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Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 4G: The Android smartie that can take its drink

Beerproof flagship lookalike topples Moto G from its perch

Pick a card...

Like the Moto G, the M4 has a microSD card slot to ease some of that storage pain and it’s rated for cards up to 128GB, rather than the G’s 32GB. Sony does make a 16GB (and a dual-SIM) version of the M4, but it is not currently available in the UK and Sony couldn't give me a date for when, or if, it will be.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 4G Android Smartphone

Just a single speaker, which does the job nicely, and a dedicated camera button

As with camera performance and display quality, with battery life there is little to choose between the Sony and the Motorola. The Sony’s fixed 2400mAh battery may give away 70mAh to the Motorola on paper, but subjected to similar usage regimes the two phones will deliver very similar run times. Loop a 720p video and the M4 will keep you entertained for about nine hours.

Whether you like your Android stock or with some icing on the top is a matter of personal preference. Sony’s Xperia launcher overlays Android 5.0 and offers some handy bespoke additions like, keep-the-screen-on-while-you-hold-it and the familiar Sony "small apps". The design of the UI is quite attractive too, a tonic to the flat look of Material Android.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 4G Android Smartphone

Xperia launcher offers handy 'just viewed' widget (left). Small apps are a standard Xperia feature and run on top of other apps on the same screen (centre). Samsung-esque screen features come to Sony – it works too (right)

Motorola, on the other hand, offers a near-to-stock experience and Android 5.1. It’s probably safe to assume that Motorola will update the Moto G more regularly and more expeditiously. Keep in mind, though, that Sony offers three excellent media apps in the form of Album, Video and Music – the Walkman name now seemingly having been dropped from the music app.

Sound quality with a decent pair of cans was also very good, although there’s no built-in support for noise-cancelling earphones. Support for DNC ’phones was something that I failed to mention in my review of the Z4 Tablet and boy did I hear about it, so clearly it's a more important feature than I give it credit for.

To wrap up, it's worth mentioning that Sony gives you an NFC chip, dual-band Wi-Fi and a digital compass, all things the Moto G lacks. Bluetooth on the M4 is also more up-to-date, packing version 4.1 compared to the Motorola's 4.0. If you’re keen on USB On-The-Go hosting, then you’re out of luck with the M4.

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 4G Android Smartphone

No flagship, but it bluffs it quite well

Both devices have an FM radio and, this being 2015, active noise cancellation with dedicated microphones to improve intelligibility on the go. Call quality and signal reception/retention were both tiptop on the M4.

The Reg Verdict

Is the Xperia M4 Aqua worth the extra £20 over the Moto G? Of course it is. The simple fact it looks and, to a much greater degree than the Moto G, performs like a flagship makes that an easy question to answer.

If the Moto G were available for £150, the natural order would be restored. But it isn't. And to me, that makes the M4 Aqua the best, and best value, sub-£200 'Droid you can buy in Blighty today. ®

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 4G Android Smartphone

Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 4G: The Android smartie that can take its drink

Flagship look-alike 5-incher with a 720 x 1280 display, Snapdragon 615 SoC, 2GB of RAM, a dedicated camera button and IP65/68 certification
Price: £199 RRP

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