back to article Palm Pre smartphone

The most hyped phone of the year, the Palm Pre, has arrived and now you can actually buy one. The 3.1in touchscreen combined with a physical keyboard are welcome features, but it’s the software that might change the face of the smartphone market and challenge the Apple iPhone. Palm Pré Palm's Pre smartphone touting its new …


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  1. Rob


    So your saying it's not as good as an iPhone (which is fair enough, not even close to that league IMO).

    But in the same breath your saying it's not as good as a windows phone, which to be fair is OS comparison and not a phone comparison. After reading the review I couldn't help think this is no where near as good as my Touch Pro2 (a windows HTC phone) which has pretty much the same functionality including the Facebook tie in to contacts and by he sounds of it a better keyboard and a nicer looking design.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Let the fanboi wars commence

    Shame, so near but so far. And any redeeming features of the hardware and software are completely spoilt by the hopelessness of O2's poor network.

    iPhone on Vodafone next year is looking like an all-round winner, although the 1Ghz snapdragon-based Android devices are also looking incredibly appealing...

  3. Brett
    Thumb Down

    @ Rob - yes

    I've just been to an O2 store to have a look. And I guess the TP2 is far better. Shame really as I was looking forward to this. The keyboard isn't too bad, but much easier to use on the TP2

  4. Mike Hartley

    YATA!!! What about the Hero then?

    Sorry but I've got to say that review totally misses out on it's sweeping comparisons with HTC.

    The Hero is an absolutely superb device, having just got one a week ago, and has even my Apple lovin' friend drooling at the features and the design (yes - even the Jimmy Hill chin has won approval from mates)

    The latest update from HTC have made it a fast and smooth device and it shouldn't be too long until Android 1.6 is available for it.

    The on-screen keyboard is a delight, as is the predictive text. Screen resolution is great and the HTC bolt-ons really do add value to it.

    C'mon Reg you can do better than this!

  5. Lutin

    Great review

    Thanks for the review. I so wanted the Pre to be good and for it to kick the iphone's a$$, but I can't argue with your conclusions.

    Not only is no other phone company beating iphone's current offering, they aren't even beating what the iphone brought to the table two and a half years ago (in terms of hardware, and to a lesser extent, software).

    This is especially galling for me as I won't (on religious grounds), ever buy an apple product.

    If they want to compete and have an inferior device, for god sake at least make it cheaper than the iphone!

  6. censored

    HTC Hero??

    Surely the Hero is in the running too...?

  7. TeeCee Gold badge

    Bit of a shame really.

    "WebOS is a work of genius that should appear on as many phones as possible, as soon as possible"

    Presumably though, if this thing's not the Holy Grail (and you seem to think it isn't) sales will end up being disappointing after the initial hype wears off, Palm will go and WebOS will die.

    Oh and "mail/contacts/schedule sync = gmail"? I really need HTML to put "FAIL" into a large enough font to make sense for that one. Pinning your entire sync strategy on tapping into a service operated by one of your most serious competitors (Google = Android) has got to be one of the daftest ideas ever. The only way it could be more silly would be if they relied on being able to tap into a service from a major competitor for music, films and such........oh.....wait a sec.......

  8. Jim Coleman


    Bearing in mind it does nothing that Windows Mobile 6.5 doesn't do (Facebook contacts integration has been around for months on HTCs) and that WinMob has a vastly greater software catalogue, I'm unable to think of a reason to buy this phone. I think I'll just wait for WinMo 7 next year. If that's rubbish, I'll probably go Android - that should be solid by then. I agree iPhone's lack of multitasking is a deal-breaker, as is the unavailability of it UNLOCKED and UNBRANDED (a personal requirement of mine).

