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.