By June 2, 2010

Review: Palm Pre

  DSCN1214One phone that seems to have suffered almost every failing that could come to it is the Palm Pre. A phone we have been excited about playing with for an extended period since its first announcement. So what is our take on the Palm Pre, Precious or Preposterous.



Working around the device the top end is the busiest. A central 3.5mm headphone socket, Palm’s signature silence slider and a fairly clumsy power button. Using the power button is a hit of miss experience. It mostly works but you won’t know until the screen lights up. There is the slightest amount of a click but sometimes results in nothing.

On the left is a typical volume rocker and little else. The right side has a microUSB port with a rather flimsy door over the top. Hope the device doesn’t rely on this port as the door feels like it might only last a few openings. Once gone it will destroy most of the stylish look of the device. The bottom has the clip for the replaceable back


The back is a smooth surface depending on what cover you have. With holes for the camera, LED flash and a speaker there is little else to speak of other than the Palm branding. The Touchstone back has a good amount of grip to it and the cover itself is a lot higher quality than the thin plastic, glossy one shipped with the device. On the topic of the Touchstone, the charger is a lovely addition and as it chunks into place it seems an appropriately modern technology.

Underneath is the battery and SD card. No MicroSD card slot for expandable memory which is a crying shame.


The slide out Qwerty keyboard is a major draw for the device. Palm has always scored highly on the quality and size of their front facing keyboards. This one is a mixed bag. On the one hand the keys are usable if a little too cramped. On the other the buttons have enough feedback but you have to tolerate the rubbery stick feel of them. Compared to my Palm Treo 650, one of the finest front facing keyboards ever made, the Pre just can’t measure up. It works and it’s a nice alternative to a touchscreen keyboard but it’s just too cramped and the keys would have been better made of moulded plastic.
The layout on the other hand helps make the experience more bearable. Shortcuts and alternatives are fast and logical.

The screen is one of the biggest flaws. It’s just too small. In a time were manufactures are trying to make them as big as possible yet pocketable Palm went of small and manageable. Whilst it’s very crisp and colourful it’s just too small for one to use as a main device if you have ever used something bigger.

One of the big things that needs to be addressed is the build quality. In almost every review you will read will state that the build quality is subpar. Whilst I half-heartedly agree with it, I think it is one negative that must be picked upon in an otherwise long list of positives. The build quality is not 5 star, nor is it 4 star. However, it is no worse than a great many other phones on the market. Of course, when using moving parts the mechanisms are always a little ropey and this device I have been using shows signs of this. Lets not forget this is a review device that has been through the hands of many reviewers over the months who have thrown it around as it is not theirs.

Perhaps this is one of the few devices that was built well. There is the tiniest amount of movement from the screen and whilst it does make the device feel a little flimsy it’s no worse than the movement I experience after three months of using the HTC Tytn II. The slide mechanism could be a little more fluid though, it can be a bit of a pain sliding it open and closed when the keyboard is required, a sigh sometimes slips out when only 1 digit needs to be entered.

For all the negativity surrounding the build quality I will say this, I a less cautious of scratching the screen than I am with any of my other devices and this is a big plus. There is no join, no dust collection grooves and no delicate surface. Covering the screen is the same plastic gloss that covers the rest of the mould and I honestly think this is ideal. Whilst it’s not 100% scratch proof it will withstand a lot more in the way of knocks and bumps than most other phones on the market.

Webos is the most interesting aspect of the device. Frankly, for the time I used it, I liked it. It was much simpler to use than Palm OS, which is saying something! However since the time of this being released you can see how the likes of Android have moved leaps and bounds were this has had a few updates but nothing as significant that you would come to expect from Apple or Google.

The 600mhz processor it quite snappy, however there is a notable delay when booting programs. For some similarly spec’d devices the delay is a lot less. The battery life tends to also flag a little when under heavy use. When hitting 3G and running location services you will see your battery last the morning, tops.


Multitasking is one of Webos’ strengths, a statement that none of the more popular operating systems can boast too loudly about. There doesn’t seem to be the memory leaks that Android can suffer from. The system doesn’t bog down as easily or leave things in memory you have asked to close like Windows Mobile would do. It’s simply does it and warns you when things are getting a little too much for the little fella.


Any operating system worth it’s salt has got to have an application portal and the App Catalog delivers a light collection of apps, however almost all needs are catered for. There isn’t anywhere near the amount of rubbish you would find in the Android or iTunes app stores. The price at pretty much on par with the other stores however where you could find cheaper or free alternatives in the Apple or Android marketplaces you are resigned to only one, sometimes two here. This isn’t a direct reflection to WebOS, merely a lack of support on the part of the app community.


Of the gimmicks on the phone I feel Palm have done well. Little additions that were designed to raise a smile also become somewhat useful in day to day life. Flipping away cards, the pop-up menu and the centre button are all more useful than you would expect. I’m not a fan of the gestures. I like the satisfaction of having a button to press or an obvious soft key to indicate what I am planning to do. I guess over time users will get used to these.

I am guilty, like all others, for the failure of the Palm Pre, I didn’t buy it. This is for two main reasons. Firstly, I had heard the build quality was pretty bad, something I don’t agree with fully as stated above. Secondly, Palm’s decision for O2 to be the sole carrier, I could understand 6 month exclusivity but they didn’t go that route. The saying “keep your friends close but your enemies closer” springs to mind as the iPhone was only available to O2 customers at the time.This is a mistake Palm have decided to make again with the Pre Plus and the Pixi Plus.

The Palm Pre has been a long time coming and I’m honestly pleased with it. I couldn’t recommend it to anyone now, but at the time I would have embraced it. The screen is small and that it the devices biggest folly for me. The keyboard would take some getting used to and the unprompted gestures would become second nature. WebOS is an exciting platform with great ideas that both Android and Apple have taken inspiration from. It’s an ambitious effort that was ultimate doomed by fierce competition.

Thanks go out to Tracyandmatt who have supplied us this review device

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Network – GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 850 / 1900 / 2100
Size – 100.5 x 59.5 x 16.9 mm
Weight – 133 g
Display – TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 320 x 480 pixels, 3.1 inches
Memory – Internal 8 GB storage, 256 MB RAM
Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth – v2.1 with A2DP, headset support only
Camera – 3.15 MP, 2048×1536 pixels, enhanced fixed focus, LED flash
CPU – ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX graphics
– Java
– Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate
– QWERTY keyboard
– 3.5 mm audio jack
– MP3/WAV/eAAC+ player
– MP4/H.264/H.263 player
– Organizer
– Document viewer
– Voice memo/dial
– microUSB
Battery – Li-Ion 1150 mAh
Stand-by – 300 h
Talk time – 5 h


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Posted in: Phones

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Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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