The messaging application on the Sony Ericsson Elm is comparable to more sophisticated smartphones. The messages are organized in the form of conversational speech bubbles, making the threads easier to follow. The function can be toggled easily in the Settings menu. One feature not usually available in mobile inboxes is the ability to organize the messages into categories for easy reference and retrieval. It is also simple to set up an email account on the device, as it automatically retrieves settings for the more popular email service providers. Any attachments can be saved to the phone and transferred to a desktop at leisure, if the occasion arises.
The audio and video components of the phone are excellent, as is the case with most Sony Ericsson phones. The music player can handle most popular file formats, including a few that are more proprietary. The player is sleekly designed with the option to install interesting skins. It also encompasses the SensMe feature, which automatically generates a playlist based upon the user’s mood. The songs need to be tagged beforehand for the feature to work optimally, but the results are fairly good once it has been done.
There is an FM player as well, and even though it is not as well-designed as the music player, it is a useful application. The user can select and store up to 20 presets.
The video player is sophisticated and well-equipped, with automatic rotation. The player also has the ability to rewind and fast forward videos at will, and a screenshot facility. The user can take a snapshot of a video and save it to the gallery, which is an unusual feature for a mobile phone. The player only supports the standard video formats, although Sony Ericsson has devised a desktop application which can recode videos to suit the mobile player and the mobile’s screen size.
The camera is far from mediocre offering 5 megapixel capture. It can be accessed by the button or through the menu interface. The button itself is multi-functional, which becomes more apparent with further use of the device. The camera application has extra features like Face Detection and autofocus. It also links easily to the gallery for instant geotagging. An interesting feature is the Smile Shutter: the feature is activated by depressing the camera button right down and releasing it. The camera will then automatically click a picture as soon as someone smiles within its frame. The quality of the images is very good, with clearly defined images and vibrant colours coming through nicely. The video recording is good for a phone and useful for emergency situations.
Although the Sony Ericsson Elm can be connected easily to a computer, it has a proprietary FastPort instead of the more universal microUSB. To make matters worse, the cable is not included in the packaging. There are other viable connectivity options, like Bluetooth and a microSD card slot, however a cable would have been the fastest means of transfer. There is Wi-Fi connectivity, in addition to EDGE and 3G.
The web browser is very good for a phone this size, with a customizable shortcuts menu and an intuitive zoom control. Interestingly the browser supports Flash and is programmed to detect all RSS feeds easily.