    I really don't think this phone is going to save Palm. It's going to be WinMo, Android, iPhone and Blackberry from now on. (Nokia just don't have a clue).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    HTC Hero

    Had a play with a US model Pre a few weeks ago and it didn't make me regret getting an HTC Hero one little bit. Yes the Pre's OS responds faster but that's its only advantage over the Hero's Android OS. No memory expansion (I have a 16GB card in my Hero), no virtual keyboard and it felt a bit cheap. The web browsing experience wasn't a patch on the Hero's either - the latest Android phones are the only ones that can match the iPhone for web browsing imo. Not a bad phone, but I would not recommend it to anyone over the iPhone or the Hero, even if it was cheaper than the latter, which it ain't.

  10. STurtle

    Review misses most important point!

    The review misses to examine the most important point:

    How well to legacy PalmOS applications run?

    How easy is it to transfer the old contact and calendar database form an old Palm device?


    Can I swap my old Treo650 easily for a Pré, and continue productive use right away, slowly adapting to new applications and uses as I go, or will I be grounded for a week or two, being thrown into completely unfamiliar surroundings?

    There are smartphones galore, and the iphone is posh enough, but die-hard palm users, of which there might still be a few around besides myself, don't want to be bothered with too much change at once! Change and learning is painful. A gradual update possibility, which lets me continue to use all my old applications (such as my trusted Password-Safe, which is crucial to me), is what is truly important about the Plam Pré - which is, after all, Palm's new child, and the only hope for old PalmOS users!

  11. David Steele
    Thumb Up

    It's not all that bad...

    I’ve been impressed with how the Pré works; it’s far more polished than any Android handset I’ve spent any time with. Android may catch up with 1.6, may do. It’s taken Android a year to get to this point, the Pré was released in the USA four months ago. I expect great things from both operating systems.

    Keyboard wise, meh; I don’t find any small keyboard easy to use, but I’d rather than one than a touch-keyboard. That’s personal preference. I’m not all together sold on the slider design though. The Pré’s form factor isn’t what I want – the Pixi solves that issue.

    Touchstone, however, is just plain cool.

    The Pré’s browser is arguably superior to the iPhone, but both are head and shoulders over anything else out there (I have not played with the Nokia N900 yet). Android’s browser is dog slow for one, presumable because of Flash support (not available on the Pré just yet).

    The Pré’s biggest issue appears to be the cost of it, which is more likely O2 rather than Palm. It’s a first generation (operating system and hardware) device that is as expensive as the third generation iPhone.

    And as for the O2 factor... bad decision to do an exclusive in my opinion; Palm have always had problems breaking into the European market and every O2 sales assistant I have seen is carrying an iPhone. Combine that with high costs (at the moment) and I don’t see the product working.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blackberry Tour

    Not sure you folks across the pond have these yet, but after having had a Blackberry Tour for two months, I'm absolutely hooked. It's multiband (so while it does CDMA, it will also do GSM for the UK/Europe folks), and the only gripe one might have is lack of WiFi, which isn't a big deal when one is required to have a data plan. Built in GPS, full QWERTY, excellent web browsing, realtime e-mail via IMAP, tons of apps, and rock-solid stable. Hands down the best smartphone I've ever had.

    I'm really hoping Palm continues to have success with WebOS, I think it's the best thing they've done in years. Looks like their phone hardware could use some work in the ergonomics dept. from everything I've heard, though.

  13. Name 1

    Palm 755p can multitask...

    I've always been able to listen to streaming music via pTunes and switch to browse or Google Maps while the music is streaming.

    Nothing new here! Move along!

  14. Name 1


    And I have a Micro SD slot...

  15. Anonymous Coward

    WebOS vs MacOS Mobile vs Android

    You are saying here that the more devices that promote the use of WebOS would be better than improving already existing software support for mobile devices?

    Please, Palm are as much into proprietary code as Microsoft are. Android is hardly mentioned in the review and I think it comes down to ignorance and lack of exposure on the reviewers part.

