Sony Ericsson Elm review: Sony Ericsson Elm

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The Good Social-networking fans will approve of the Facebook and Twitter widgets; useful GPS functionality; speedy HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity; FM radio included.

The Bad Proprietary headphone jack means you can't use your own cans; user interface is often sluggish; small screen.

The Bottom Line Sony Ericsson's latest eco-friendly handset abounds with apps, in an effort to be a best-of-both-worlds phone. But the Elm still feels like a compromise

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7.5 Overall

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The Sony Ericsson Elm is intended to let tree huggers make guilt-free phone calls on the move. Unlike previous entries in Sony Ericsson's eco-friendly GreenHeart series, however, the Elm and its Hazel sibling don't skimp on features.

The Elm is available for £15 per month on a two-year contract, or for around £120 on a pay-as-you-go deal. You can also pick it up for around £170 SIM-free.

Treat 'em green
The Elm is one of only a few phones to wave the eco-friendly flag. No, it's not made from wood or parts of dead animals, but it does use recycled plastics, eco-friendly paint and a low-power-consumption charger. It also comes in comparatively small box, while a paper manual is dispensed with, in favour of an electronic manual on the phone itself.

Unfortunately, the Elm's approach to saving the planet can take a rather irritating form. Nannying pop-up messages reminding you to unplug your charger from the mains, and the screen's tendency to turn itself off prematurely, can become annoying.

Then there are the apps. Walk Mate counts your steps throughout the day, converting this exercise into the amount of carbon dioxide that you haven't caused to be emitted into the atmosphere -- Sony Ericsson is presumably under the impression that we normally ride a scooter around the office. A tally of burnt calories would perhaps be more useful.

The proprietary port on the side of the Elm gets our goat something rotten -- it means you can't use your own headphones or easily transfer media to a PC

Eco Mate offers pedantic advice via an environmental quiz, and Green Calculator measures how evil you are to the planet. The Elm means well, but do people really buy mobile phones to be told how to help the environment?

Slim and curvy
With its arched back, the Elm may remind you of a miniature version of a typical landline phone. That's not to say it isn't attractive, though. Its slim, black and silver, candybar-shaped body sits relatively well in your hand. The small, 56mm (2.2-inch), 240x320-pixel screen doesn't really stand up to comparison with the OLED screens on the market, but it's certainly sharp and usable for the applications offered, such as the YouTube one.

Despite its green credentials, the Elm doesn't skimp on features, improving on previous GreenHeart phones, like the no-frills Naite. There's a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash, 3G and HSDPA support (up to 7.2Mbps), GPS, an Internet browser, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Java-based games, MP3 and AAC music playback, and an FM radio. 

The 5-megapixel camera comes with a bright LED photo light (also usable as a torch) and takes relatively clear shots, thanks to its autofocus, although colours can be slightly dull. The camera also offers face- and smile-detection features, and you can geotag your photos thanks to the phone's GPS support. There's only 280MB of integrated memory, but you can expand that to a more satisfactory 16GB with a microSD card.

Indeed, you're rather forced to use a microSD card, due to the fact that Sony Ericsson doesn't supply a USB cord with the Elm. "No problemo," you might think. "I have plenty of USB cords." But the Elm has a proprietary port, so you'll have to either shell out for a specific cable, or transfer photos and music via a microSD card, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Why Sony Ericsson? Why?

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