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Palm Pre reviews: closest rival to iPhone

updated 09:15 am EDT, Thu June 4, 2009

Palm Pre Review Roundup

Reviews have surfaced today for the Palm Pre that suggest the device is the closest rival to the iPhone but has drawbacks that may limit its scope. The New York Times' David Pogue describes it as the "iPhone remixed" and an "elegant, joyous" device. He praises webOS as very smooth and particularly highlights app multitasking, which isn't possible with iPhones. He also singles out Synergy, which merges offline and online contacts, as well as the native iTunes sync, as strong points.

However, Pogue has significant concerns about the hardware itself. While the Pre is comfortable to hold, the writer notes that the keyboard is "tiny," if still easier to type on than an iPhone's glass touchscreen. He also compliments the ability to swap the battery but says it's virtually necessary for the phone, which can run out of energy as early as mid-afternoon. Palm responds to this by claiming that his phone was unusual, a claim which has been supported by some reviews.

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal echoes some of the statements and says the Pre is "potentially the strongest rival" to the iPhone and believes the interface "matches or exceeds" the iPhone's, while its design is "beautiful." He nonetheless warns that the Palm App Catalog is a weak point and not only has roughly a dozen apps on launch but is in a beta state that, at one time, wiped out the Pre's stored data; one of Palm's advantages, Internet-based backups, was necessary to restore the phone.

He adds that a new iPhone next week is likely to erode some of Palm's current advantages, including software features like MMS and copy-paste text but also the 8GB of built-in storage.

Ed Baig of USA Today takes a similar approach and says the Pre "stacks up well" against the iPhone, in some cases offering better features and a very ergonomic design. Sprint's smartphone plans are also less expensive in practice than AT&T's iPhone plans, he adds. For him, though, webOS was at times buggy or slow to respond. The App Catalog's small size was again an issue as well.

These and other reviews paint a cautiously optimistic picture for Palm, which is poised to depend almost exclusively on the Pre and future webOS phones for the future of its company. Both Palm and Sprint are struggling financially and are looking for a "halo" device to return attention to brands that have fared poorly with predominantly PalmOS and Windows Mobile devices at the high end. The Pre goes on sale June 6th for $199, either after a rebate at Sprint or with an immediate discount at Best Buy and Radio Shack stores.

by MacNN Staff



  1. c4rlob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    talk smack now

    What about all that smack Palm was talking before the iPhone launched about their looong legacy and expertise with touchscreen smartphones, so much so that they doubted Apple could do anything as revolutionary as the iPhone turned out to be? Huh?

    After all that - you'd think 2 years of hindsight and watching the iPhone's progress would lead to a Pre that blows away the iPhone AND all the touchscreen competition in EVERY way. And the best they could come up with are multiple screens and contact sources?? On a thick plastic phone with a tiny keyboard and screen that relies on Apple's own iTunes software for media syncing?

    I was hoping Palm would have some ace up their sleeve the week before the launch, but apparently not - the Pre seems to be just another also-ran with a few tweaks.

  1. afaby

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Me too...

    The device that dethrones the iPhone will not be a "me too" device, but will have to be something just as revolutionary as the iPhone that will push the industry forward. Fortunately for Apple, none of the other cell phone companies seem to have the talent to create such a device.

  1. chas_m



    Good on em

    No hate for Palm here, quite the opposite. I'm delighted to see them starting to get back on their feet.

    I love my iPhone and doubt I would myself buy a Pre, but I don't want to live in a world where ONLY Apple makes the good products. I hope the Pre is successful for them, the iPhone needs a little real competition.

  1. coldfusion1970

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Looking good so far

    This looks to be the phone most likely to make me think again about my iPhone. I love the multi-tasking OS.

  1. luckyday

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The iphone wasnt revolutionary. The LG prada was, which was released and announced prior to the iphone, and gave us the full touchscreen candybar form we see on the iphone today.

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