches, email, etc. and give you information relevant to your interests and daily needs.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua has a second-generation Snapdragon 400 with a quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 processor, Adreno 305 GPU and a lowly 1GB of RAM - all on par with its predecessor. The one thing that's most notably changed is the software - we tested the Sony Xperia M2 running on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean but the Xperia M2 Aqua has 4.4.2 KitKat - that should bring some improvements to benchmarks, especially in the HTML 5 and JavaScript performance.

First off, we focus on the CPU and overall benchmarks we have in our arsenal. GeekBench 3 shows the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua as a middling performer, a little better than its predecessor. AnTuTu 4 shows a good result, only topped by the Xperia T3 (which has the same chipset). Basemark OS II gives an overall CPU score and finally breaks down the single and multi-core performance of smartphones. The CPU gig a fine job, besting the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini and even doubled the poor score of the Xperia M2. The Cortex-A7 cores inside the Snapdragon 400 of the Xperia M2 Aqua didn't show good scores in the single and multi-core tests, though.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • HTC One mini 2
    1526
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1373
  • LG G2 mini
    1123
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    1123
  • Motorola Moto G
    1120
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1106
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1074
  • HTC One mini
    887

AnTuTu 4

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia T3
    20282
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    18829
  • HTC One mini 2
    17883
  • Sony Xperia M2
    17808
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    17753
  • LG G2 mini
    17362
  • Motorola Moto G
    17214
  • HTC One mini
    11434

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G
    559
  • Sony Xperia T3
    535
  • HTC One mini 2
    517
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    452
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    419
  • Sony Xperia M2
    298
  • HTC One mini
    257

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia T3
    1465
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    1353
  • HTC One mini 2
    1304
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1164
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1131

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia T3
    5759
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    5283
  • HTC One mini 2
    5182
  • Sony Xperia M2
    4927
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    4887

Moving on to graphics-intensive tests. GFXBench has two tests both running on 1080p resolution for the offscreen test, the onscreen one naturally uses the 540 x 960 resolution of the Xperia M2 Aqua's display. The Adreno 305 is too low-powered to show any serious framerates in these tests - the only significant score being the 15.5fps on the onscreen 2.7 T-Rex test. The rest of the results are pretty low and overall don't reach smooth 30fps territory. Still the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua reached fps about on par with its competition.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    6.7
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6
  • Sony Xperia M2
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    5.9
  • LG G2 mini
    5.8
  • HTC One mini 2
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G
    5.6
  • HTC One mini
    5.6

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    15.5
  • Sony Xperia M2
    15.4
  • LG G2 mini
    14.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    11.2
  • HTC One mini 2
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    9.3

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1.8
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.7
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.7

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia M2
    6.9
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    4.2
  • HTC One mini 2
    3.8

Finally, we come to JavaScript and HTML 5 performance where we have Mozilla's Kraken 1.1 and Rightware's BrowserMark 2.1. JavaScript performance seems improved on the Aqua compared to the Xperia M2 but HTML 5 performance is about the same (a little worse). Overall we see comparable scores again.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Sony Xperia T3
    13738
  • HTC One mini 2
    15684
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    15885
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    16129
  • Sony Xperia M2
    18047

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia T3
    978
  • HTC One mini 2
    945
  • Sony Xperia M2
    903
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    883
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    861

The Snapdragon 400 seems to be the maker's favorite chipset when creating midrange devices but is starting to show its age now and we're starting to look forward to better SoCs like the 64-bit Snapdragon 410 to make mass appearance on the midrangers of tomorrow.

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua didn't rock the leaderboards but it did an okay job nonetheless and we can hardly complain about its real-world performance.

Phonebook

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua phonebook is integrated with the dialer using a tabbed interface - the Contacts, Phone, Favorites and Groups tabs can be side-swiped. The contact list has a dedicated search filed plus it offers and an alphabetical scroll bar.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Phonebook

You can sync with multiple accounts, including Exchange and Facebook, and you can selectively show or hide contacts from some accounts (as well as filter specific groups in an account), or set the phonebook to display only contacts with _phone_ numbers or only contacts that are online.

Linking contacts is available, quick contact feature is here too.

