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Sony Xperia M4 Aqua review



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Our Score:



  • Attractive build
  • Waterproof
  • Competent camera


  • Only 8GB storage
  • Inconsistent battery life
  • Slippery rear

Key Features

  • Fully waterproof
  • 5-inch HD screen
  • octa-core chip
  • 4G/LTE support
  • 13MP camera
  • Omnibalance design
  • NFC
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Review Price: £199.99

What is the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua?

Sony’s mobile division is often tough to praise, but it does get two things right: consistent design across all price points, and waterproofing.

That’s the ethos that drives the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, an attractive mid-range Android smartphone that – as the name suggests – can be dunked in water without issue.

It’s a cross-sequel to both the Xperia M2 Aqua and the Xperia M3, which gels with Sony’s third mobile maxim: frequent and confusing iterative updates.

Aside from the waterproofing, the M4 Aqua has respectable innards. It features a 5-inch HD display, an octa-core processor, a 13-megapixel camera, and 4G support.

You can buy the M4 Aqua for £229 on Pay As You Go. It’s also available on contracts from various carriers starting at £15.50 per month. This gets you a 24-month plan with no upfront fee, offering 150 minutes, 5,000 texts, and a miserly 250MB of data.

Sony boasts that the M4 Aqua represents a ‘renewed mid-range focus’ and has ‘no compromises’. But how does that claim hold up under scrutiny?

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua: Design

The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua will look familiar to anyone who’s ever seen a recent Sony smartphone. It features the ‘Omnibalance’ design aesthetic that Sony has built its Xperia range is built around.

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Related: Best Android Smartphones 2015

That seriously counts in the M4 Aqua’s favour, because it looks very similar to the flagship Sony Xperia Z3+. It’s glossy, rounded, and slim at 7.3mm. That makes it slimmer than the EE Harrier and the Honor 6. However, the mid-range Samsung Galaxy A5 is even more dieted-down at 6.7mm. The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua is also lightweight at a feathery 136g, which is lighter than both the Moto G (2015) and the Honor 6. It’s still weightier than the 123g Galaxy A5, mind, but by no means cumbersome.

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The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua feels sturdy, although being coated in glass on the front and back may be a cause for concern for buttery-fingered users. It also means your handset will slide across every surface you set it down on. Fortunately, the corners are nylonised, which purportedly helps protect it from falls. We found this not to be true on our Sony Xperia Z3 however, which now has a smashed corner and a cracked back, after a fall from a paltry height of two feet. So much for nylonised corners, eh? On the plus side, when we press our thumbs hard against the ends of the M4 Aqua, it barely flexes, which is a good sign of robustness.

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Related: Sony Xperia Z6 release date

The M4 Aqua is, of course, built for submersion – a nice feature for a mid-range handset. It’s IP68 waterproof certified, which means it’ll last for 30 minutes underwater at a depth of one metre. We didn’t test that claim to its limits, but we dunked the handset several times without issue. Don’t forget that thanks to the waterproofing, the microSD card and SIM trays have to be hidden behind flaps – we don’t access these frequently enough for that to be an issue though. Also, unlike the Xperia Z3, the Micro USB port remains uncovered. That’s a big improvement on last year’s Sony flagship.

The volume rocker and power button are less pronounced than on the Xperia Z3. They’re slightly more difficult to press, but the phone feels better in the hand as a result. Sony also decided not to include a magnetic charging pad on the side. It won’t be missed by most users.

The 5-inch screen is slightly smaller than the Xperia Z3+’s display by 0.2-inches. Some of the ports have been moved around too, but it’s otherwise identical. One key departure is that the phone’s edging is polycarbonate on the M4 Aqua, unlike the metal Xperia Z3+. It’s easy enough to grip though, and looks just fine. The bezels are thin, but big enough to hold on to comfortably when using the phone in landscape.

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We reviewed the black version of the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua, but it’s also available in white and pink.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua: Screen

The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua has a 5-inch display, which is about the norm for a smartphone in 2015. Users with exceptionally small hands might find the M4 Aqua awkward to navigate, but we were able to reach the top of the screen without any difficulty.

We thought it was a shame that the M4 Aqua’s display is only 720p, because cheaper rivals come with a 1080p display. There’s really no excuse for skipping Full HD at this price. It’s especially annoying because this is a 4G phone, and would be able to handle streaming native 1080p content with ease.

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Fortunately, the screen does look sharp and clear, despite the slightly lacklustre resolution. The M4 Aqua has good viewing angles, displays colours vibrantly and accurately, and the screen is just about bright enough to use outdoors on a sunny day.


August 28, 2015, 7:23 am

In your review of the 2015 Moto G, rated IPx7, you make the same 1m/30mins claim for water resistance as here for the Sony, rated IP68. The second digit indicates water resistance. Is there no difference between 7 and 8?



August 29, 2015, 10:46 pm

You reference how slim or otherwise with this and other devices these days but I wish you would include all physical dimensions and sim card size in 'Key Features' at the start of reviews.

I keep having to go to other sites to discover.

Jagadeeshbabu AV

October 8, 2015, 12:47 am







Matty Maidment

November 12, 2015, 9:55 am


Jagadeeshbabu AV

November 12, 2015, 2:40 pm

still my mobile is in service center two months over. I dont get correct responce from customer care guys

Ben Rafter

December 7, 2015, 7:58 pm

Is it worth it over the one plus x?


January 6, 2016, 10:47 pm

Am i the only one, with flashlight not working?

Ryan John Donnelly

January 21, 2016, 6:43 pm

My phone ghastly just turned off, no power even when charging and it feels really hot. Would you recommend that I sent it back as its only 15 days old. Thanks.

