Sony Ericsson Elm review: Green roots

GSMArena team, 9 April 2010.
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The regular user interface packs widgets

The Elm uses the regular Sony Ericsson feature phone UI that's used in most of their midrange handsets. The Flash UI is well familiar and deservedly praised for its looks, speed and multitasking ability.

The standby screen is arranged in the usual manner with information on top indicating signal strength, currently used data carrier and battery status. At the bottom of the display, just above the context keys are their labels.

The options for the menu layout are the standard foursome - theme-dependent, 3 x 4 grid of icons, rotating view and single icon view.

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The well-known Sony Ericsson home screen • Main menu • GreenHeart and Harp themes

The rotating view features three animated front icons on the display, the center one showing the active selection. The other two icons are half-hidden, just as an indication of what comes next. Five other menu icons can be seen in the dim background.

The icon view displays a single icon at a time and a vertical bar featuring tiny icons for the other main menu entries. Neither of those view modes works with shortcut keys. Only the Grid view allows quick numeric keypad access.

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The alternative main menu layouts

The well-known Activity menu offers quick access to a user-defined list of favorite features, web, recent events and, of course, the Running Apps tab that takes care of multitasking.

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The well-known Activity menu

You can minimize the progress indicator when receiving a file over Bluetooth but you can't do that when sending a file.

Flight mode can only work with a SIM card in the device and requires a restart.

The interface is visually appealing and snappy. Auto rotation is enabled in the Media Center and is generally quite responsive.

There is one important upgrade on top of all that - the homescreen widgets. Sony Ericsson tried this concept on the C901, where the Facebook app had a handy homescreen shortcut with live updates.

There are now a total of five homescreen widgets: Calendar, Walk Mate, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Each of them takes almost the whole standby screen, so you can only have one visible at a time. But they can all be working at once and easily switched between using the D-pad.

You get to select which widgets will be active and you may choose to enable all of them. Pressing the Up key on the D-pad, lets you manage the widgets and set their behavior.

The Calendar widget is a shortened version of the actual app, showing the upcoming events.

Walk Mate should be familiar to Sony Ericsson users – a simple step step-counter, which works in the background. It has a green twist this time around and is aptly called Walk Mate Eco – it converts your walking exercise into saved CO2 emissions.Which of course only makes sense if you’re walking outdoors.

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Widget list • Calendar • Walk Mate Eco

The three social widgets are convenient shortcuts to the actual Facebook, Twitter and MySpace apps, with on-screen live updates. They show your friends’ profile pictures and their latest activities – just like the Facebook app on the C901.

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Facebook, Twitter and MySpace widgets

Traditional phonebook

The phonebook has space for 1000 contacts and 7000 numbers. You can choose to view contacts in the phone memory or on SIM, but not both. Either way, you can set up the phone to autosave to SIM all contacts that are being saved to the phone memory. You can also back up your entire contact list on the memory card and restore it from there.

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The Sony Ericsson Elm phonebook

Editing a contact employs a tabbed interface that’s well known for anyone that has used a Sony Ericsson handset in the past couple of years. There are five tabs that group related contact details. The first tab is for names and numbers, next up is web addresses such as e-mails and URLs. The third tab is for storing a picture, a custom ringtone, group, message tone and voice command, the fourth is for postal details and finally the fifth has fields for a note and a birthday (which you can add to the Calendar too).

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Viewing a contact • Tabs keep things in order

The name of the contact is written in only one field, but you still have the option to order contacts by first or last name. The phone guesses which is which and it does it very well. Naturally, you can search the contacts list by gradual typing.

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