Sony Ericsson Elm review: Green roots
Expensive GPS navigation
The Sony Ericsson Elm features a built-in GPS receiver. Its sensitivity is decent enough and with A-GPS enabled, it managed to acquire a lock almost instantaneously.
The Elm is equipped with Wisepilot navigation software and offers all the features you'd expect in a proper SatNav solution. There's voice-guided walk and drive navigation, maps are courtesy of NAVTEQ, there's 3D view of the maps, extensive route-planning settings, speed camera alerts, POI and weather. SatNav software is a rare sight in a feature phone - installing one yourself is near impossible.
Its main downside is that maps are not stored locally but instead are downloaded over the air. A flat data fee is recommended but 1MB of data should get you about 600km of navigation. Still, we would have liked to have a map downloader as well, like with Nokia Maps. It really would have helped in avoiding data roaming charges.
We also wish there was a built-in compass like on most of its competitors to facilitate navigation.
Wisepilot for Sony Ericsson comes with 30-days trial period, beginning the first time you start the app. After this month expires you will need a subscription – 3 months in Europe will set you back 19.95 euro and for North America 3 months cost 19.95 US dollars.
After Nokia released their Ovi Maps with full voice-guided navigation for free this seems just way too expensive. For almost 30 euro for 3 months we at least expected to get to download the maps, because paying the data charges (especially when roaming) really ramps up the price of the whole thing.
Google Maps is included as well if you prefer it.
A single game onboard
Sony Ericsson Elm has only one Java game preinstalled – the Quadrapop. It’s a Tetris replica, this time with some colorful creatures instead of bricks.
By this point it must be pretty clear that the Sony Ericsson Elm is a reasonably attractive package. Rich functionality comes in a well built shell and the potent user interface has done well to be in step with the times. Things get even sweeter if you happen to like the human-curvature design. And we need to say it straight – it’s not a gimmick, ergonomics are excellent.
So if you haven’t been caught in the touchscreen wave, the Sony Ericsson Elm is certainly worth a look when choosing your next phone. The social network integration and the top connectivity options don’t make it a smartphone but are certainly nice to have. Imaging is good enough to let the Elm take advantage of some of that Cybershot nostalgia.
To give you a better idea of the good value for money the Sony Ericsson Elm offers, we’ll take a look at several of its competitors that cost roughly the same.
The Nokia 6700 classic is possibly quite a threat. The slim metal-clad handset is a close match for imaging but fails in the connectivity department for the lack of WLAN. On the other hand if smart is your game, the Nokia N79 is a S60 3rd Symbian smartphone that can deliver.
Of course if you are happy with the Sony Ericsson Elm, but just wish for a bigger screen, the Sony Ericsson Hazel slider-twin is the way to go. It offers basically the same package but the slider form factor has made more room for the display. However, this will probably mean a slightly higher asking price too.
Finally if you are still sitting on a fence regarding touchscreen, you might want to take a look at some of the low-end smartphones out there. The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the HTC Tattoo are slightly more expensive and obviously lesser cameraphones too, but offer full-touch control and larger screens (not to mention the full-featured smartphone capabilities).
As you see, the Sony Ericsson Elm is among the solid offerings in this price range, fully capable of standing its ground against the competition. Plus, it carries the GreenHeart logo and the eco-friendly vibe to give you a nice warm feeling inside. GreenHeart has still a long way to go to reach Cybershot or Walkman, but the Elm is one step closer.