Using Sony’s expertise in the waterproof mobile industry looks like a good step because a quality phone that doesn’t give up the ghost when you drop it in the toilet or bath is becoming increasingly important.The result is the M2 Aqua, which combines the sleek look of the M2 with the ruggedness of the ZR.
The first impressions of the M2 Aqua are that it is a very good-looking phone. It has Sony’s customary sharp, squared-off edges and the ports for the Micro SD card, headphones and charger are hidden by the waterproofing flaps, giving it a very smooth look. It does look a bit ugly and scrappy when those flaps are out but it’s a fairly minor issue. While on the subject of waterproofing, it passed the splash test with flying colours, retaining full usability even when soaking wet.
Diving into the phone reveals a vibrant screen with an appealing app layout. The trio of buttons along the bottom of the screen to take you home, back one page or to reveal all the apps you have running are well spaced, responsive and non-intrusive. The Snapdragon quad-core processor is capable of dealing with several apps running at the same time with no noticeable slowdown.
The model we tested had 4GB available when the pre-loaded apps were taken into consideration, which is very reasonable considering the low price point. There is the option for the storage capability to be whacked up to 32GB with a micro SD card should you wish and that’s something we would recommend because this is a phone on which you’re going to want to store a lot of files.
One of the really cool features of this phone is the range of options for your inner photographer. The eight-megapixel camera provides a sharp image, backed up by a host of technology. The Superior Auto function is capable of recognizing 36 different scenes and alters the settings accordingly. It also is able to deal with the photographer’s nightmare – backlighting. When shooting into the light, the M2 Aqua brightens up the target so your face isn’t shrouded in darkness. Although not perfect, it did work to an extent.
However, the fun really starts when you get to the apps. Our favourite has to be the AR photos. Holding your phone toward a flat surface provides the platform for a range of fun characters to appear, from dinosaurs to pixies. The visuals are stunning and can add a really entertaining dimension to your photos. It’s a shame that the front-facing camera is only 1.1-megapixels, leading to some slightly grainy selfies, but overall it’s not actually that terrible.
Of the pre-loaded apps, the one we like the most was Sony Select, an app that picked out a range of games and apps you might be interested in. The Play store can be a little boggling at times, so this snapshot of the options available was a welcome relief. We also liked the News & Weather app, which summarized the top stories and the next week’s weather efficiently and simply.
The 4.8-inch screen is a comfortable size to hold and operate single handedly and you barely notice it only has 230 PPI. The M2 Aqua can be summed up as a solid all-rounder. It looks nice but has that crucial resilience. It performs at a high level without really wowing and although we love the range of camera features skimping on the front-facing camera could hurt sales.
It has a healthy mix of stock Android apps and Sony-specific apps, which means you shouldn’t have to download much more beyond your favourite games. It’s not perfect but there are definitely enough positive points to make this excellent value in the mid-range market.