We should all be familiar with Sony's custom gallery - Album. It organizes images into groups of thumbnails and sorts them 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 navigation drawer as the app drawer is offering. There you can find a selector of 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. Filters and effects are also abundant. Quick sharing via Picasa, Email apps, Facebook, Bluetooth or MMS is also available.
The Walkman music player is part of the equipment of all recent Xperia smartphones. 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 to 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 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 the 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.
There's also an FM radio tuner with RDS. 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. The interface is very intuitive and complete with stunning animations. Possibly one of the best FM radio apps out there.
Of course, you would need to have your headset plugged in for the FM radio to pick up any signal.
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 naming convention and it won't pull info about individual episodes.
The Sony Xperia E4g was able to handle videos up to 1080p resolution. It had issues with the AC-3 audio codec and failed to load sound in videos carrying it but that's mostly normal for smartphones these days. MKV movies went through, but without sound because of their AC-3 audio codec.
The video player comes with subtitle support by default, the only requirement is both file names (video and subtitles) to be identical.
The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua did very well in our audio quality test. The smartphone did a great job in the first part, where it's connected to an active external amplifier and posted very scores top to bottom. Its volume levels come up just below average, but everything else about the output is excellent.
Plugging in a pair of headphones did harm the stereo crosstalk notably, but had no effect on the other aspects of the performance. Once more, the volume levels were nothing worth writing home about, though, so we have to deduct a couple of points and give this one a very good, rather than a perfect mark.
And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Samsung Galaxy Alpha||+0.01, -0.04||-96.6||92.8||0.0058||0.0091||-97.1|
|Samsung Galaxy Alpha (headphones attached)||+0.04, -0.01||-95.7||92.7||0.013||0.033||-65.6|
Sony Xperia M4 aqua pact frequency response
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.