Running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the Sony Xperia M isn’t bang up to date with the latest version of Android (4.3) but it’s generally the same experience you can expect too get on most Jelly Bean-running Xperia handsets. You can still download apps from the Google Play store, create widgets, make app folders and access Google Now. Sony’s presence is developing into one of the better Android interface skins and it’s still very easy to use to get around once you spend a bit of time with it.
Something we do have an issue with is the keyboard in portrait mode. It’s quite cramped compared to typing on the Xperia Z or the Xperia Z1 and it can take some getting used to write messages and simply search for something quickly in Google.
There are plenty of apps on board including Sony’s native offerings. Walkman, Track ID (Sony’s take on Shazam) Sony Connect, Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited are among the ones that make the cut. Xperia Link is just one of the many connectivity options you can use to send data and video between other the Xperia M and accessories like laptops and TVs. There’s also NFC and DLNA support and Sony's Throw app to send content to other Sony devices.
On the Google app front there’s the usual suspects including Gmail, the Chrome browser and Google Plus. Facebook is already installed and with OfficeSuite already on board, there’s more than enough to keep you going before you have to venture into the Google Play Store for more.
The Xperia M has a 1GHz Qualcomm S4 Plus dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM and a Adreno 305 GPU. It’s more than suitable to keep things running smoothly.
Browsing is quick, not lightning fast, but there's no cause for serious complaint. There’s little sign of lag swiping through homescreens or launching applications and it’s more than capable of streaming video.
It also handles more demanding gaming like Dead Trigger, however the small 4GB of internal memory becomes an issue if you want to download more than one of the bigger-sized games. In reality, after you take into consideration the room Sony's software takes up you only have 2GB to play. Having the expandable storage option is necessary if you want to download and play Real Racing 3.
In the benchmark scores the Xperia M fares reasonably well. The 257 score in the Peacekeeper browser benchmark tests suggests it's only just above the ropey Xbox 360 and PS3 browsers, however we found browsing to be generally fine. In the 3D Mark Ice Storm benchmark test the M scores a 4152 beating the similarly-specced LG L7 II (2290). In Geekbench 3, the M manages a 625 which is once again above the LG L7 II (421).