We should all be familiar with Sony's custom gallery - Album. It organizes images into groups of thumbnails and sorted by date. You can change the thumbnails size by pinching.
Unlike previous versions there isn't a homepage that hosts all of your albums, instead you get the same swipe-able menu the app drawer is offering. There you can find all of your online and offline albums.
The gallery can connect to online albums (PlayMemories, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr) and also to other devices on the local network. Maps and Globe albums are also available, which use the geotagging info to sort photos by the location at which they were taken, and faces, which groups photos by the faces of the people in them.
Images can be cropped or rotated directly in the gallery. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also enabled.
There's a slide show using the SensMe brand and much like the music player feature, this one scans files and groups similar photos together.
The Walkman music player is part of the equipment of all recent Xperia smartphones. It features Music Unlimited integration and is not above trying to sell you songs, but you can hide the Music Unlimited stuff.
The Walkman interface is based on a hidden swipe-able menu that sort your music collection by Artist, Albums, Playlists, all songs and even the songs your friends are listening to (but you need to connect the player with your Facebook account). You can pop up the menu the same way you'd do it in the app drawer or the gallery - just swipe from the left edge of the screen.
The Music Unlimited stuff includes ways to discover new music - Charts, New releases and Channels. Those can be hidden individually (same goes for the artist/album/playlist tiles) or you can disable the service altogether.
The Infinite button is available in the Now Playing screen (just tap the album art) - it will help you find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google. Gracenote is used here too and it can automatically download information about your tracks and album art.
The Walkman player offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ option is here, which determines the best audio quality settings depending on the song you're listening to. We liked how it changed the music and carefully accentuated various details. Dynamic normalizer evens out the differences in volume between tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.
The Sound enhancements contain yet more settings. There's an equalizer with presets and manual settings (including tweaking Clear Bass). Then there's Surround sound mode, which imitates the Studio, Club or Concert Hall experience. The Clear stereo mode enhances the perceivable stereo channel separation. Dynamic normalizer minimizes the difference in volume between songs (great if you're playing a shuffled mix).
Speaker settings include Clear Phase, which adjusts the quality, while xLOUD boosts up the internal speaker.
There's also an FM Radio. The app features multiple visualizations and integrates with TrackID to recognize the currently playing song. You can even directly send an "I'm listening to..." post to Facebook.
Going waterproof hasn't really affected the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua audio output and its performance is mostly identical to that of its regular M2 sibling. The smartphone had spot-on frequency response and no distortion in both active external amplifier and headphones attached test scenarios. The noise level and dynamic range were excellent, too.
The only degradation that plugging in a pair of headphones caused was an average bump in stereo crosstalk, but it remained better than on the vanilla Xperia M2. The other problem that might turn a few audiophiles with extra expensive headphones are the less than stellar volume levels in both test cases.
And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Sony Xperia M2 Aqua||+0.02, -0.08||-86.5||87.5||0.0077||0.015||-87.9|
|Sony Xperia M2 Aqua (headphones attached)||+0.10, -0.04||-86.4||87.4||0.026||0.060||-57.4|
|Sony Xperia M2||+0.02, -0.08||-86.6||87.6||0.0076||0.014||-88.1|
|Sony Xperia M2 (headphones attached)||+0.08, -0.05||-86.5||87.5||0.023||0.056||-49.5|
|LG G2 mini||+0.12, -0.03||-93.5||93.3||0.0023||0.015||-92.7|
|LG G2 mini (headphones attached)||+0.09, -0.01||-93.1||92.9||0.012||0.042||-61.7|
|Samsung Galaxy S4 mini||+0.06, -0.05||-93.5||92.7||0.0090||0.056||-86.2|
|Samsung Galaxy S4 mini (headphones attached)||+0.08, -0.04||-93.2||91.8||0.029||0.089||-53.3|
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua frequency response
You can learn more about the whole testing process here.
The video playing app is dubbed Movies and it too has a great custom UI. It's connected to Gracenote, which helps you find additional information about the movies and TVs you have on the phone. It will even download posters for them and for movies, it will download metadata like genre, synopsis, director and cast.
Unfortunately, this doesn't work very well for TV shows - it doesn't recognize the S01E02 format and won't pull info about individual episodes. It gets worse, Gracenote seems to be lacking info on TV shows in general, we couldn't find even popular shows like The Big Bang Theory.
The Sony Xperia M2 Aqua was able to play most of the video files we threw at it but had some issues with MOV files. Videos with AC3 and AAC audio files didn't play as well. Still you can always download a more capable (codec-wise) third-party app from the Google Play store.
The video player supports subtitles, and you can customize their looks. Unfortunately, you cannot manually pick the subtitle file, it has to reside in the video folder to load up.