    Saying that the iPhone is the only real competitor is demeaning considering the awful hardware review you gave of the phone. Better designed than the HTC Android equivalent? Please, just look at it, you say the keybnaord is awful, bad layout, bad design form and still that's better than HTC's efforts?

    I hear an ex-Palm fanboy screaming in this article, justifying his own ends for switching to an iPhone, nothing more. Maybe if it were given a proper review and not just languished with the same hype that Palm's own marketing department have heaped on it I might consider believing its conclusions.

  16. cmaurand

    Its too small

    The qwerty keyboard is too narrow for my fat thumbs and the screen is so small you'll find yourself zooming in and out all the time. sometimes actually "touching" a link in a list of links is a crapshoot as to whether you get the one you want or not.

  17. Joe Ragosta


    "This is especially galling for me as I won't (on religious grounds), ever buy an apple product."

    It's funny that the anit-Apple crowd accuses Apple of being a cult and Mac users to be mindless fanatics -- yet it is the anti-Apple crowd who seems to base their diatribes on irrational concepts.

  18. david bates

    Been waiting for this...

    and I went to the O2 shop for a play. Im waiting no longer.

    Keyboard is way too small to be usable for me, I don't like the trackball for some reason and the whole thing seemed a bit sluggish....maybe thats just how its meant to be though.

    Oh and its 4 months late. Things have moved on...

  19. Jerome 0

    Why the iPhone killer?

    "an obvious decision to make: this or the iPhone. No other touchscreen smartphone is even in the running"

    Why's that then? It seems to be a commonly expressed opinion. It's almost like there was a secret meeting to decide that the Pre was the iPhone killer, and no other phone would be invested with this title, lest the phone-buying public was too confused.

    What about the HTC Touch HD, or the Hero? The Samsung Omnia HD? The Nokia N97? None of these are perfect by any means, but they all have some advantages over the iPhone, and plenty of advantages over the Pre. What makes the Pre so special?

  20. david bates

    and I should have said....


    I still find that faster than texting, or poking about at a keyboard desgined for elves with my thumbs.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    O2 exclusive - limited market

    This phone's being sold as an O2 "exclusive" here in the UK.... which pretty much kills it dead. Anyone who's happy with O2 (officially the worst of the 5 UK networks for 3G coverage) is hightly likly to get the iPhone.

    It's a shame, if this was available on all networks and SIM free it would sweep up the market for those not happy with the Apple brand. But with the iPhone on Vodafone/Orange and the Palm not an option I think it's pretty much dead in the water here while the exclusive deal lasts.

    I'd really like to know how/why these exclusive deals come about. The money a company like O2 pays must be enough to compensate the manufacturer for lost sales.. While I can't believe it's legal, I understand the business logic for a phone like the iPhone. However in the Palm's case, unless they're going to market it as a low end cheap contract/free phone, it makes no sense at all!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    concerning multitasking

    I know that there are more possible uses for multitasking, but.....

    The iPhone CAN multitask (under certain circumstances). The event sited in the review of not being able to listen to spotify while browsing the web, is a poor example.

    Spotify is a subscription based service, that doesn't play your music and is not part of the core iPhone OS or something all iPhone users have access to, however the iPod app (comes as standard on all iPhones, and iPod touches), will happily sit in the background playing your music or podcasts, while you do various other tasks.

    I know this was a review of the Pre, and not the iPhone, I just wanted to throw in my 2c

  23. captain veg Silver badge

    A sad day

    Been waiting a while for a successor to my Centro. You've just killed the Pre as a candidate -- no memory expansion. I've got a 16GB card filled with music in the Centro's microSD slot, and even that's not big enough.

    Oh, and the Centro can take movies.


  24. Lutin

    @ Simon D

    @Simon D

    "Saying that the iPhone is the only real competitor is demeaning"

    Where does the review say this?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Something of a metoo product- even down to trying to ponce on other peoples' software.

  26. Rob Dobs

    STurtle - I agree

    You hit the key point.

