Hello, my name is Dave, and i’m an iPhone user… Or at least i was until my 1st gen iPhone finally died. I’m currently a Sony Ericsson ‘Elm’ phone user. After the mild panic attack caused by the death of my iPhone, i’m actually rather please with the Elm as a replacement. No, it doesn’t have all the functionally of a full blown touchscreen smartphone, but it still has a good range of options, and quite a lot of other redeeming features.
The primary selling point of the Elm is it’s ECO-friendlyness. It’s made from recycled plastics using a CO2-light production process, has reduced packaging (basically a smaller box), a low power consumption charger, and a tiny manual, backed up by a larger e-manual.
Despite all it’s green cred, that didn’t stop Sony Ericsson skimping on the look and feel, or features. It has a good non-plastic feel to it, and is small and lightweight (10 x 45 x 14mm and 90g) with a lovely curved design.
The Elm also has built in WiFi and bluetooth, and comes with a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and flash. The button layout is nicely done, so it actually feels like a your using a camera rather than a phone when taking photos or video.
The main keypad layout is comfortable and easy to use – i’m surprised how quickly i got used to texting on a traditional phone pad again after being used to a full qwerty keyboard. That i think is partly due to the Elm’s predictive text actually being quite intelligent in it’s predictions!
My one critisisum would be Sony Ericsson’s insistence on using a proprietary headphone socket, rather than a standard 3.5mm jack, forcing you to use their headphones.
The ‘home screen’ on the Elm lets you set it to display one of number of built in widgets. These range from your Facebook feed, to you calendar app, to their own ‘Walk Mate Eco pedometer’ app (i’ve apparently walked 3534 steps today saving 503g of C02.)
The main interface is a standard 3×4 grid layout, and is nice and easy to navigate through using the Elm’s D-Pad.
As i mentioned earlier, i found texted pretty easy, with the predictive text actually helping rather than hindering. It stores text conversations like the iPhone, in an ‘instant messaging’ type layout, allowing you to keep track of previous texts by just scrolling upwards.
Internet & Email
Email access is about what you’d probably expect from a normal mobile. It’s serviceable, but not great. Its easy enough to set up, and the functionality is there, but it’s not exactly pretty.
There are a number of built in web enabled apps included on the Elm, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, and YouTube which work pretty well. However, the straightforward the internet access is a little on the ugly side. It’s easy enough to set up, and will run through WiFi if your in range or a hotspot or 3G if your not, but the internet content itself can get quite stripped back. It’s functional, but not pretty. Normal Internet browsing is the one area I do find i’m really missing a full smartphone.
The 5-megapixel camera takes decent photos and video giving accurate and vivid colours. It also comes with a range of technological software wizardry such as smile & face detection, and you can geotag photos, then upload them directly to sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Flickr.
The music player is nice and easy to use, and has a decent enough sound quality. Plus the 280Mb of on-board memory can be expanded up to 16Gb using a microSD card, so there should be more than enough room for your day to day tunes. The Elm also contains at radio which works well, although as i mentioned earlier, you are hampered by having to use the Sony Ericsson headphones to listen to your tunes.
The calendar/organiser is simple and easy to use, and – along with my contact list – synced easily on my Mac via iSync.
The Elm’s battery life claims 446 hours of standby time, and 4hrs of talk time (on a 3G network), although excessive WiFi use will sap that considerably.
Overall, I rather like the Sony Ericsson Elm. It may not be a fully blown smartphone, but it’s got most of the bases covered. The internet browsing does let it down a bit, but then if all your really using it for is checking up on the occasional news story, or that elusive pub quiz answer, it’ll work fine for you. Plus all the main social networking sites are covered using separate apps anyway which work really well. The camera is impressive for this level of phone too. If your looking for a phone that’s smart rather than a smartphone, the Elm is well worth a look.