* Prices may differ from that shown
It's pretty easy to navigate around the phone. You can set up various buttons to appear at the bottom and organise your apps onto different pages which you can navigate by swiping left or right. I particularly like the set of options (such as wifi, volume, data, flight mode, screen brightness etc.) positioned in a small panel that you simply click to enlarge. You can easily turn different functions on and off which I think is a nice touch. There are three small touch screen buttons that are constantly alert at the bottom of the screen which include the 'home' button and a small button that when pressed brings up a list of your currently open apps and a few basic tools (such as calculator, timer etc.). This makes it easy to navigate several app screens at once as well as shutting down any running unnecessarily. Very very stylish with a nice, responsive touch screen and several side buttons. I've not had a phone with a hold button on the side before but it hasn't taken me long to get used to it. It's a nice shape, quite large (but that's mostly because I've had little brick phones for years) but still compact. It doesn't feel particularly sturdy and is quite light in the hand, which concerns me in regards to its durability. The keyboard is a little bit cramped but is similar to my old Huawei so I'm used to it. Someone with large fingers may struggle though! It's also got a 'swipe' texting function that allows you to sweep your finger from letter to letter without letting go of the screen. I've had a little go at this and it seems to work quite well - though I'll probably stick to the normal tapping method.
I have owned this phone for a few months now and I have to say that I am disappointed with it. There are better phones out there in this price bracket. The camera and video features are poor. when filming in HD mode you lose stability so the picture looks really shaky. apparently this is the only phone that does this, the nokias don't do this. I haven't taken that many pictures and videos but I am already starting to run out of memory. It is not intuitive to use but I suppose this is a fault of the android operating system, for example, if I wanted to speak a text message I have to navigate through some obscure menus whereas on a nokia the microphone icon is there already waiting at the bottom. The layout just looks messy and confusing scrolling from left to right, it just does not look neat and tidy compared to windows tiles.
--Why did I choose the Sony Xperia M Smartphone?--
I don't really care about having a new phone and never really bother with the latest models. However when my old phone was not only severely cracked but had also become really slow I decided the time had come to purchase a replacement.
I don't even have a contract phone anymore (previous bills have been known to hit the £200 mark) and instead I use GiffGaff. For anyone not familiar, GiffGaff sell 'Goodybags' and I purchase one a month for £10 which provides me with enough minutes, and unlimited texts and internet which see me through the month and at a bargain price. I'm also not tied into a contract and can stop paying the £10 a month at any time. Anyway, the one downside to not having a contract is that I have to buy all my phones outright and don't get a 'free' phone or any of the phone upgrades which usually come with having a contract.
With this in mind, I was looking to not spend a fortune, but I also wanted something which would be decent and have the features I need, as well as hopefully last a while. Despite not caring about owning the latest phone I did quite fancy an iPhone 5c (only because I wanted the green one) but the price tag soon put a stop to that (and I got over it pretty quickly).
As it's January I decided to search for some phones in the sales and soon found the Sony Xperia M reduced from £199 to £99. Now I don't know if it actually was £199 to start with, but I've just had another look online and most places are selling the phone for £150 and I can't find it anywhere as low as £99 so I do still feel I got a bit of a bargain. If I'm honest I was also attracted to the fact that the phone comes in white with an additional lime green case which can be used in place of the white. I'm not saying I bought this phone purely because I love green things...but this certainly helped my decision.
Anyway, a quick read of a few reviews which all gave the phone 4 or 5 stars, a run through some of the features, and the fact I thought it was a bargain meant I decided to give it a go and went ahead and bought it. I sent my old phone off to mazumamobile.com to be recycled (see my other review if you are interested) and my new Sony Xperia M arrived a couple of days later.
As I mentioned I'm not that bothered about phones. I did give a bit of thought to choosing a new one, but that's only because I'm going to be using it every day. When the new one arrived I wasn't particularly excited but was pleased to hopefully have a fully working, un-smashed phone nevertheless.
--What comes in the box?--
The phone came in a fairly small box, as do most phones these days. The contents of this box were:
Additional lime green casing
Screen cleaning scraper and cloth
Instructions and warranty booklets
There was no SIM card present as I had ordered a SIM-free phone. This is because I have a GiffGaff SIM as mentioned before and these only worked in phones which aren't locked to a particular network.Upon opening the box the first thing I was going to do (not unusually) was to put the phone together, by putting the SIM and the battery into the back of the phone and then attaching the rear case. Unfortunately I was unable to do this as the phone requires a micro-SIM and I had a full sized one. This was not stated in the online description of the phone so I was unaware this would be the case.
Fast forward a couple of days and I had blocked my SIM card and re-ordered a new micro one and was ready to go again! I had to block the old one (basically as though it was lost) in order to be able to order a new one with the exact same phone number. Otherwise if I had just ordered a new one it would have come with a new phone number and I'd have had a carry on getting it changed. So apart from a couple of phoneless days (which I didn't really mind), the changeover was fairly smooth.
Anyway, back to putting the phone together. I was now able to do this and switched it on to find that the battery was around three quarters charged, but I plugged it into charge fully before I begun to use it.
Looks-wise I think the phone is a bit big personally, but it's not much bigger than a lot of other Smartphones on the market. It's about 5cm x 10cm. The screen takes up most of this, which I do like as it's better having a big screen for things like photos and videos. Above the screen is the word 'SONY' and just above that is the speaker, with the camera lense just next to that (this is the front camera and there's one on the back also). All in all a very standard phone layout. Down one side of the phone there are a few small, silver buttons; an on/off button, volume buttons and a third button which can be used to operate the camera. Down the other side of the phone there are no buttons but there is the port for inserting the charger and on the top of the phone there's one for inserting headphones.
