When it comes to helping save Mother Earth, Sony Ericsson puts rival mobile manufacturers to shame. Its ever-growing crop of enviro-friendly GreenHeart handsets have been the only real option for the serious eco-conscious gadgeteer and its latest effort, the Cedar, is an ultra-affordable alternative to the mid range Sony Ericsson Elm candybar, runner-up in T3’s 2010 Green Gadget of the Year awards category.
Like the Elm, the Cedar is a very compact handset and at 84 grams incredibly lightweight. But it’s also great to handle with a gentle bowed back and a tactile matt paint finish. Granted, build quality is overly plasticky but that’s to be expected for an entry-level handset.
The Cedar’s eco-creds follow previous Sony Ericsson GreenHeart handsets, giving it a unique edge over similar-priced mobiles. This means the chassis is forged from recycled plastics, the casing is coated with waterborne paints and the packaging greatly reduced in size. It also comes with a low power consumption charger and an e-manual on the handset to save on paper.
Sony Ericsson Cedar: Social networking
Of course, the Cedar is no smartphone but its widget manager lets you quickly access tailored Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Notes and World Clock apps from the standby screen. The apps offer a decent level of functionality - in case of Facebook letting you post ‘what’s on your mind?’ and view the 15 most recent messages without leaving the homescreen – while a click through will take you to a more comprehensive version of the app.
These social networking apps aren’t really geared for heavy users but perfect for just skimming activity at a glance. But if you do find yourself regularly posting missives then the angled keypad is thumb-friendly with the buttons delivering a soft but responsive action.
Unfortunately, the fiddly onboard NetFront browser doesn’t lend itself to an intuitive web surfing experience, so we recommend downloading the free Opera Mini 4 straightaway. This streamlined browser is built for surfing on a small 2.2-inch low-res display like the Cedar’s, compressing full web pages for quick loading and proving incredibly efficient and nippy over both an HSDPA and 3G connection. Sadly there’s no WiFi like the Elm
Sony Ericsson Cedar: Multimedia
The fixed focus two-megapixel shutterbug is a point and shoot affair, so don’t expect to be printing your camera phone snaps. But photos are perfectly acceptable for Facebook and Twitter and you can instantly upload your pictures straight from the camera menu to your social networking sites. Video shoots in VGA-quality at 30fps and is similarly feeble, blighted with judder and blur.
One criticism of the Elm was its lack of integrated 3.5mm headphone jack so we’re pleased, but a little surprised, to see one fitted on the lower cost Cedar. It’s certainly a boon and a decent pair of earbuds will boost the music player’s audio performance but with no earphones supplied you will need to fork out for your own. The music player is hugely listenable for the commute but not suited to prolonged sessions.
Similarly with no bundled USB cable, transferring your digital tunes from your PC involves a microSD card via a SD card reader. Again, and unsurprising considering the phone’s £60 prepay price tag, you will need to invest in a memory card up to 16GB but then it’s just a case of dragging and dropping your music files.
Battery life is impressive, cursory glances at your social networking feeds, liberal web browsing and average call and text usage means you’ll be topping up the juice every two days.
The Cedar is another tidy addition to the GreenHeart range and will suit those not just looking for a traditional user-friendly 3G handset at an affordable price - it can be picked-up for £80 SIM-free, around £60 pay-as-you-go and free on a £8.50 a month Virgin Mobile – but trying to reduce their carbon footprint.
Sony Ericsson Cedar release date: Out now
Sony Ericsson Cedar price: From £79 sim free, find out more from Sony Ericsson