The Sony Xperia M comes in an old-fashioned box - big and colorful - which contains the phone itself, the battery, a compact charger and a microUSB cable. A single-piece headset is also in the bundle (though our review unit came without the full set of accessories so we didn't have one).
The Sony Xperia M measures 124 x 62 x 9.3 mm and weighs 115g. Overall it's more compact than most Android phones we've encountered recently, though the screen bezel could've been thinner. For the sake of comparison, an iPhone 5 (also with a 4" 16:9 display) measures 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm and weighs 112g.
The Sony Xperia M closely follows the design guidelines of the Xperia family, without being too similar (like the Galaxy line). It has the trademark round, metal power key (the so-called OmniBalance design), slightly recessed sides of contrasting material like on the Xperia Z, an RGB light below the screen and a shutter key. The end result is one very attractive phone, despite being low on the totem pole.
The front holds the 4" LCD screen, surrounded by relatively big bezels (especially top and bottom, considering there are no physical buttons). Even so, the Xperia M is not a large device.
The back has a slight curve like Xperias of the Sony Ericsson era. It's made of plastic that wraps around the sides of the phone, giving it a nice unibody impression, but is actually removable so you can access the battery and the card slots.
Another plus about the back is the material - it's a matte plastic with a soft touch finish, making it very pleasant to the touch and fingerprint-resistsant (but can be a bit hard to clean once it inevitably gets smudgy in the end).
It all culminates in a great in-hand feel for the Xperia M - it's small and fits easily in the hand, the materials are pleasant and it's pretty light. At 9.3mm it's not the thinnest phone around but slips very easily into pockets and, again considering its price tag, the M is very well proportioned having an overall impression of a pricier phone.
The Sony Xperia M has a 4" LCD display of FWVGA resolution (480 x 854). That makes it relatively sharp at 245ppi. It's protected by a scratch-resistant glass of undisclosed make.
Sony Xperia M display under a microscope
Color rendering looks okay, but the white balance is on the cold side meaning there is a subtle bluish tint. Typical for Sony smartphones, viewing angles are not impressive at all, with a visible loss of contrast and even a color shift when you are not looking at the phone head on.
While the overall image quality is okay, the biggest problem with the display is that it's not very bright. We kept it at almost full brightness most of the time.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|Samsung Galaxy Core||0.29||236||811||0.51||430||842|
|Sony Xperia M||0.17||150||865||0.57||569||983|
|HTC One mini||0.15||177||1197||0.50||685||1361|
|HTC Desire 600||0.18||200||1106||0.46||532||1161|
|Samsung Galaxy S4 mini||0||166||∞||0||396||∞|
|Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4||0||201||∞||0||404||∞|
|Oppo Find 5||0.17||176||1123||0.51||565||1107|
|Samsung N7100 Galaxy Note II||0||215||∞||0||402||∞|
|LG Optimus G Pro||-||-||-||0.41||611||1489|
|Nokia Lumia 920||-||-||-||0.48||513||1065|
|LG Optimus G||0.14||197||1445||0.33||417||1438|
|Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III||0||174||∞||0||330||∞|
|Apple iPhone 5||0.13||200||1490||0.48||640||1320|
The front display glass is quite reflective too, making the screen hard to read in the sunlight.