The phone is white and as I mentioned before it comes with additional lime green casing. This is only for the back on the phone, so the front is white (well the parts that aren't taken up by the screen are) and the edges and back are lime green. I think this looks really good. Obviously you could just use the full white casing if you prefer a white phone. The Sony Xperia M also comes in black with an additional purple case, rather than the white and lime green, and I'm sure this looks good too.
Overall the phone looks quite modern and is quite slim and lightweight, despite the fairly large surface area.
Now I'm not a very technical person so I am going to do my best here...
For anyone who is properly interested in the technical specifications, the website listed the following features:
4 inch TFT scratch-resistant touch screen
5 Mp fast-capture camera with Exmor RS
4x digital zoom with auto focus
Additional lime rear case (think I may have already mentioned that one a few times!!)
1GHz Qualcomm dual core processor (I really don't know what this means)
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) OS
WiFi; 3G; Bluetooth 4.0, NFC
4Gb internal storage, expendable by up to 32Gb via microSD card
For anyone who just wants to hear about the features from the point of few who someone who the most of the above doesn't mean much to, I'll try and explain things in my own way.
Now I know what 4 inch screen means and as I mentioned before the screen is a decent size and takes up a lot of the front of the phone. The fact the screen is scratch resistant is yet to be tested as after only a week of ownership I haven't actually dropped/scraped/scratched/stood on this phone yet. It does seem as though it wouldn't scratch easily though and it feels quite durable, so for now I'll just believe this one is true.
There are two cameras, one on the front and one on the back. The one of the front is basically for taking a picture of yourself. This doesn't have a flash feature (as I'm guessing that would be a terrible idea which could lead to some sort of eye injury) and unless you're in a very well lit room the photos come out really dark. I'm not too fussed about this as I don't really plan to use the 'selfie' camera.
The camera on the back of the phone (the normal camera which takes pictures of other people and things) seems to be quite good. This does have a flash feature which is pretty much brighter than the sun and practically blinds everyone I take a picture of but apart from that the pictures come out really clearly. Obviously flash can be turned off when it's not necessary. There are a few other useful features on the camera such as auto timer, zoom and auto focus. It's easy to use and also very easy to switch between the two cameras through pressing one button. Again, back to the phone having a big screen, it definitely makes the photos look better. I am a rubbish photographer and even I can take a half-decent photo with this phone.
The fact this phone runs on Android is another thing I like about it, as my previous couple of phones and my tablet are all Android so it's the operating system I am used to. The Android apps are all available from the Google Play Store and so the phone comes with this on it. The Play Store had thousands and thousands of apps and games and many of them are free. I've downloaded a couple of games and also the 'couch to 5k' app and this all work well and much better than they did on my old, dying phone.
The Sony Xperia M has both WiFi and 3G. I use the WiFi when I'm at home as it now automatically connects and then when I'm not at home it automatically switches to 3G. I've had no problems with this so far and the internet has run really quickly when using either WiFi or 3G. I've had no problems connecting at all. The browser on the phone is Google Chrome, which I use on my tablet and PC and again find easy and quick to use. By default, opening the browser opens up the Google search page so it's easy for me to either search in the search box or just type an address into the address bar.
The phone has a 4Gb memory which isn't that big if I'm wanting to download a lot of music or apps. It's been fine so far with a few songs and apps but if it gets full I can always insert a memory card so it's no problem really. 4Gb will hold approx. 1000 songs but it's the apps which take up more space and may end up filling it up quickly.
They are the main features of the phone. Other items on the phone's menu include the usual things like text messaging, emails (it was very easy to connect to my Hotmail account), maps, alarm, clock, notes, contacts and gallery. There are a few apps already on there too such as Facebook and Youtube as I guess a lot of people normally download these anyway.
Overall it has all the features I could ever need, and the main things I use a phone for are texting, calling, taking photos, internet, games and Facebook. I have all this and more.
--Using the phone--
When I first put the phone together and switched in on I wasn't sure whether I was really going to like using it. It felt a little cheap/plastic and almost too lightweight. I also felt the graphics and layout of the phone seemed a little dated and I was slightly disappointed.
I honestly think it's just the change from my old phone which I was so used to which made me initially dislike using this one. After about a day of using it I completely changed my mind and found it really quite nice to use. It probably helped that after a bit of time I started personalising the phone with my own background and the features I use most of the homepage. It also works really quickly and never freezes which is a nice change from my previous phone!
I think the only thing I still don't like about using the phone is that the touch screen is super sensitive and sometimes when I'm texting I can easily hit wrong buttons or even come out of the message altogether just by slightly catching one of the other buttons.
Something that I am impressed with is battery life. It lasts two or three days which seems to be quite a long time in the world of Smartphones.
Overall it's a very easy, efficient and generally nice phone to use once I got used to it.
--Price and availability--
As I mentioned before I paid £99 for this phone and it now seems to be selling at around £150. It is available at many shops including most of the supermarkets, major phone shops, and some other places I hadn't heard of such as Simply Electronics. I personally bought my from Very.com as I was looking at maybe buying a phone that I would pay off monthly but due to the great price I bought it outright from Very - I think this was the best price around.
The phone certainly seems to be readily available at many outlets online and I've seen it in-store at a few of these places too.
--Would I recommend the Sony Xperia M Smartphone?--
Yes I would - and certainly at the price I paid for it. It may not be the newest phone around but it has all the features I need, works really efficiently and looks pretty nice.
If you're looking for a half-decent Smartphone but don't care about having the latest model then this could be the one for you.