Telephony

Calling on the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is okay. It held onto signal just fine even in tight urban spaces and the sound coming from the speaker was loud enough. The clarity is only average on our side while the other line reported we came in fine enough.

The dialer support smart dialing.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Dialer

Loudspeaker is only average

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua scored an Average on our loudspeaker test. The phone rings loud enough but the sound that came out of its speaker was disappointing and muffled. We guess the water-proofing took its toll here but it's not as bad as you can imagine. The Xperia M2 was not among the loudest ringers either.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
LG G2 mini 65.2 67.7 64.6 Below Average
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 66.3 66.2 72.7 Average
Sony Xperia M2 66.6 66.7 75.7 Good
HTC One mini 2 69.3 66.6 75.9 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini 73.5 67.7 78.7 Very Good
Motorola Moto G 81.6 75.7 82.7 Excellent


You can find out more about our testing here.

Messaging and email, text input

Text messages and MMS use standard thread layout. Adding multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.) will convert the message automatically into an MMS.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Messenger

Naturally, the Gmail client and the default Email apps are onboard. Gmail can sync only with (multiple) Google accounts, while the generic Email app can handle POP and IMAP and offers a Combined inbox.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Gmail and Email

As for text input, the Xperia M2 Aqua offers a customizable on-screen full QWERTY keyboard.

You can choose a different layout (keypad, QWERTY, QWERTY with extra symbols), add/remove the coma and period button, the smiley and voice input buttons and also enable things like bilingual word suggestions if you have more than one language enabled. Different keyboard skins are available too.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Keyboard

You can also try the so-called Gesture input if hitting those keys individually doesn't give you the desired typing speed. It's similar to Swype, and even if you've never used a Swype-like input before, you'll quickly get used to it.

Single-hand size keyboard is available too, but only in portrait orientation. If enabled, it squeezes the onscreen keyboard to the left or right side of the screen so it gets more comfortable for single handed text input.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Single-handed keyboard

Album

We should all be familiar with Sony's custom gallery - Album. It organizes images into groups of thumbnails and sorted by date. You can change the thumbnails size by pinching.

Unlike previous versions there isn't a homepage that hosts all of your albums, instead you get the same swipe-able menu the app drawer is offering. There you can find all of your online and offline albums.

The gallery can connect to online albums (PlayMemories, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr) and also to other devices on the local network. Maps and Globe albums are also available, which use the geotagging info to sort photos by the location at which they were taken, and faces, which groups photos by the faces of the people in them.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Album

Images can be cropped or rotated directly in the gallery. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also enabled.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Viewing an image

There's a slide show using the SensMe brand and much like the music player feature, this one scans files and groups similar photos together.

Walkman and FM Radio

The Walkman music player is part of the equipment of all recent Xperia smartphones. It features Music Unlimited integration and is not above trying to sell you songs, but you can hide the Music Unlimited stuff.

The Walkman interface is based on a hidden swipe-able menu that sort your music collection by Artist, Albums, Playlists, all songs and even the songs your friends are listening to (but you need to connect the player with your Facebook account). You can pop up the menu the same way you'd do it in the app drawer or the gallery - just swipe from the left edge of the screen.

The Music Unlimited stuff includes ways to discover new music - Charts, New releases and Channels. Those can be hidden individually (same goes for the artist/album/playlist tiles) or you can disable the service altogether.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Walkman

The Infinite button is available in the Now Playing screen (just tap the album art) - it will help you find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google. Gracenote is used here too and it can automatically download information about your tracks and album art.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Downloading track info

The Walkman player offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ option is here, which determines the best audio quality settings depending on the song you're listening to. We liked how it changed the music and carefully accentuated various details. Dynamic normalizer evens out the differences in volume between tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.

The Sound enhancements contain yet more settings. There's an equalizer with presets and manual settings (including tweaking Clear Bass). Then there's Surround sound mode, which imitates the Studio, Club or Concert Hall experience. The Clear stereo mode enhances the perceivable stereo channel separation. Dynamic normalizer minimizes the difference in volume between songs (great if you're playing a shuffled mix).

Speaker settings include Clear Phase, which adjusts the quality, while xLOUD boosts up the internal speaker.

