Sony Ericsson Elm & Sony Ericsson Hazel

A pair of new "GreenHeart" handsets, the Sony Ericsson Hazel and Sony Ericsson Elm are two fairly conventional phones that slot into the upper midrange market.

 Sony Ericsson Elm

What sets these two handsets apart from most other phones is their environmental credentials. Although all mobile phones

are quite environmentally unfriendly, mostly due to the exotic materials that they are made from, the Elm and Hazel do go some way to reducing the impact that they make.

To this end, the Sony Ericsson Hazel and Elm are made with a high proportion of recycled plastics, are free from hazardous chemicals and come with a low-power consumption charger. There is an electronic manual in the phone itself, plus a "Walk Mate eco application" and "Green calculator". The handsets are shipped in minimal packaging in order to reduce waste.

We have always said that one of the best ways to minimise the impact that your mobile phone habit has on the environment is to pick a really good phone and keep it for longer, and then recycle it when you are done. Some "environmentally friendly" phones in the past have been of such a low specification that they have been almost obsolete before they ship. With the Hazel and Elm phones, Sony Ericsson have made sure that the devices have a decent enough specification so that they should still be useful in two to three years time.

The Sony Ericsson Hazel is a slider phone with a 2.6" QVGA display, the Elm is a lightweight monoblock device with a smaller 2.2" QVGA screen. Almost all the other technical specifications are identical between the two phones - both the Elm and Hazel have a 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus, flash and geo-tagging, they include a GPS receiver with Google Maps and a trial version of the Wisepilot turn-by-turn navigation application, they have 3.5G support plus WiFi, microSD expandable memory, a multimedia player and an FM radio.

 Sony Ericsson Hazel From the front, both the Elm and Hazel have a very standard layout, but one novel and elegant feature is the way that the back of the phone is curved to fit into the palm of the user's hand, something that is particularly noticeable on the Elm. This is a very simple piece of industrial design, but it certainly makes these two handsets more noticeable and we suspect that we will see it on other phones in the future too.

Sony Ericsson handsets tend to come with a slew of multimedia and personal information management tools, and the Elm and Hazel are no exception. Of course, there's a web browser, email client and RSS reader and these two phones with synchronize with Microsoft Exchange too.

At just 90 grams in weight and 110 x 45 x 14mm in size, the Elm is pretty lightweight for a 3.5G phone like this, the Hazel is a fair bit chunkier at 120 grams and 102 x 50 x 60mm.. but then it does have a much bigger screen. For both handsets, talktime on 3G is quoted as about 4 hours with a maximum of around 18 days standby time.

The Elm will be available from Q1 2010 in Metal Black and Pearly Rose colours, but for some reason you will have to wait for the nearly identical Hazel until Q2 2010, and that will come in Superior Black and Passionate Red schemes. There's no guidance on price, but our best guess is that these will come in the €250-€300 price range SIM free when they hit retail outlets.

Critics of Sony Ericsson (and there are many) might argue that the best thing that the company can do to help the environment is to make phones that work properly in the first place, so that they don't have to be replaced under warranty when they go wrong. If Sony Ericsson can't get its quality control up to scratch, then the whole GreenHeart project is really rather pointless.

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