    How well does it run Palm Os apps.

    There is a phone out there already........

    It works with facebook, google maps, and other web pages. It has video playback and recording capabilities. You can also listen to music at the same time as doing other functions. It has SD expandable memory, it can take decent pictures, oh and it can cut and paste. Even better there are thousands of GOOD and USEFUL applications for it for available for FREE. Included in these are multiple keyring applications that store your passwords in 1024 bit key encryption using known respected protocols. Even better you can cut and paste passwords and info form the secure programs to the memo pad/ internet and other locations. It will send and answer email, and it can open and edit Office documents like word, excel and powerpoint.

    Even better this phone is small enough to fit in a small shirt pocket, and costs less $100 even without a contract!!! Oh and ANY program you have you can share with other uses with a simple tap. It also has a great keyboard that is easy to type on, and a on screen keyboard as well.

    So what great amazing phone is this? PALM CENTRO!!!!

    And yes it is made by PALM, and PALM One.

    What most people dont realize is PALM split into a two companies Palm for hardware, and Palm One for the OS. As far as the PRE goes, this is PALM hardware running a new OS (WEBOS) it does not run the palm platform. After the Centro, the Palm One OS is pretty much dead and gone, (unless someone like google buys it and revives it.)

    There are still MANY palm holdouts out there, and NO we are not luddites, the main reason you can't get Palm users to switch, is their phone are VERY easy to use and they work great. The Centro has opened up all kinds of great usefulness for this aging OS.

    Here is the rub:

    The screen is smaller than Pre or Iphwn

    There is no WiFi (though I can't say I've ever really missed it or needed it)

    No dedicated GPS circuit (though cellular location in google maps is VERY accurate)

    It cracks me up to hear a NEW ad from Apple pushing that their phone can now take video, or can now cut and paste, or now uses office apps etc. Centro and other Palms have been offering all these functions FOR YEARS!!!

    So here is what I want from a phone (and I'm going to wait and hold my breath until someone up and makes it for me!!):

    * Palm Pre like phone with a REAL slide out keyboard. (maybe without the sharp edge)

    * A screen that covers the majority of the phone's face (like Ipwn)

    * Support for Palm OS native programs

    * Reliable way to import all data, and personal settings from current Palm device

    * HotSyncing by pushing a simple button, with the option to make multiple different backup versions

    * SIP/VoIP (wifi options)

    Until then neither the Iphone or Pre is a better phone than my Centro, as its way cheaper, very easy to use and does a lot more. Sure each phone has some features the Centro doesn;t, but none of them are ones I can't live without, and neither of them has all the features that I currently have.

    I will not go backwards, why do all these phones seem to suck so bad and cost soo much.

    (Someone mentioned the Pre doesn't do video, but someone also mentioned there was no memory expansion, and that I know is incorrect. )

    So come on reg, how about a migration article at least from a Treo/Centro to the Palm Pre, or is the naked emperor that we are not supposed be talking about?

    And to the Windows users - FAIL!!! I do not want my contacts and calls that easy to steal. I also expect to not reboot my phone - EVER. The only time I have EVER needed to reboot my centro was after loading and running a unsupported third party OLD palm application, and even then I just had to power cycle. To accept using a phone that may crash in the middle of using it is UNACCEPTABLE!!

  27. Lutin

    @Joe Ragosta

    @Joe Ragosta

    ""This is especially galling for me as I won't (on religious grounds), ever buy an apple product."

    It's funny that the anit-Apple crowd accuses Apple of being a cult and Mac users to be mindless fanatics -- yet it is the anti-Apple crowd who seems to base their diatribes on irrational concepts"

    Naughty boy. I have many reasons for not buying certain apple products and none of them are irrational.

  28. Anonymous Bastard


    "Not only is no other phone company beating iphone's current offering, they aren't even beating what the iphone brought to the table two and a half years ago (in terms of hardware, and to a lesser extent, software)."

