Our pre-market unit of the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua came unpackaged but we did get some accessories with it - a microUSB 2.0 cable and an A/C adapter. A retail copy will probably have headphones as well but it's not to be taken for granted these days.
The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is identical to its predecessor in terms of size and looks. Just a fraction of a millimeter taller and wider, at the same 8.6mm of thickness. A single gram was added to the weight - the IP certification didn't bring about any extra bulk but called for a few changes on the body. For starters, the microUSB port and 3.5mm headphone jack have been sealed with water-tight lids.
Another change, which doesn't appear to have anything to do with the Xperia M2 Aqua being water-proof, is the back. Instead of the reflective glossy plastic of the Xperia M2's rear, Sony has opted for a matte, frosted-glass-like finish. The plastic feels much better to the touch, takes fewer smudges, and feels less scratch-prone.
The design of the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua is untouched. The Omnibalance aesthetic has carried the company through several generations - still perfectly relevant in a midrange context. Flat front and rear with a metal frame to hold the pieces together. The sides have matte finish for proper grip. The corners are subtly rounded at the very point, the sole exception in an otherwise very sharp, rectangular outline.
The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua isn't the most compact of devices, a little bigger than even some 5" phones, but still usable single-handedly. The thickness isn't overwhelming but the weight is something you'll notice.
Handling the Xperia M2 Aqua is comfortable. The squared-off corners of the device are a little sharp on the palm but Sony's choice of slightly rounded edges with rubberized bits helps in this regard.
The Sony Xperia M2 has pretty much the same controls as most of the Xperia smartphones released over the past year or so and the same layout as the Xperia M2. Above the screen we find the VGA camera, a couple of sensors, the earpiece and a small status LED.
Gone is the LED strip at the bottom that matched the dominant color on the current screen. There's just the tiny LED next to the earpiece. It won't be missed much anyway.
The right side has a half-press physical shutter button, a volume rocker and an aluminum power button, that's become a Sony staple.
The microSIM and microSD card slots are located above the power button, under plastic covers.
The microUSB port is no longer out in the open and supports the water resistance claims with a flap of its own.
The 3.5mm audio jack is on top as usual but this time with a water-tight lid as well. We would've preferred a water-proof jack like on most IP-certified phones - but the Aqua's IP68 rating obviously calls for more heavy-duty insulation. That said, the 8 in that code stands for submersion beyond 1m. Although there's no limit specified, Sony are probably playing it safe by committing to protection only at up to 1.5m depth.
The bottom of the Xperia M2 Aqua seems empty, but in fact the primary microphone and the loudspeaker are hiding behind a fine grille. The lanyard eyelet is also around.
The matte rear features the 8MP camera lens with a single LED flash, the NFC connection point and the secondary noise-reducing microphone.