There's also an FM Radio. The app features multiple visualizations and integrates with TrackID to recognize the currently playing song. You can even directly send an "I'm listening to..." post to Facebook.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

FM Radio

Audio output is nicely clean but quiet

Going waterproof hasn't really affected the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua audio output and its performance is mostly identical to that of its regular M2 sibling. The smartphone had spot-on frequency response and no distortion in both active external amplifier and headphones attached test scenarios. The noise level and dynamic range were excellent, too.

The only degradation that plugging in a pair of headphones caused was an average bump in stereo crosstalk, but it remained better than on the vanilla Xperia M2. The other problem that might turn a few audiophiles with extra expensive headphones are the less than stellar volume levels in both test cases.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua +0.02, -0.08 -86.5 87.5 0.0077 0.015 -87.9
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua (headphones attached) +0.10, -0.04 -86.4 87.4 0.026 0.060 -57.4
Sony Xperia M2 +0.02, -0.08 -86.6 87.6 0.0076 0.014 -88.1
Sony Xperia M2 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.05 -86.5 87.5 0.023 0.056 -49.5
LG G2 mini +0.12, -0.03 -93.5 93.3 0.0023 0.015 -92.7
LG G2 mini (headphones attached) +0.09, -0.01 -93.1 92.9 0.012 0.042 -61.7
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini +0.06, -0.05 -93.5 92.7 0.0090 0.056 -86.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.04 -93.2 91.8 0.029 0.089 -53.3
Sony Xperia L +0.11, -0.10 -87.0 87.1 0.0085 0.047 -88.0
Sony Xperia L (headphones attached) +0.58, -0.12 -86.7 86.8 0.010 0.169 -58.5

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua frequency response

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Movies

The video playing app is dubbed Movies and it too has a great custom UI. It's connected to Gracenote, which helps you find additional information about the movies and TVs you have on the phone. It will even download posters for them and for movies, it will download metadata like genre, synopsis, director and cast.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work very well for TV shows - it doesn't recognize the S01E02 format and won't pull info about individual episodes. It gets worse, Gracenote seems to be lacking info on TV shows in general, we couldn't find even popular shows like The Big Bang Theory.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Video player

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua was able to play most of the video files we threw at it but had some issues with MOV files. Videos with AC3 and AAC audio files didn't play as well. Still you can always download a more capable (codec-wise) third-party app from the Google Play store.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Watching a video

The video player supports subtitles, and you can customize their looks. Unfortunately, you cannot manually pick the subtitle file, it has to reside in the video folder to load up.

8MP snapper is average

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua's camera uses one of Sony's standard-issue 8MP Exmor RS sensor. It shoots with a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels (8MP) in manual mode, or 3104 x 2328 (7.2MP) in Superior Auto. There is also a LED flash to help you with some low-light photos.

The Xperia M2 Aqua also has a hardware shutter key. It's quite tiny and many people would probably find it uncomfortable. The good thing about it is that you can set it up to unlock the phone and start the camera. It can also snap a photo or start capturing video immediately. This might come in handy for those occasions when you want to capture something quickly and especially when you're shooting underwater.

The camera interface consists of two panes and is unified with the camcorder one - you can snap a photo or shoot a video without changing modes most of the times. Depending on the shooting mode you're in, the video shutter key may be replaced by a still/video mode toggle.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Superior Auto • Shooting modes • Manual

In the full resolution Manual mode you also get access to "manual controls" on the viewfinder, which sounds more impressive than it really is. There's an exposure compensation slider and a white balance selector. You can also control the ISO, metering and focus modes, turn on/off image stabilization, but those are buried in the settings menu.

Then, there are the Augmented Reality effects, which stamp one of several virtual worlds over your scene and you can even move around in this world thanks to some intriguing motion tracking effect (note that it needs real-life visual cues in the scene to track your motion). Children will love this mode, but us bitter adults are unimpressed.

Other modes include the regular Picture effect mode, which creates a 3 x 3 grid that shows all the available effects in real time. Sony has also included a mode called Social streaming, which can live-stream the video feed from your camera directly on your Facebook profile. That's certainly not something you see every day.

Timeshift replaces the regular burst mode, it captures 30 shots in just 2 seconds. The intriguing thing is it starts shooting even before you've pressed the shutter button.

With the 20.7MP Sony Xperias we've noticed that Superior Auto mode captures sharper images while in manual, at whichever resolution you can see some blurring at weird spots around the images.

