We first encountered Sony Ericsson's new line of environmentally friendly 'Greenheart' phones when we looked at the Naite. It was a nice enough budget handset but definitely had room for improvement, which is where the Elm J102 comes in. Available for around £150 either SIM-free or on PAYG, it's the next step up and correspondingly has a much better specification.
This is a typical candybar phone with a 2.2in screen set above central navigation controls and a 12-button keypad at the bottom. It stands 110mm tall, making it only a mite shorter than large handsets such as the iPhone. However, at just 45mm wide and 14mm deep it's far from a chunky handset.
Sony Ericsson hasn't strayed too far from familiar territory with the Elm's styling – there's sadly no wooden finish, for instance – but it has tweaked a few things here and there. For a start, the backplate is brushed aluminium, which is a finish we certainly wouldn't expect to find on such a modest handset. This backplate also covers the top section of the phone rather than the bottom or whole thing, as is more conventional. Perhaps most striking, though, is how the phone becomes thicker about a quarter of the way up its back. This gives it a peculiar bottom-heavy profile that we're not sure we approve of, despite it making the phone sit more securely in your hand. .
While the aluminium back hints at a phone with high build quality, the rest of the Elm doesn't quite hold up so well. The screen has a tough and perfectly flat finish and the keys are all securely seated with no excessive wobble and a nice positive click. However, the overall body of the phone is a little creaky and wobbly: something that shouldn't affect its performance but just takes the edge off any feeling of quality.
The navigation keys are standard Sony Ericsson fare and the two soft keys' functions change depending upon the application you're using. Then we have call answer and call end (and power) buttons and the D-pad in-between. The bottom left button calls up a combined task manager and shortcut box while the button marked 'C' performs a backspace function. We've always found this layout to be quick and easy to use and so it is here.
Further controls can be found on the right edge. Here there's a shutter button for the 5-megapixel camera and a volume rocker switch that doubles as a digital zoom. Aside from the camera and its flash on the back, the only other notable physical feature is the charging port; it's the usual proprietary Sony Ericsson one. This replaces a conventional headphone socket and unlike many Sony Ericsson devices, the company hasn't included a headset adapter in the box. In other words, if you want to use your choice of headphones with this phone, you'll have to invest in a third party adapter. The included headset has two earpieces and incorporates a microphone but it's not a patch on even a £20 pair of headphones when it comes to music listening.