iPhone v Pre - the celebrity smartphone deathmatch
Every feature unearthed, every quirk revealed
Review Two top-of-the-line smartphones were released in June: the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3GS. If you're eyeing them, you'll have to choose one or the other - no one in their right mind owns more than one smartphone. So which one is worthy of your pocket or purse?
To answer this question - and since it can be easily argued that I'm not in my right mind - I got one of each. For the past couple of weeks, I've been bouncing between them, hammering on their hardware, slapping about their apps, and generally using them as their designers intended: as phone-call handlers, email senders, message messagers, webpage viewers, pocket-sized entertainment centers, and the like.
And now I'm ready to tell you which one you should buy.
But first a bit of business to ward off enraged fans of the BlackBerry Storm, HTC Magic, Nokia N97, Samsung Omnia, LG Viewty, and others - or, for that matter, even connoisseurs of a finely aged Motorola MicroTAC. Yes, there are other fine phones in the world, but this article isn't about them. This is a point-by-point smackdown: the Palm Pre versus the iPhone 3GS.
Some features of the two phones are so similar that it's hard to prefer one over the other. In other particulars, one phone clearly holds an advantage. And other characteristics can't be graded. They're simply a matter of taste. A black Palm Pre isn't inherently better than a white iPhone 3GS, for example.
So let's start from the outside of the two devices and work our way into their core-OS souls, layer by layer by layer.
Size and weight: No surprises here if you've seen photos of the two phones: the Pre is a bar of soap, the iPhone is its soapdish.
Physically, their stats are as follows:
- Width: 2.3 inches (59.5mm)
- Length: 3.9 inches (100.5mm)
- Thickness: 0.67 inches (16.95mm)
- Width: 2.4 inches (62.1 mm)
- Length: 4.5 inches (115.5 mm)
- Thickness: 0.48 inch (12.3 mm)
Despite their size differences, they weigh exactly the same: just under four 4.8 ounces (135 grams).
Some have complained that the Pre is too thick to be comfortably pocketable. Comments like that merely show that the complainer's pants are too tight. Both phones fit well into a pocket, and both fit comfortably in your hand.
Size and weight advantage: A tie
Fit and finish: No contest. The Pre's plastic body is imperfectly molded, its slide-out keyboard tray is a mite wobbly even when closed and has a fiendishly sharp bottom edge (more on that keyboard in a moment), and its pop-off-with-your-fingernail micro-USB port cover is a pain to remove and just begging to be torn off. The Pre feels cheap and breakable.
The iPhone 3GS, on the other hand, is built like a brick with every contour perfectly molded and fitted. It feels expensive and solid.
Fit and finish advantage: iPhone 3GS
The Pre's keyboard slides out to frustrate your typing and threaten your fingers with its sharped-edged tray
Keyboard: When the iPhone was first released, reviewers - and many users - howled about its screen-based keyboard. And for good reason: They were comparing it with the quality physical keyboards of RIM's BlackBerries.
The Pre is not a Blackberry. Its tiny keys are recessed beneath interfering ridges above and below. They give little feedback and are hampered - as are most physical keyboards - by needing a command key to access symbols and numbers, a task that the iPhone handles by changing the entire keyboard when, for example, you want to type a series of numbers.
I hate the Pre's keyboard - but I'm the first to admit that I'm not the most delicate of men, fingertip-wise. I brutalized them by playing bass guitar for many years and by spending my baseball days behind the plate as a catcher. My fingers are as insensitive as keilbasa.
So I asked an array of friends, family, and colleagues to try out the Pre's keyboard. Some were BlackBerry users, some were iPhone users, some used neither. Not a single one of them liked the Pre's keyboard. In fact, one of my nimble-fingered testers expressed strong disliked for her iPhone's keyboard - but thought the Pre's was worse.
Also, the Pre's keyboard is far enough away from what you're typing that it's hard to keep checking your mistakes - and, I guarantee you, you'll make them. When you do, don't expect the Pre to help - its predictive spelling is laughably rudimentary - it'll change "teh" to "the," but that's pretty close to it.
Next page: More keyboard contempt
In less than a year no one will remember what a Pre is!
The iPhone however will be the dominant mobile computing platform for years to come.
What a stupid article.
Another poor man's iPhone...yawn
I think this article just makes me glad I've been using an iphone all the way through from the first one to the 3GS. Basides the multi-tasking, there's nothing the pre offers which would make me drop the iphone, and the person reviewing clearly doesn't use an iPhone daily (or else he doesn't know the OS very well). The pre looks fugly too, they need to make it look prettier.
I find it amusing how people are still going on about Android dominating the industry. It hasn't and it most likely won't. The time for it to dominate is past, public opinion is apathetic and it was a missed opportunity for Google. The HTC rubbish phones it was introduced in were tantamount to a poor man's iPhone, and apart from a couple of nice innovations such as multi-tasking, the Pre falls into that same category. Who will buy a product that looks and feels cheap and confusing outside of the IT industry?
Re apps, the exponential growth in apps, s because of the exponential growth of iPhone ownership. The installed units needs to be there to justify people developing for a platform. Seeing as how Pre piggy backs on the achievements of Apple (iTunes) rather than have its own infrastructure, I can't really see it having a viable app store, at least when compared to iTunes and at best there'll be something comparable to The google one or the blackberry one i.e. a decent facebook app and that's about it.
Blah Blah blah
iPhone this.. iPhone that.... It seems that the iPhone fan boys just get their shorts all in a bunch whenever anyone doesn't just accept the iPhone as the secret of the universe, by default. The simple fact is that anyone who doesn't want AT&T as their vendor or anyone who wants features the iPhone doesn't support, will not get an iPhone. The rest who have more money than sense will buy an iPhone. I recently talked to an AT&T store employee about why she switched from the iPhone to a Blackberry. Quite simply because the iPhones short comings were things she simply couldn't get past. Not everyone will just because fruit flavored fanboys love their fruit flavored kit. Some aren't going to drink the coolaid and have an Apple love fest with you. Get over it. It's just a phone. Not the second coming of Christ.
Capacitive screens and overheating
If you're looking for a smartphone with a resistive screen, you're I supect you're going to be SOL, pretty much all the new ones are going capacitive these days. I think there are some WinMo ones that are still going resistive, but as a concept it seems to be dying.
Regarding the heat issues, Several of my colleagues have 3Gs's (I'm still stuck on my "ancient" 2G) , and are reporting no heat problems whatsoever. I can't help but think that this is either being blown out of all proportion, or that the've had a bad batch of batteries somewhere. DOes anyone have any hard numbers for how many people are reporting this?
You missed an important category
You missed the "Fire hazard" category.
As there have been reports of iPhone 3GS becoming too hot to hold and getting so hot they actually glow with the heat I think it's safe to say the Pre wins this one, and frankly it's such an important category in general it's enough to swing a win to the Pre overall.
What use is a phone if it risks setting on fire as the iPhone 3GS does?