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Sony Ericsson Elm J102 - Screen and Interface

By Edward Chester

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Something we haven't touched on yet is the Elm's supposed environmentally friendly characteristics. These include using recycled plastics and non-toxic paints to construct the phone as well as using a small cardboard box with no plastic padding for transportation. The charger (the only other thing in the box bar a couple of manuals) is also supposed to be more efficient, and when you unplug the phone it reminds you to unplug or turn off the charger as well. As we said in the Naite review, you'll probably do the environment more good by buying second-hand but we're at least glad to see some evidence of the tech world embracing a greener way of life.

LCD, rather than the much lauded OLED, is the technology used for the Elm's 2.2in screen, but don't let this put you off. Yes, its viewing angles aren't as good as OLED and its colours aren't quite so saturated but the former is still perfectly adequate and the latter are still strong. Black levels are also decent and despite a seemingly mediocre resolution of 240 x 320 pixels, everything looks smooth and easy to read – a testament to the phone's image handling rather than inherent quality of the screen, it must be said. Video is also nice to watch, though given the screen size you're unlikely to want to do this with any regularity.

Aside from the impressive image handling, the Symbian-based operating system Sony Ericsson has employed does an excellent job when it comes to ease of use and speed.

The homescreen is essentially fixed with notification icons across the top and shortcuts to contacts, the main menu and a search function across the bottom. However, you can add widgets to the homescreen, which you can then scroll left and right between. The choice is somewhat limited with just Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Calendar, and Walk Mate Eco apps on offer but it's better than nothing. The Walk Mate Eco app is essentially a pedometer that uses the internal accelerometer to work out how many steps you've taken and thus how much carbon dioxide you've saved. You can also assign shortcuts to the left, right, and down, D-pad directions when on the homescreen.

Open the main menu and you're greeted by a simple and familiar grid of shortcuts that gives you quick access to the camera, media browser, message folder, and web browser, among other things. Enter a secondary menu and you're presented with simple clear lists. Everything works very quickly and is intuitively laid out.

Messaging capabilities are decent for a feature phone but not quite on the level of a smartphone. SMS and MMS messages can be viewed in conversations or by order received. IMAP and POP3 email is also supported but there's no push capability for that truly real time email experience. Facebook also comes pre-installed and it's a really slick app with full access to all Facebook features bar instant messaging and apps.

With its small screen, web browsing can feel a little cramped but most content remains readable thanks to its excellent image and text handling, Also, it's fast and displays complicated layouts correctly most of the time. The only major downsides are no tabbed browsing for opening multiple pages at once and no flash support, neither of which we'd expect on a handset of this calibre.

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Rizwancd0

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.

MrGodfrey

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.

niftynigel

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.

Randy

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.

paulster

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.

roffle

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!

Diwakar

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





http://quazen.com/arts/photogr...

sjanzeir

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.

mashaa

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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