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Sony Ericsson Elm J102 - Interface, Camera and Verdict

By Edward Chester


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GoogleMaps takes advantage of the onboard GPS and operates surprisingly quickly, though moving around the map using just a D-pad does become tiresome. There's also WisePilot Sat-Nav software but it isn't particularly easy to use and certainly isn't good enough for use in the car. Rather more useful are apps for finding stuff like restaurants and cinemas near where you are, or for tracking your progress when going for a run.

Sony Ericsson's usual Multimedia interface is present and it's as nice to use as ever. A vertical list gives you quick access to photos, music, videos, and games and as you move into each sub menu, you get a visual representation on the left edge of which level you're at in the overall menu system. Photos gives you access to your locally stored and Facebook pictures as well as Picasa, Blogger, and Flickr picture services. Music arranges your music according to the usual Artist/Album/Track arrangement and also houses podcasts, a link to connect to media servers, and a link to the PlayNow portal for downloading music. As for Video, you get access to your local videos, PlayNow, and YouTube. Only one game comes pre-installed, and it's a rather poor Tetris clone, but you can buy others from PlayNow.

We've come to expect a good quality camera on Sony Ericsson phones and the J102 is no exception. The application loads quickly and shot to shot time is adequate with around two shots every 10 seconds. More importantly, results are better than average. There's no obvious lens distortion, colours are accurate, and the LED flash does a reasonable job in the dark. Obviously detail levels aren't amazing and it has its limitations but with smile detection and panorama, as well as plenty of scene modes, you've a good chance of getting a usable shot in most situations.

A video mode is also available and again, it's a cut above the rest. It's not HD but with a resolution of up to 640 x 480 pixels there's an adequate amount of detail and the maximum framerate of 30fps means you should get nice smooth footage that can cope with bit of movement onscreen.

As we would expect, the Elm held up well in call quality tests with ample volume available from the earpiece and clear audio at both ends of the line. The speakerphone particularly impressed with a surprisingly deep, warm, and powerful tone from the speaker and impressive noise isolation through the microphone. However, battery life seemed to be much less impressive. We would have expected to get at least three days of use out of this phone with fairly regular use and certainly be able to last a night in standby even with less than a quarter battery left. However, we found it would regularly run dry after a couple of days, even with very light usage. This was with Wi-Fi, 3G, and GPS left on and with the Facebook app on the front page, though.


The Sony Ericsson Elm mostly lives up to its remit of being an easy to use, relatively feature-rich, yet environmentally-friendly candybar phone, with particular highlights being the camera and aluminium battery cover. However, the lack of a headphone jack would really put us off and without turning off many of the best bits – Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS – battery life isn't the best.

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April 26, 2010, 2:12 pm

Sony Ericsson will never learn. Proprietary jacks are phone killers. Only the stupid and the almost hermit-like ill informed will buy a phone like this today.

Martin Daler

April 26, 2010, 3:00 pm

Green?? With a proprietary charger socket necessitating another landfilling proprietary mains charger and car charger, they fall flat on their face before even the thing is juiced up.


April 26, 2010, 4:16 pm

Rizwan: I wish that were true. Sadly, people will persist in buying devices (phones or otherwise) that use proprietary connections, proprietary file formats etc.

It's true that more phones are using standard connections, and more cameras are using SD cards. But meanwhile (for example), Microsoft can still make you buy a needlessly proprietary charger for your XBox controller, Apple can still require "special" earphones for the Shuffle - and Sony Ericsson can persist with their infuriating chunky connectors.

The problem is that our idealism is not shared by the majority of consumers, who either don't realise or don't care that by being a bit more selective about our purchases we could force companies to stop these practices.


April 27, 2010, 1:40 am

Although it's not actually the point you are all making, but doesn't the phone (all phones) come with a mains charger anyway?

You wouldn't expect to buy a piece of electrical equipment without a plug would you, so you would expect a charger as standard!

As long as you recycle the phone for further use, when you've upgraded what's the problem?

As far as car chargers are concerned, unless Sony Ericsson have changed their connections, then it's likely that the owner may have had a recent SE phone (and car changer before). Many people, rightly or wrongly, stay loyal to a brand.

