Sony has used its impressive waterproofing skills to create the mid-range Xperia M4 Aqua. But how does this new phone stack up against an older, but still extremely powerful, watertight smartphone – the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.
These are two very different looking phones. On the one hand, you have the rugged Galaxy S4 Active with its chunky reinforced body and physical navigation keys, and on the other hand you have the slim M4 Aqua that looks like any normal modern smartphone.
Sony has pulled off a really impressive trick, squeezing water-tight seals into a phone that looks completely normal. But the M4 Aqua is actually slightly taller and wider than the S4 Active, although it is thinner, so the Sony has had to create a bit of extra space for its waterproofing.
One of the great things about the M4 Aqua’s design is that it’s more waterproof than the S4 Active. It’s rated IP68, meaning it’s protected to a depth of 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes. The S4 Active is rated IP67 so can only go to a depth of 1 metre.
Both phones have big 5-inch LCD screens, but they’re not equal. The S4 Active has an impressive Full HD resolution that makes everything look beautifully sharp. It’s also a really bright and colourful screen, which is great for games.
The M4 Aqua, by comparison, only has a HD resolution. It’s sharp enough, but not as eye-popping as the Galaxy. However, while the resolution might be lacking a little, the colours and brightness are really good.
As both these phones can be submerged, you can use their cameras under water thanks to physical shutter buttons. The S4 Active even has an Aqua Mode in the camera settings that makes sure colours still look as vibrant as they do normally.
But it’s the M4 Aqua that has the advantage in general picture quality. Its 13MP Sony-made camera takes fantastic photos that are a step ahead of the 8MP ones you can shoot with the Samsung.
And it’s the same story with the front cameras. The 5MP selfies you can take on the Sony look much clearer and brighter than the 2MP ones you can take with the S4 Active.
Batteries have come a long way in the last two years, so even though the M4 Aqua’s is slightly smaller than the one in the S4 Active, it’ll last longer. The official figures say the Samsung will give you an extra four hours of talk time, but the Sony will last more than twice as long on standby.
In real world use, the M4 Aqua could keep going for about two days from a single charge, while you’ll probably need to charge the S4 Active every night.
Both of these phones are fast. If you’re looking for raw speed to run the best games smoothly, the S4 Active is probably the one for you. Its quad core processor has an impressive top speed that the Sony can’t match.
But with eight cores, the M4 Aqua is much better for multitasking as is a lot more efficient. So if you like to jump from app to app, and want to be sure you won’t run out of battery before the end of the day, the Sony is perfect.
Sony’s new mid-range phone is on a par with Samsung’s flagship from two years ago. If you’re after a waterproof and tough phone that’s great for gaming, get the S4 Active. If you’re looking for a Jack of all trades with a top camera and long battery life, go for the new M4 Aqua.