Sony Xperia M2 is an affordable Android phone (hands-on)

CNET Editors' Take

February 23, 2014 11:45 PM PST

Sony Xperia M2 is an affordable Android phone

Sony's flagship Xperia Z2 smartphone might steal the headlines with its Full HD display, supercharged processor and 4K video recording, but if you fancy a phone with a more reasonable price tag, check out the new Xperia M2.

The M2 has a similar-looking glass front and back design to the rest of the recent Xperia range. Inside, it's packing a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, a 960x540-pixel display and an 8-megapixel camera. Those are hardly eye-popping specs, but the M2 will apparently come with a competitive mid-range price.

Sony has yet to say exactly how much it will be, but I expect it to sit somewhere around the £250 mark. It's due to hit stores in the UK in "spring", although Sony also hasn't announced if it will be available in the US.

Check out the affordable Sony Xperia M2 (photos)

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Design

With its all-glass front and back, stark Sony branding and sticking-out power button on the side, it's very easy to spot the family resemblances between the M2 and the earlier Xperia Z and Z1 phones. It doesn't have the aluminium edging of the Z1 however, and therefore doesn't have the same luxurious, premium feel, but with a much cheaper price tag, I can't complain too much.

Unlike Sony's other recent phones, the M2 is not waterproof.

With a 4.8-inch screen shoved inside, it's not exactly a tiny phone. It has quite large bezels, so the body of the phone is rather chunky. If you're after a pocketable phone, you might want to look towards the 4.3-inch Xperia Z1 Compact -- although you'll probably have to shell out some more cash, depending on how much Sony eventually asks for the M2.

Display

The 4.8-inch screen has a resolution of 960x540-pixels. That's quite a step down from the Full HD flagships, but so long as it's priced cheaply enough, it could be forgivable. In my hands-on time, the resolution seemed adequate for navigating around the Android interface. Homescreen icons looked reasonably clear, although individual pixels were noticeable when you look closely.

It seemed fairly bright though and colours didn't look bad either. Its resolution might not do justice to glossy Netflix shows like "Breaking Bad", but it seemed decent enough to handle the everyday essential tasks of tweeting and sending horrific selfies to your friends over Snapchat.

Features

Under the hood is a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, which should provide plenty of power for your social networking, although how it handles demanding games remains to be seen. Unlike its top-end sibling, the Z2, it'll arrive running the now slightly older Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Again, I'm happy to forgive that, as long as it's affordable, plus Sony has promised that it will receive an update to Android KitKat in the coming months.

Around the back of the phone is an 8-megapixel camera. That's also a big step down from the 20.7-megapixels of the top end Z2, but you really shouldn't expect flagship features on the budget models. 8 megapixels is a decent amount, and Sony has thrown in various photo tools too, including a panorama mode and burst mode. I'll be putting image quality to the test in the full review.

Outlook

With its lower-resolution display and 8-megapixel camera, the Sony Xperia M2 isn't going to appeal to those of you looking for the best smart phone tech around -- you guys should look towards Sony's Xperia Z2. Its specs seem more than adequate for most tasks though. If it's affordable, the M2 could be a good option if you don't want to spend all your cash on the flagships.

Correction: This story initially stated that the Xperia M2 is waterproof. Sony's other two products announced at Mobile World Congress, the Sony Xperia Z2 and Z2 tablet, are waterproof, but the Xperia M2 is not.

 

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Andrew is a Senior Editor at CNET and has always been fascinated by tech. He can normally be found debating the merits of undersized laptops and eating his stash of home-cooked food. Full Bio