Palm Pre smartphone
The next best thing to an iPhone?
Review 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's Pre smartphone touting its new WebOS
The iPhone has been top of the smartphone pile since it was released and, with every new version, its software, hardware and developer support has been greatly improved. Even now, just shy of its third birthday, other smartphone manufacturers still appear unable to catch up with it.
HTC has been hampered by Android’s slow start and Windows Mobile’s various weaknesses, while other manufacturers’ implementations of touchscreens, such as LG with its S-Class OS, look derivative and clunky by comparison. Can Palm, with its impressive track record as a smartphone maker and vaunted WebOS platform, do any better?
The Pre's hardware is fairly standard – we've all seen touchscreens before, after all. The most interesting thing about the phone – and what Palm is pinning its hopes on – is the software it runs, and WebOS deservingly joins the top of the mobile phone operating system pile along with Apple. It has more polish than Android, and while it isn't as smooth as the iPhone, it arguably does more.
First up is Palm’s ‘Synergy’ system. It’s designed to take the pain out of setting up your phone and managing your contacts. Rather offering platform specific sync applications, you just simply pop in a Gmail email address when you first start it up and it will pull in your calendar and contacts information as well.
Touchscreen and keyboard combo
Of course, this assumes you’ve all this set up on Gmail already. Likewise, give it your Facebook details and it will look up your friends and put them into its contacts database as well. Third party apps are available for sync’ing and media can be dragged and dropped to the Pre’s storage when plugged in to a computer.
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...
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.
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.