Interestingly, here it's the other way around - Superior Auto mode is not as sharp as Manual mode.

The images captured in 7.2MP in Superior auto mode don't appear very sharp. Colors are over-saturated to a point where they look a little exaggerated. Exposure is good and so is contrast but there's a lot of noise in the image along with the same oversharpening artefacts we saw in the original Xperia M2 photos.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua SA mode

We like the dynamic range of the images, the sensor did a fine job here.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua SA mode

Macro samples come out with good detail even up close. The Superior auto mode was fast to recognize we wanted macro mode. There's a good level of background and subject separation too.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua macro

And here come the manual mode images in full 8MP resolution. The characteristics of the images remain the same but the results came out much sharper.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua manual mode

Exposure looks a little better as well - we'd suggest snapping in manual mode exclusively. Overall we can safely say that the sensor mounted on the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is the exact same unit from the Xperia M2 and the settings applied to it remain the same.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua manual mode

You can get to HDR mode from the Manual settings menu - not ideal and about the slowest way to enable HDR in the industry (Samsung phones have it as a quick toggle) but it's still there and does its job as it should. It exposes both the shadows and highlights better than on the original images and brightens up the scene - good for cloudy weather.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

HDR Off • HDR On

There's Sweep panorama but, unfortunately, panoramas come out in 5MP resolution, lousy stitching and uninspiring quality.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua panoramas

If you want you can do some extra pixel peeping through our comparison tool below.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua in our photo compare tool

Video recording

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua captures 1080p videos at 30 fps at most. There's the usual lower resolution options - 720p and lower - and there's also HDR video.

Videos carry an okay 20Mbps bitrate but the framerate hovers slightly under 30fps at 28-29fps and you can see the occasional stutter. Audio bitrate is low at 105Kbps. It is stereo but the sound isn't impressive - it sounds as though the phone has been drowned a minute ago and there's some residue water covering the microphones.

The quality of the videos is okay but unimpressive. Colors retain their exaggerated pop and the scene isn't very sharp. The exposure remains intact and good and can't frown at the dynamic range either. White balance seems okay as well.

There's HDR video at 1080p but it looks awful. Instead of providing exposed shadows and highlights the video is just one big overexposed scene and nothing more. Check out the sample below.

And finally here's a 1080p@30 fps video sample (36.4MB, 00:15s) straight off the device.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua in our video compare tool

Chrome

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua comes with Google Chrome as the default web browser out of box instead of the generic Android browser. While the minimalist interface hasn't changed since Chrome launched on Android, the browser is being constantly refined by Google, and this has resulted in one of the smoothest and most powerful browsing experiences we've encountered on a mobile.

Of course, one of Chrome's strengths is its ability to seamlessly sync with the desktop version, using nothing but your Google account. This allows you to open an article on your PC and finish reading it on your mobile phone. It also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Google Chrome

Other apps

Sony's Smart Connect app comes pre-installed - it allows you to set your device to do a variety of things, like launch an app or set an alarm, whenever you connect an accessory, e.g. a headset or a charger, or during a time interval (e.g. mute alarms at night). It doesn't work with NFC tags though, which is very disappointing.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Smart Connect

Sony Select does the same as the Sony's What's New app, but comes with much less functions and old UI. We feel Sony should retire it.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Select

The calendar has three different types of view - daily, weekly and monthly. The lower section of the screen is reserved for a list of upcoming events. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua comes with Track ID TV and it will recognize a TV show if you point the device to listen to what you're watching - neat.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Calendar • Track ID TV

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua also features the Office Suite 7, which supports creating, viewing and editing office files (docs, xls, ppt), and it can also read PDFs.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Office Suite

Calculator, Clock app (with stopwatch, world clock and timer), Sketch, Notes and File Manager apps are available by default.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Clock • Calculator • File Manager • Notes

There is the Sony PlayStation app too, which allows you to browse your PlayStation profile, avatar and achievements. It's far from Microsoft default Xbox app on Windows Phone, but it's something. It can also connect to your PS4 and extract various content from there.

The Power Saver - now part of the settings menu - helps you extend your battery life by toggling things like Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth screen brightness, auto sync and background data on and off automatically when the battery charge falls below a certain user-defined threshold. You can also turn off the Wi-Fi if there is no saved Wi-Fi network in range or turn off mobile data when the screen is off, and more.