    You mean like it's multi-tasking and high resolution camera with ability to shoot video & send MMS? (Sarcasm)

    I had a WinMob device like that a year before iPhone first launched and it was only £10 on a contract. I was gutted the month after I bought it they dropped the £10 charge! Still, I was laughing when those around me started paying hundreds for a lesser phone just because of it's shiny backplate... But I digress.

  29. regviewer

    Palm Pre killed iPhone 1G, 2G, 3G

    Let's be honest, hardware wise... Palm Pre's 600 Mhz chip is far superior than the iPhone's 1G, 2G, and 3G. Meanwhile, iPhone 3Gs is the only contender to the Palm Pre. But where the iPhone loses is that it has no removable battery, can't fit in pockets well, and has no real keyboard.

    On the other hand, the Palm Pre has a removable battery so you can swap higher capacity batteries or spare batteries as both the Palm Pre and iPhone are power hungry devices. Apparently, the iPhone doesn't fit well in pockets unless you're very tall, too much of it still sticks out uncomfortably. While the iPhone only as a screen keyboard, the Palm Pre has BOTH, a real keyboard a screen keyboard; best of both worlds. Soon more Palm Pre's will also have a microSD slot, what's next?

    Even Apple who makes the iPhone admits that it cannot multitask 3rd party applications. And that's the real point people, consumers don't want to just multitask core phone apps, they want to multitask ALL apps. And the Palm Pre does just that, multiple browsers, multiple games, multiple media players, google maps, youtube, etc., etc.. Just as Single Tasking operating systems on computers are now obsolete by Multi Tasking operating systems, iPhone's OS IS obsolete.

    Only 3rd party developers give the iPhone leverage while the only improvements on the iPhone itself are old functionality such as MMS and Copy/Paste. But in the long run, more and more 3rd party developers are expanding and building their apps for the Android and webOS (Palm Pre) operating system. So eventually, iPhone will have nothing left to hangon except for the local FM radio station app.

    You can't change the fact that more people in the UK prefer the Palm Pre over the iPhone. The Palm Pre chosen as top 10 innovative devices for 2009 awarded by Popular Mechanics doesn't help the iPhone either.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Bastard

    And we have a winner! Yet another feature monkey. "Not only is no other phone company beating iphone's current offering, they aren't even beating what the iphone brought to the table two and a half years ago (in terms of hardware, and to a lesser extent, software)." I'll repeat the bit in brackets;

    "(in terms of hardware, and to a lesser extent, software)".

    To labour the point, relevant parts in caps;

    "(in terms of HARDWARE, and to a lesser extent, SOFTWARE)"


    Multitasking. Fuck off. You cannot multitask on a fucking phone. What you mean is background apps and tasks. To be honest, other than music players, web browsers and email clients, what do you need to run synchronously a phone? Are you compiling software? Running an RDBMS? The iPhone handle background tasks FAR more elegantly than the Windows Mobile solution. Try actually using one and you'll find out. MMS I believe was left out on purpose. The only people that I know of using MMS regularly are the "Well my Windows Mobile/Nokia does…) crowd that try and belittle the iPhone. I'd not used it before owning an iPhone, and sure as hell didn't miss it after buying it! You see, the iPhone has a technology called "electronic mail". Marvellous really. Look it up with the "inter-net" also available on the iPhone. I get that you were trying to be sarcastic, failed though. Having owned WinMo devices (note the plural) I can safely say that next to the iPhone, they are shit, not to mention cheaply made. Still, you get what you pay for...

  31. Glen 1
    IT Angle

    i may be a luddite...

    I got an n95 8gb free on contract a few years ago, the supposed successors are waaaay more expensive, and don't do *that* much more than my n95 does.

    iplayer? check.

    gps? check.

    email? check.

    3g? check (this would have been obvious before the 1st gen iphone)

    facebook/google maps/yawn? check.

    what is it about these phones that warrants the extortionate price tag?

