Before the Moto G blew every other budget phone out of the water, the £200 Xperia M was a stylish handset with the kind of decent all-round performance that make great affordable Android phones.
The Sony Xperia M2 is the sequel to the Xperia M and makes notable improvements across the board. Is it enough to topple the current budget phone champ the Moto G? We compare the specs to find out.
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Sony Xperia M2 vs Motorola Moto G: DesignSony Xperia M2: 8.6mm thick, matte plastic body
Motorola Moto G: 11.6mm thick, matte and gloss plastic body
What we really liked about the Xperia M was that it didn’t look like a budget phone. Sony adopted the same 'OmniBalance' design used in the Xperia Z1 and now the Z2 minus the aluminium frame. Available in black, white and purple, the M2 weighs 148g and measures in at 8.6mm thick, making it heavier but thinner than the M.
The M2 is also slightly heavier than the Moto G (143g) although the Motorola phone doesn't have such a slender profile measuring in at 11.6mm thick. The Moto G's plain matte and gloss black finish gives it an inoffensive ordinariness but crucially, it's easy to use in one hand. If you missed the days of removeable covers, there's 19 different backs to mix things up.
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Sony Xperia M2 vs Motorola Moto G: ScreenSony Xperia M2: 4.8-inch qHD 540 x 960 display (229 ppi)
Motorola Moto G: 4.5-inch 720pHD display (326ppi)
While the M2 jumps up from a 4-inch to a larger 4.8-inch qHD display, the 540 x 960 screen resolution leaves a lot to be a desired. The 854 x 480 TFT display on the M struggled for sharpness and delivered poor viewing angles and this is where the Moto G trumps the Sony smartphone thanks to its 720p HD display.
The 4.5-inch display on the Moto G’s might not deliver the same level of sharpness as an iPhone 5S or the HTC One, but it does produce well-saturated, vivid colours and strong contrast levels to make it the best screen we’ve seen at this price. It's possible the M2 could match it for colours and contrast, but its 229 pixels per inch (ppi) vs. 326ppi means it won't look anything like as sharp as the Moto G and it will be obvious.
Sony Xperia M2 vs Motorola Moto G: CameraSony Xperia M2: 8-megapixel main camera
Motorola Moto G: 5-megapixel main camera
The pairing of a 5-megapixel main camera and a VGA-quality front-facing camera on the M delivered largely average results, although the onboard HDR mode did a good job of pushing up the image quality. Sony has moved to an 8-megapixel camera with its Exmor RS for mobile image sensor to help shoot better low-light photography. There's also a front-facing camera but Sony has yet to reveal details of the megapixel count or features.
HDR mode can now be used for video and still images while a new auto scene recognition mode has been added giving you 36 scene types to help make taking good pictures quicker and easier. It also adds some of the more fun camera modes from the Z1 like AR effects and Social Live broadcasting. For video, you can now shoot in full HD 1080p up from 720p HD on the Xperia M.
The Moto G feels more economical in this department with a 5-megapixel sensor and f/2.2 4 lens. For a £130 phone, image quality is decent but doesn’t really excel. The same can be similarly said about the 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and the 720p HD video recording.
On paper, this in one area where the M2 looks set to come out on top, though we'll have to wait for our full test to decide for sure.
Sony Xperia M2 vs Motorola Moto G – Software, CPU, RAM and Battery LifeSony Xperia M2 - Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, 1.2 GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 2,300mAh battery
Motorola Moto G - 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 2,070mAh battery
The Xperia M2 runs on a lightly skinned version of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (there's no Android 4.4 KitKat) but you do get the familiar Sony apps pre-loaded like Walkman, Track ID, Sony Connect, Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited.
Moving from a 1GHz Qualcomm S4 Plus dual-core CPU to a 1.2 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon processor, there’s still just 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 305 GPU like the Xperia M. In terms of battery life, the M2 moves up to a 2,300 mAh capacity, which is a significant upgrade from the 1,750mAh one in the M. With Battery Stamina mode also on board, it should help keep the mid-range smartphone going for longer.
The Moto G of course is no slouch. After recent updates it now runs an almost vanilla version of Android 4.4 KitKat that's very clean, easy to use and free of bloat. Motorola also includes its Motorola Assist and Motorola Migrate applications.
A 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU with 1GB of RAM takes care of performance and while it’s not as powerful as top-tier processors it comfortably outdoes the HTC One Mini, Galaxy S4 Mini and the Xperia M. In the battery department there’s a 2,070mAh battery and without any power-saving modes is going to need to be charged every day.
On performance alone these two sound like a good match, but we fancy the Xperia M2 could have an edge on battery life. Not only is the battery larger, its lower resolution screen will use less power.
Sony Xperia M2 vs Motorola Moto G – ConnectivitySony Xperia M2 - 3G and 4G LTE
Motorola Moto G - 3G
The big news is that the M2 now boasts 4G connectivity, something that the Moto G currently does not support. It might not be a major factor for some as 4G contracts are still on the expensive side, but if you want a future-proofed handset, the M2 is primed to deliver faster data connections and download speeds. Additionally, the M2 also comes with 50GB of free storage via Dropbox rival Box, screen mirroring via Miracast and has MicroSD card support, something the Moto G crucially lacks.
It's clear that the Moto G as set the bar for what can be achieved with a sub-£200 smartphone and with the Xperia M2, Sony has upped its game with a handset that almost matches the Motorola phone on all fronts. Screen quality aside, the Sony phone has the better camera, the more stylish look and perhaps most importantly 4G support to make it a genuine rival for the Moto G. If Sony prices the M2 similar to the Xperia M, this could be a mid-range Android phone great in the making.
As for the Moto G, given it's currently on sale for around £100 it is a fair bit cheaper than the Xperia M2 will be -- it's a testament to how good it is that you can compare them at all. Whether you choose to buy a Moto G now or wait for the M2 largely comes down to priorities. If you mainly care about the screen then the Moto G is the best bet, but the M2 shades things in most other categories.
Next, read our HTC One 2 news and rumour round-up.