For my phone (not an Elm), I purchased a £4.99 headphone adapter and it works absolutely fine. I would've preferred a headphone socket, but it's no big deal to have an adapter.

Martin Daler

April 27, 2010, 1:25 pm

@niftynigel - this phone makes a specific 'green' claim. With the ubiquity of usb-style chargers, if the phone accepted that de-facto standard then they could quite happily make the charger a cost option, and anyone with a shred of greenness, and several USB chargers already cluttering the home and office, would welcome the chance to save money and landfill at the same time. I accept that this is a change from the norm, but then any USP, by definition, is a change from the norm. As to recycling, that is the least favourable of the green options, coming a long way behind 'don't make it in the first place'.

A proprietary charger is a bad idea anyway, but to label it as 'green' just rubs it in.


April 28, 2010, 11:02 am

Finally, the Fiat Multipla of the phone world.

It's pig ugly. I mean from every angle, this bulge on the back makes it look overweight. Keypad reminds me of Alcatel's past efforts, or Nokia 1209, the whole phone just looks so cheap.


July 31, 2010, 1:57 am

The reviewer describes the web browser as "basic" - does a "basic" mobile browser have Adobe Flash support like on the Elm?! What about the beloved and over-hyped iPhone - cough! And why would you want to download a twitter client from the Sony Ericsson store when there is already one built in - twit {excuse the pun - maybe I should have said "twat"}!!

I also don't know what the reviewer is talking about when he snottily derides the "sheer number of buttons and features". What?!! It's got the same number of buttons as a standard phone; actually less buttons than my last phone. So it's not a touchscreen - who cares if it doesn't follow that current fashion trend. ... I also would have thought that "a sheer number of features" was a good thing, but apparantly since Apple has entered the phone market the Apple Reality Distortion Field TM seems to have turned that on its head.

@Randy - I thought the exact same thing about this phone when I had only seen it on the internet - I thought the back was sheer ugly. However, when you get it in your hand and see it from different angles it really is not at all; actually, the appearance really grows on you and now I think it is very attractive.


January 4, 2011, 12:29 pm

This is the only review of this phone that mentioned it using the Symbian OS. Please confirm this, as to me it looks like the proprietary Sony mobile OS, and not Symbian. This could be classed as false advertisements!


January 30, 2011, 7:08 pm

Hi friends,

SE ELM one of the best camera mobile,It features Lots of gadget inbuilt like GPS Navigation,5MP Camera,Multimedia,Excellent video capture mode.One this you should keep in my while taking picture on this mobile,It has Autofocus and manual focus and if you feel you hand is little shaky while taking pics go for auto focus mode else you can take manual mode. On day light pics has excellent ISO rate so you pics clarity is aswesome but at same time on night time or at dim light you pics wont look that bad but its ok. Since camera dont have zoom on high resolution you cant take zoom pics but i have option for that i bought 8x Universal Zoom lens for this mobile to take long shot.i have posted my review about the lens and favorite picture taken using this mobile at



February 4, 2011, 4:31 am

Coming from my trusty old C702, I really wanted to like the Elm. But it seems that SE were so bent on this eco-friendly thing that they forgot how to make a phone that actually works well. Excellent phone functionality aside, I was disappointed by the very reason I chose the Elm to replace my C702: GPS. In the C702, GPS control is separated from the operation of GPS-based apps such as Google Maps and Tracker. The Elm, by contrast, has its GPS run only if and when a GPS app is being run. Worse yet, when navigating, the receiver cuts loose from connected satellites whenever you come to a halt (at, say, a traffic light), and only tries to reconnect if you tell it to do so manually by reactivating the application. This entire GPS business almost completely unusable with the Elm (and the Hazel, for that matter).

Then there is LED flash control. When I try to focus for a shot in the dark, the flash only shines for a moment to help AF, but good luck trying to compose the shot. In the C702, I could switch the LED on or off manually with the # key when the camera is on. How hard could it have been to incorporate that into the Elm?

That's why I'm refurbishing my C702 (the two of them).

Verdict: the Elm is for people who don't take their phones too seriously.


April 22, 2013, 11:05 am

i bought j102 en ceder but they all have one problem(inactive sim) can anybody tell me what to do

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