Sometimes, you really like the styling or design of flagship caliber devices, but you're not as interested in all of those really high-end features. Maybe, you're on a tighter budget. Maybe, you want something that looks pretty good and just gets the job done. Maybe, you're in the market for something like the Sony Xperia M2 Android smartphone. Let's see if it's up to snuff.
The Mid-Range Specs and Features
As its name implies, the Sony Xperia M2 is the successor to last year's Xperia M. Almost everything has been upgraded across the board, including an update to the design language to fall in line with current flagships like the Xperia Z2. The lines are a little bit sleeker and the phone itself is a little bit bigger. However, you certainly can't expect to get anywhere near flagship-level specs.
The 4.8-inch display is only 960 x 540 pixels (qHD), but you do get a quad-core 1.2GHz processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 400) and LTE support. There's still just the single gig of RAM to go along with the same Adreno 305 graphics of the original Xperia M. The camera has been upgraded too, including 1080p video support, but it's still just an 8MP shooter with a VGA selfie cam in the front. Rounding out the spec sheet are the 8GB internal memory, microSD expansion up to 32GB, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and a larger 2300mAh battery. In terms of mid-range specs, the Moto G has the Sony Xperia M2 beat on several fronts, most notably the display, though the Sony gets a higher resolution camera.
The retail packaging for the Sony Xperia M2 is as you'd expect with some basic instructions, USB cable and wall adapter. Watch my unboxing video for a closer look.
Mirroring the Flagship
You'll notice that the signature power button is clearly visible on the right side of the phone, just as you'd find on the more expensive offerings. The volume rocker below that is functional, but I found it to be a little tiddly, especially since the dedicated camera button is right below that. If I wasn't careful, I'd mistake the camera shutter button for volume down. Some sort of more obvious differentiation needs to be made.
The Sony Xperia M2 comes in a sealed body without the waterproof certifications of its pricier counterparts. One point that did bug me was the placement of the lone speaker on the bottom of the phone. The problem is that one of my fingers would inevitably block it, muffling the sound. When I was extra careful about not blocking the speaker, it was loud and clear though hardly spectacular.
Sony Xperia M2 Camera and Video Quality
The Xperia M from last year had a middling 5MP camera. The newer Sony Xperia M2 boasts an 8MP shooter. That's still a far cry from the 20MP camera on the Z2. What you do get, though, is a number of the fun camera modes like Timeshift Burst and AR Effect. Sadly, these do little in terms of actually producing great photos. Quality under ideal lighting conditions is passable for Facebook updates, but things get not so pretty when conditions aren't so perfect. The noise and lack of clarity are troublesome.
And you can say the same thing about the video. You can shoot at full HD 1080p. You just shouldn't expect to get footage that will wow you.
AnTuTu and 3DMark Benchmark Scores
We have to remember that the Sony Xperia M2 isn't meant to compete against a Samsung Galaxy S5 or an HTC One M8. It's not going to have industry-leading specs and, as a result, it's not going to have industry-leading performance either.
In the case of the AnTuTu benchmark, the M2 achieved a score of 17,551. That would put in the same range as the two-year-old Samsung Galaxy S3. By comparison, the Z2 scored over 32,000 in AnTuTu. A similar difference was observed with the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark in 3DMark. The Z2 was maxed out the benchmark, unable to compute a score, while the M2 struggled to get over 2,800. It was able to achieve a score of 5789 on the base-level Ice Storm benchmark.
Benchmarks are benchmarks, but how did the Sony Xperia M2 fare in the real world? For the most part, it was able to hold up to most of my daily tasks, like checking email, updating social media and surfing the web. I did find that full screen YouTube streaming could come with a few hanging frames (with the audio continuing on as normal) and certain games, like Candy Crush Soda, resulted in some performance hiccups too. The phone never crashed, but these little glitches do detract from the overall experience.
MEGATechie Smartphone Value or MEGATechie Middling Blunder?
Naturally, it would be unrealistic to go into the Sony Xperia M2 expecting it to keep pace with much more expensive smartphones. For someone who wants a decently stylish smartphone that'll handle the majority of day-to-day activities (complete with "Stamina" mode for extended battery life), the M2 isn't that bad of an option. The lower resolution is definitely noticeable, however, and the camera feels lacking. I'd be worried about how performance holds up after loading up more apps over an extended period of time too.
The Sony Xperia M2 sounds like a pretty good bargain at around $250 outright via a number of online retailers, but then you remember that you may be able to pick up last year's Z1 for about the same or a new Moto G for even less. If you're considering the unlocked route, there may be better options available at this price point. If you are willing to sign a qualifying two-year contract with Fido or Rogers in Canada, you can get the M2 for $0. That's not nearly as shabby.