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Palm Pré

Palm Pre smartphone

The next best thing to an iPhone?

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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 Pré

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.

Palm Pré

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.

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