While most mobile manufacturers rarely go beyond one token ‘eco-friendly’ handset, Sony Ericsson become a prolific eco-warrior with its slew of tree-hugging GreenHeart blowers.
Its environmentally sound portfolio of handsets now numbers five with its latest member, the Elm, dispelling the notion that eco mobiles tend to be technologically barren, weighing in with feature set that includes a 5MP camera, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and support for A-GPS.
Join the Green party
Of course, this feature boost is refreshing but more important is how the Elm’s eco-credentials stack-up. Well, as part of the GreenHeart culture it’s fashioned from recycled plastics, daubed in locally-sourced waterborne paints while potentially hazardous substances have been given a wide berth.
The planet-saving doesn’t stop there. Packaging has been seriously reduced, the paper manual is no more, transplanted onto the phone instead, and the bundled green charger leaks less power in standby mode. You even get a pop-up reminder on the phone after juicing-up to unplug the wall charger.
From the front the Elm resembles an unassuming common-law Sony Ericsson candybar but its slinky, arched backbone – part of the manufacturer’s new ‘human curvature’ design code as debuted by the Vivaz – is a nice counterpoint to its rigid lines elsewhere.
It’s business as usual on the interface-front with the added exception of cool social networking homescreen widgets. Sliding panels let you switch between your Facebook and Twitter accounts, for example, while offering a high level of interaction.
In the case of Facey-B you can add comments, change status and toggle between entries from friends without leaving the homescreen. The same goes for Twitter; you can tweet, retweet and reply and even add your location and post photos. Luckily the hard rubber keypad is spot on for thumbing out quick missives.
With a strong Cyber-shot camera heritage, it’s no surprise to see the Elm packs a strong 5MP snapper. Auto and macro focus are sharp while the sensor delivers good level of detail and wholesome colours in good light.
Unfortunately, the LED-flash isn’t much cop but it does throw in Smile and Face detection modes and a smattering of scenes, white balance and effects for adapting to different lighting conditions.
The VGA-quality video recording at 30fps is similarly lucid but is blighted at times with a stuttering frame refresh rate and digital blocking. Still, you’ll still be pretty chuffed with the results, especially at this price point.
Dress up for the Opera
The default web browser is fine to use but we still recommend downloading the more efficient and friendlier Opera Mini for phones with small screens. Web pages load quickly over HSDPA and, of course, almost instantly if you lock onto a Wi-Fi connection.
The Elm is loaded with a nice-array of location-based software including NearMe to pinpoint bars and restaurants in your vicinity, basic Google Maps and if you’re willing to pay for the subscription, the voice-guiding Wisepilot sat-nav solution. The onboard GPS was super-quick to find a sputnik fix in all cases.
With carbon emissions clipped by 15%, the Elm is certainly a sound option for eco-consumers looking to reduce their carbon footprint. But at least this time round they don’t have to forgo cool features to help out Mother Earth.