Sony also provides a Backup & restore app, which can use the internal storage, a microSD card or even an attached USB mass storage device. You can backup the system and downloaded apps and their data along with any media files.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The Power saver app • Backup & Restore app is a great tool to have out of the box

Final words

A waterproofed version of one of their mass-market models is hardly the biggest thing to come out of Sony's labs this season. There's a new super-mini to look forward to and the next flagship generation, plus a couple of wearables just broke cover ahead of the IFA show. Yet, the one thing all these have in common is waterproofing, no less. A fact the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua will be keen to use to its advantage.

Just like Sony themselves will only benefit from an extra option in the lower midrange. There used to be a few affordable water resistant smartphones around but the niche is now wide open - it's been a while since we last heard of the likes of the Motorola Defy and the Samsung Xcover series.

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is otherwise nearly identical to the original. Now that the civilian M2 is getting, or about to get, its KitKat upgrade, the main differences boil down to an IPS LCD and the IP certification. The IPS panel has positively affected the viewing angles, while the KitKat optimizations have helped squeeze a couple of hours of battery time.

The shortcomings are shared as well however - and we don't just mean the questionable image quality. The screen resolution is a bit too low for the 4.8" diagonal. On the other hand, the device feels big for the screen size - it's heavy and feels thick. Granted, it's a waterproof device - and one that doesn't feel extra rugged at that - but if the water resistance isn't a must-have, there're more compact and comfortably-handling options available. You should consider the sealed microUSB port and 3.5mm jack too - it's only a non-issue if the phone spends more time submerged than it does connected.

Sony's Xperia UI offers some proprietary features that you won't find everywhere or at least not executed the same way. For starters Sony has its own set of multimedia apps like Album, Walkman, Movies, PlayStation Mobile and What's New. The Small Apps are a nice touch and allow you to run apps as an overlay while using the phone. The camera suite is pretty advanced with a set of software lenses and the option to add new ones. The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua allows you to easily connect and share media with a bunch of Sony devices like TVs, PlayStation, cameras, etc. We like the provided themes and also the power saver software - it's among the most powerful ones and Sony got it right before anybody else.

Key test findings:

  • Good build, sensible finish but a little too big and heavy perhaps for the screen size;
  • Screen is low on pixel density. Good brightness though and excellent contrast. IPS favors viewing angles but the reflective screen struggles outdoors;
  • Battery life is good;
  • The phone performed without stutters, benchmarks show average performance for the midrange;
  • Loudspeaker is only average in loudness;
  • Walkman app has loads of sound enhancement options;
  • Video player refused to open files with AC3 and AAC audio codecs;
  • We like the audio output quality but a little louder wouldn't have hurt;
  • Camera samples in Manual mode are much sharper than Superior Auto ones; camera is altogether unimpressive, just like the original M2's;
  • Video recording is average with poor sound.

Sony has yet to reveal that all-important piece of the puzzle - the price. With only waterproofing over the original M2 and specs on par with last season's minis, the Xperia M2 Aqua can still be quite competitive - if it's truly affordable.

The way we see it, it shouldn't be far off its siblings - but let's not forget it's Sony doing the math. The original Xperia M2 and its dual-SIM version cost €180 and €220 respectively. The latter trades 4G data speeds for an extra SIM, while the Aqua keeps the LTE radio of the original and adds the IP certification.

Sony Xperia M2
Sony Xperia M2 dual

Sony Xperia M2 • Sony Xperia M2 dual

If water-proofing were a must-have, one had to spend big on a flagship. There were exceptions of course - like the Huawei Ascend G350 and lesser-known brands. But they were just that - exceptions. In fact, the more than year-old Ascend G350 has the same IP68 rating as the Xperia M2 Aqua. The question is though whether a phone of otherwise modest specs needs all that water proofing after all.

Huawei Ascend G350

Huawei Ascend G350

Or is Motorola's approach the smarter thing to do? The Moto G's internals have water-repellent coating, which does a reasonably good job without official IP certification. And we're not just name-dropping here - the Moto G's LTE-enabled version is one of our protagonist's biggest rivals.