    I dropped to sim only when my contract was up due to the lack of improvement.

    Can anyone name a phone that's better than the n95 and is free on £35 a month contract?

    I would really like to know.

  32. shane fitzgerald


    I'll save my money for the N900 in a few weeks. The hardware of N series with a decent CPU, GPU and OS to replace the aging symbian....

  33. Giles Jones Gold badge


    I want WebOS to succeed as it looks a damn sight better than anything else out there. But why can't Palm get some decent hardware?

    You really need an amazing piece of hardware to launch a new platform, good software isn't enough. No point adding a hardware keyboard that sucks.

    Please Palm, licence the OS.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    my htc hero was...

    £50 and £20pm, and is smooth, easy to use with no razor sharp edges.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Oh God Not This Again

    First, Anonymous Coward (22:10)

    "MMS I believe was left out on purpose. The only people that I know of using MMS regularly are the "Well my Windows Mobile/Nokia does…) crowd that try and belittle the iPhone. I'd not used it before owning an iPhone, and sure as hell didn't miss it after buying it! You see, the iPhone has a technology called "electronic mail". Marvellous really."

    Yes, my last few phones (multiple vendors & platforms) have had it too. They've also had MMS. Which is great when I need to send a pic to the contractor out on site somewhere whose phone choice I can't dictate, then I could use whichever method is best suited to convey the information. Now that's marvellous. Tell me, before your phone got MMS how would you have done that? Drive several hundred miles with a sketch? Carrier pigeon perhaps?

    Second, Mr. Joe Ragosta:

    "It's funny that the anit-Apple crowd accuses Apple of being a cult and Mac users to be mindless fanatics -- yet it is the anti-Apple crowd who seems to base their diatribes on irrational concepts."

    No mate, look at the comments and you'll find it's all sides on this one. Why? No idea, reminds me of chimps throwing shit to be honest.


  36. Anonymous Bastard

    Light the blue touch paper and retire to a safe distance

    I normally never return to a flame but I forgot something important. Copy & paste. WTF? How can a 'smart' phone neglect that essential feature for so long?

    Apple did something genius with the iPhone but it was in neither the hardware nor software, it was in marketing. It's almost a miracle they got millions of feature phone users to leave their smaller, lighter, prettier, cheaper and above all higher quality devices to be locked into long-term contracts for shorter battery life, crippled functionality, draconian app vetting and dropped calls. They somehow made hefting a bland slab of non-battery-changeable plastic look cool. And simultaneously made the ipod dock standard in cars and homes! All that without so much as a 3.5mm audio jack.

    On a side note I do believe Apple have got it right with the 3GS. Finally it's worth is approaching it's monetary value but what a shame, as the plebeians have accepted it en masse it's very popularity causes the iPhone to become uncool.

  37. Richard 20


    It is interesting that the author is such a fan of the Synergy system. The Pre looks a great product and perhaps a genuine competitor to the iPhone. However, rather than a selling-point I find Synergy to be a genuine deal-breaker. Can I be the only phone user who actually wants to compartmentalise their contacts? I simply don't want my Facebook 'friends', some of whom are, frankly, not true friends to be rolled into my contacts list. The same goes, to some extent, for IM, Skype etc.

    I am impressed by the multitasking which doesn't appear to drain the battery excessively, but I am of the belief that Apple may include this in future iPhones which will sport faster processors and improved battery technology.

    Clearly there are issues with hardware design and build quality, but these bugs will be ironed-out in due course.

    For now I think I'll stick with my iPhone.

  38. Neur0mancer


    I had a play with a Pre in an O2 shop at the weekend. I would really like one, but it did feel a bit cheap and plasticky.

  39. Tom Chiverton 1

    obvious decision ?

    The obvious decision isn't to get this or an iPhone, it's to wait a few more weeks till El Reg. review the Nokia N900...

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