Sophie Moreton

March 18, 2016, 1:31 pm

Would never recommend this phone. Back camera will not work, it has been deleting my apps. Done software updates, phone cleaning, virus removing and still will not work. Now I am having to do a Software Repair which could remove my files. Really not happy with my Sony. Such a shame as I was a big fan before. Also I know Apple sorted my sisters broken phone after 18 months of her having the phone and gave her a new one as the problem was not her fault. Now I finally understand why people buy Apple phones and pay more!!


April 5, 2016, 10:22 am

ahaha get warranty. my 1st sony has the same issue. sold it right away after waranty.

Imre Csoka

April 30, 2016, 11:14 pm

Looks like i got a good batch phone, have no issues with it whatsoever. No Sim card issues, performance turn off , none at all. Its a great phone.


May 1, 2016, 8:31 am

i having the same problem,mine keeps get hot then wont work,only had it 3 weeks ,


May 1, 2016, 8:34 am

same as mine am taking it back agin today want money back.

Michael Smith

June 26, 2016, 5:29 pm

I've had this phone since August 2015 and I'm on my second replacement. First one wouldn't recognise the SIM card, the second one the recharge circuit fried, and I'm just starting to have the same problem with the phone not recognising the SIM. Will be getting rid of it and will NOT be recommending it to anyone. I agree it's a good phone WHEN IT WORKS, but I've had to restart it 3 times in the last couple of hours today (26 June 2016)

Joe Cunningham

July 6, 2016, 10:33 am

DO NOT GET. I've had nothing but trouble. It was already running slow and after a month of owning the thing it had a full system melt down and had to be sent off to repair. Got it back two days ago and I'm already having problems. Apps will just just crash repeatedly on opening for no given reason. Not only that, battery life is dreadful. It actually runs out quicker than it charges. I looked and on 40 % while charging it said it would take 6 hours to fully charge. As I was using it as it charged the charge in the battery was decreasing.

Dreadful phone. Avoid at all cost


August 18, 2016, 11:15 pm

Do not get this phone at all it is rubbish. When I first got it the phone worked for like a month. Then I could only have conversations and hear people if I put it on speaker phone. I was going on holidays so I was going to wait until I came back to have them look at it. While on holidays my phone got wet with a big splash and then it shut off completely and has been in rice for 2.5 days close to 3. This phone is not waterproof and I was told when I called SONY that it is only waterproof if the water is natural spring water. If the water is salt water or has chlorine in it then it is not waterproof for that kind of water. Now I will have to pay 100 for another phone thru the insurance and I get a like new phone but its more than likely refurbished phone. I will never buy or suggest a SONY product again.


August 18, 2016, 11:16 pm

yup the phone is JUNK


August 18, 2016, 11:19 pm

no any phone that is SONY is junk they never fixed all the glitches they just put in on the market and people bought it. Its not waterproof, sometimes the volume or mic goes there is nothing but problems and problems. I know every phone has an issue but most times they fix it well SONY fixes it and then another problem comes.


August 18, 2016, 11:19 pm

yes send it back and RUN from the store.


August 18, 2016, 11:20 pm

no they do not really do customer care they just answer the phones over there so they can say they have 24 hour customer service.

D Mitchell

August 30, 2016, 10:51 pm

If the waterproof claim were true this would have been a good phone for a competitively-priced contract. Mine was killed instantly by a ducking. Sony have now redefined "waterproof" as "30 minutes on stand-by in still distilled water in a lab", which is hardly compatible with their old marketing pictures of happy children swimming underwater and the phone capturing it on video.
Without the waterproof credentials, it falls back to being just a bog standard budget smartphone.

Mark David Mullen

October 28, 2016, 2:27 pm

This is the worst phone I have ever owned and the only time I've seriously considering swapping it for another despite being lock into a long contract.

The 8 GB of storage isn't far off ful out of the box. This didn't bother me at first because I thought I'd just put everything on a SD Card. But you can't download aps direct to the SD card so very quickly I've ended up with a phone that I'm using as a skeleton phone with barely any apps on it and still only 15% storage left.

I've wiped the phone which helped briefly but it is just a totally flawed concept to release a phone with 8GB storage these days and then limit the users options for moving things over to the SD card.

Added to that the camera is terrible. You press the button and it takes the photo about three seconds later. By which time everything has moved and I have tried altering all the settings and the photo's are constantly blurred as it can't handle the slightest movement.

I will never buy a Sony phone again after this. A total let down.


November 2, 2016, 8:20 am

Mark David Mullen is spot on about the lack of memory. This can only function as a skeleton phone... at best. There is a microphone problem in addition (check the web). Phone can only be used as a speakerphone. Reloading software does nothing even though Sony recommends that as the solution. Rubbish. Would like to burn the contract. Never Sony again

Vishal Jaiswal

November 14, 2016, 8:56 am

I though I am the one having trouble with mine. Microphone and speakerphone trouble is still the issue after four time warranty repairs since purchased. I have fed up with their excuses and still asking for another repair for speakerphone issue. They don't want to refund or replace the phone or to give assurance to fix the issue. Several times I have asked to explain the issue to service centre but they do not want listen and send back saying the phone have no issue. It seems to have manufacturing defects in this M4 Aqua model but they don't want to admit it or accept it. I am lodging complaint in Fair trading department now, to resolve this issue.
But the verdict is DO NOT BUY SONY PHONES EVER........NEVER.


November 17, 2016, 4:55 pm

I've had the same problem. Sent in to be fixed THREE times and every time it came back the same way !!!
It's like they looked at it, laughed and sent it back the EXACT same.


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