The LTE-ready version with a microSD slot costs €190 at the moment - a 720p screen makes this great value for money but the flipside is no FullHD videos. While not officially certified, the Moto G 4G has a reasonable level of water protection thanks to a water-repellent treatment of its internals.

Motorola Moto G 4G

Motorola Moto G 4G

Out of the last season's minis, the LTE-capable KitKat-running LG G2 mini is a pretty close match, powered by the same Snapdragon 400 chipset and rocking a 4.7" qHD screen. It fits a bigger battery in a clearly more compact body. A nice package for the price of around €200 - nothing special in terms of processing power but good design and better camera.

LG G2 mini

LG G2 mini

The Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo is probably an even more limited edition than the Aqua but it's worth a mention here for its 4.8" 720p Super AMOLED display for the price of €208. The downside is it doesn't have LTE and won't be as widely available as the M2 Aqua. There's no water resistance whatsoever either.

Samsung I9300I Galaxy S3 Neo

Samsung I9300I Galaxy S3 Neo

Now, that's it. If water resistance is a must and the price is right, a phone like the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua makes enough sense. That's one too many if's perhaps. The fact is you don't appear to have too many alternatives outside present and former flagships - and some cheap offers by lesser-known brands. An HD screen, more processing power and better imaging would probably make a bigger difference to some. But the Xperia M2 Aqua is for those who don't want to worry about the difference between a phone in their pocket and a phone at the bottom of the pool.

Retail package

Our pre-market unit of the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua came unpackaged but we did get some accessories with it - a microUSB 2.0 cable and an A/C adapter. A retail copy will probably have headphones as well but it's not to be taken for granted these days.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Retail contents

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 360-degree spin

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is identical to its predecessor in terms of size and looks. Just a fraction of a millimeter taller and wider, at the same 8.6mm of thickness. A single gram was added to the weight - the IP certification didn't bring about any extra bulk but called for a few changes on the body. For starters, the microUSB port and 3.5mm headphone jack have been sealed with water-tight lids.

Another change, which doesn't appear to have anything to do with the Xperia M2 Aqua being water-proof, is the back. Instead of the reflective glossy plastic of the Xperia M2's rear, Sony has opted for a matte, frosted-glass-like finish. The plastic feels much better to the touch, takes fewer smudges, and feels less scratch-prone.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Rear panel comparison

Design and handling

The design of the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is untouched. The Omnibalance aesthetic has carried the company through several generations - still perfectly relevant in a midrange context. Flat front and rear with a metal frame to hold the pieces together. The sides have matte finish for proper grip. The corners are subtly rounded at the very point, the sole exception in an otherwise very sharp, rectangular outline.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua isn't the most compact of devices, a little bigger than even some 5" phones, but still usable single-handedly. The thickness isn't overwhelming but the weight is something you'll notice.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Handling the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Handling the Xperia M2 Aqua is comfortable. The squared-off corners of the device are a little sharp on the palm but Sony's choice of slightly rounded edges with rubberized bits helps in this regard.

Controls

The Sony Xperia M2 has pretty much the same controls as most of the Xperia smartphones released over the past year or so and the same layout as the Xperia M2. Above the screen we find the VGA camera, a couple of sensors, the earpiece and a small status LED.

Gone is the LED strip at the bottom that matched the dominant color on the current screen. There's just the tiny LED next to the earpiece. It won't be missed much anyway.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The front of the phone

The right side has a half-press physical shutter button, a volume rocker and an aluminum power button, that's become a Sony staple.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The right side of the phone

The microSIM and microSD card slots are located above the power button, under plastic covers.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Slots on the right side

The microUSB port is no longer out in the open and supports the water resistance claims with a flap of its own.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The left side

The 3.5mm audio jack is on top as usual but this time with a water-tight lid as well. We would've preferred a water-proof jack like on most IP-certified phones - but the Aqua's IP68 rating obviously calls for more heavy-duty insulation. That said, the 8 in that code stands for submersion beyond 1m. Although there's no limit specified, Sony are probably playing it safe by committing to protection only at up to 1.5m depth.

The bottom of the Xperia M2 Aqua seems empty, but in fact the primary microphone and the loudspeaker are hiding behind a fine grille. The lanyard eyelet is also around.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Top and bottom

The matte rear features the 8MP camera lens with a single LED flash, the NFC connection point and the secondary noise-reducing microphone.

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

The back