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.