The first word that springs to mind when you pick up a Sony Xperia M is ‘cute’.
At just 120 grams and in a compact body, the Xperia M fits comfortably in the hand. The soft touch back provides a nice level of grip whilst some premium Omni-Balance design language has trickled down from Sony’s top-of-the-line smartphones to the brushed inlaid borders of the phone.
The hardware controls including the aluminium power/lock key and hardware shutter button have a nice feel to them too and on the whole this mid-ranger looks a little more premium than many rival devices out there.
A look on the front shows a fairly thick bezel that skirts the edge of a 4-inch WVGA LCD panel. The colours the screen outputs are incredibly vivid head on, although viewing angles; contrast and white balance are surprisingly weak, which is a shame.
The bezel itself has room to accommodate the earpiece and a front-facing VGA camera at the top, as well a multi-coloured LED notifications light at the base which can be used for features like the alarm, incoming calls, text messages, social networks and more.
The user interface running on the M is Sony’s take on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. It’s clean and clear and has a number of handy in-built modifications over the standard Android experience like its advanced homescreen customisation menu and the inclusion of small apps which run on top of your home screens.
The 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM perform well for a mid-range handset like this. Stutter navigating the user-interface can happen from time to time and graphics heavy games like Asphalt 8 simply won’t run, but other titles like Riptide GP2 which do, perform brilliantly.
It’s easy to enjoy media on the Xperia M with Sony’s own pre-installed Music and Video unlimited services for streaming content on a subscription basis, or by enjoying you own files through the WALKMAN and Movies applications.
With less than 2GB of user accessible storage available out the box you’ll almost certainly need to throw in a microSD card, or any size up to 32GB to really enjoy using the M.
As well as letting you slot in an SD card, the back also plays host to the M’s 5-megapixel camera, despite taking so-so shots, has some more premium features like HDR mode and 720 HD video recording.
The Sony Xperia M is an intriguing mix of premium and budget; whilst it might not have the best camera or storage options available, its strengths are its design and the user experience on offer, which punches above what you’d expect from a device in the same class as this.