Sony Xperia M5 smartphone review: Dual big on versatility

Before I picked up the Sony Xperia M5 Dual, I’d never even used Android.

I’ve owned iPhones for the past seven years, and although not an Apple eulogist (I’ve never felt the need for an iPad or an Apple Watch) I’ve stuck with them because they’re really easy to use – especially if you own a Mac.

The switch to the Sony Xperia M5 – and to Android – was simple, though. Sony’s software for transferring contacts, music and other content from an Apple Macbook looked clunky but did the trick.

Android also proved easy to navigate and on the Xperia M5 Dual there’s a basic home screen version for those who just want the most popular functions in one place.

The Xperia M5 Dual smartphone was much quicker at downloads than my three-year-old iPhone 5 (as you might expect) and it has a much longer battery life (ditto). Sony boasts that its large, 2,600 milliampere hour battery will run for up to two days, but that depends very much on use. Heavy gameplay drained the battery within a few hours, but left on its own with just a few calls or texts and it lasted for five days.

The Dual part of Xperia M5’s name refers to the fact it can simultaneously house (and operate) two micro-sims – a really useful tool for anyone who lugs two mobiles around for work and pleasure or because they regularly travel between two countries.

Sony also bigs up the quality of its cameras. It has a 21.5-megapixel rear camera and a 13- megapixel front camera – both of which have autofocus. Video can also be shot in 4K. Yet given the quality of cameras on most smartphones now far exceeds the average person’s photographic capabilities, perhaps a more useful feature is the fact that it is both waterproof and dust-tight. This is particularly significant given the number of complaints you hear locally about other leading phones suffering from water damage because of humidity.

The Xperia M5 also works well with Sony’s new Smartband 2, a heart-rate tracker that can also be synced to provide other notifications.

Despite all of this, if asked to make the choice between the new Xperia M5 Dual and my three year-old iPhone, I’ll stick with what I have, thanks.

The Sony Xperia M5 Dual is available in the UAE for Dh1,799.

q&a smartband tracks your activity

Michael Fahy finds out if the Sony Smartband 2 will set pulses racing:

What does the Smartband 2 look like?

The unit itself is just a small piece of hard plastic a couple of centimetres long with a tiny computer inside that can be recharged through the same standard micro-USB that the phone uses. It comes with a soft plastic casing, like a watch strap without a face. It’s also waterproof to a 3-metre depth so it can be used for swimming.

How did it interact with the phone?

It was very straightforward. It has its own operating software which shows a range of indicators, including how much sleep you’ve had, your heart rate, how many steps you’ve taken and your running times. A separate programme, Lifelog, keeps track of these daily records and builds a picture of your activity over a longer period of time.

What’s the difference between this and a fitness tracker then?

Not that much, other than the way it works with the phone. It can be set up to vibrate and/or flash when you receive phone calls, messages or other notifications. It can also be programmed to go off if you move more than 10 metres away from your phone to make sure you don’t forget it.

Do I need a Sony phone to use one?

No. The Smartband 2 and its operating system work on all versions of Android from 4.4 and above, and iOS 8.2 and above.

How much does it cost? The Smartband 2 is Dh499.

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