Behind the Xperia M's removable cover lies a 1750mAh capacity battery more than capable of giving you two days plus play time with careful use. Sony also includes its Stamina and Low Battery features to disable battery-draining features and helps keep the impressive battery life going even further.
In more extreme testing conditions running the downloaded film Ice Age on maximum brightness with sound on, the Xperia M manages 9-9.5 hours before running completely out of life. That's also without dipping into the power management modes. The Xperia M is also a quick charger picking up around 15 per cent battery from a 30-minute charge, starting from critical battery level (below 10 per cent).
Like the Xperia L, the Xperia M suffers from some distortion on both ends of the call and things can struggle to come out exceptionally clear. There are no signal dropping issues and the inclusion of Sony's HD Voice no doubt helps eliminate background noise. Inside a packed pub we still needed to move away from the crowd to take the call. Things do improve when you are using the speakerphone, but clarity far from impresses.
While call quality is not up to scratch, the rear speaker actually does a decent job particularly when watching films. The Xperia Z and Z1 suffer from bad speaker placement so it's nice to see Sony get it right on the Xperia M. Situated on the lower part of the removable back, there's very little chance of cupping the reasonably sized speaker.
Dialogue in video comes out loud and clear however it's more of a strain for music. It lacks the punchy bass of HTC's BoomSound speakers but then that's a problem for most smartphones. For a sub-£200 phone, it's one of the better speaker performers we've heard.
For £180 SIM-free, there is a lot to like about the 4-inch Sony Xperia M. It retains some of the design elements that make the top end Xperia phones great to look at and you can forget you are actually holding a budget Android phone. It's got really good battery life and the dual-core CPU is good match for the features on board. It's only until you take a look at the screen and take a picture that you know what you are dealing with.
For the around the same money the Android-running LG L7 2 (£169) has a bigger 4.3-inch screen with better viewing angles, an 8-megapixel main camera, but significantly worse performance. If you are willing to consider a Windows Phone 8 handset, the 4-inch Nokia Lumia 520 is cheaper at £115. The screen is about the same in terms of quality, and it's definitely a stylish alternative to most Android phones below £200.
If you are looking for a cheap Android phone that can play high end mobile games, offer good battery life and has a decent enough screen for watching films the Xperia M is a good shout.
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The Sony Xperia M at £180, is an Android phone with good looks and a decent all-round performance to make up for the shortcomings in the screen and camera department.