Pros: The OS is intuitive, Synergy is an effective way to sync your contacts, calendar and messages, and the web browser is super speedy.
Cons: The design is outmoded, the keyboard has nasty sharp edges and the apps store is understocked.
Verdict: The Palm Pre Plus is a good phone, but doesn’t really have a place next to the current batch of superphones.
The first Palm Pre impressed us enough to get a five-star review last year, so we were looking forward to getting our hands on the Pre Plus. But this slightly refreshed relaunch seems somewhat pointless in a market now full of handsets like the iPhone 4 and HTC Desire.
Appearance wise, there’s nothing to tell the Pre Plus from the original Pre, with its pebble-like shape, 3.1-inch touch-screen and slide-out QWERTY keyboard. There have been some improvements to the keyboard although the compact keys are quite hard to press and not suitable for people with big hands. And the edges of the keyboard are uncomfortably sharp, something that annoyed us on the original Pre.
Internal memory has been doubled, from 8GB on the original model to 16GB on the Pre Plus. It’s a good job, because there is no microSD card slot, so not chance to expand the memory. RAM has also been doubled, to 512MB.
Bundled in is an extra back cover that lets you recharge wirelessly using the Palm Touchstone charger. It’s available on several networks in the USA, but here it’s exclusive to O2, which won’t help the sales figures.
The webOS interface is as satisfactory as it was on the original, with each open programme presented in a row of ‘cards’ that you can swipe to end a program, by flicking upwards, or go back a step into your current open app, by swiping left.
It’s all logical and intuitive and still feels innovative even after a year. Whichever app you’re in you can tap the top left of the screen for more menu options. And to go back to the main home screen from anywhere, tap the touch area. You can’t add shortcuts to the home screen but you do get a customisable shortcuts bar that you can get to in any screen by swiping up from the bottom of the display.
The touch-screen also supports multi-touch with its slick pinch-to-zoom action on your browser, gallery and maps.
Every time you touch the screen there’s a ripple animation to show your tap has been registered. This would work better if there wasn’t a slight delay between your tap and the ripple, as it makes the phone feel slow even though it isn’t.
Multitasking is far and away the Pre Plus’ best feature. Trumping the iPhone 4 in this respect, it can run lots of programs at once so you can have one loading while you open another. It’s also very easy to shut down open programs, which you can’t do on Android handsets. We were running as many as ten programs simultaneously without any delay.
The WebKit browser is preloaded on the Pre Plus is superb, rendering pages quicker than most phones we’ve come across. Email is transferred immediately to both webmail and Microsoft Exchange accounts and can be read from a universal inbox or separately. To delete an email, just flick the screen to the right. It would have been nice to have had a conversation view to read emails like you have on Android phones and emails.
The Synergy feature is also excellent, syncing up calendar, contacts, email from all your accounts and Facebook. A year ago this was cutting-edge stuff but now phones such as the HTC Desire and Samsung Wave can do this and more.
Palm’s business nous is well in evidence here too, and adding an event to your calendar is easier than on any other phone out there. All you need to do is tap the day and you can add an event without having to enter a separate screen.
Many smartphones have all the bells and whistles but making a call is nigh-on impossible. The Pre Plus, thankfully, makes life easier. Simply tap the dialler icon to input a number directly or type a name into the QWERTY keyboard for a list of matching numbers. Call quality is good, and the roundness of the touch-screen makes tucking the phone between your ear and shoulder comfortable.
A-GPS and Google Maps mean GPS is pretty quick, although the twisting streets of Soho tested the fix, which was inaccurate at times.
Palm’s App Catalog, which was at one time badly understocked, is also far better equipped now and most major apps are covered, including Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. News apps come via the Evening Standard and New York Times and there are lots of dafter, pointless and fun apps available too. There are still less than 3,000 to choose from, though, far less than Android Market or Apple’s App Store and of lower quality than the 5,000+ offered by BlackBerry App World.
A year ago the Palm Pre bowled us over, but the Pre Plus has a dated design and very few added extras and doesn’t really hold its own next to the latest superphones like the Samsung Galaxy S or HTC Desire. The sync features that were innovative last year are now to be found everywhere, and these days you can get an iPhone on any network. The Pre Plus is unlikely to supersede the Pre’s poor sales figures because there’s really nothing new to offer.
|Type of phone:|| |
100.5 x 59.5 x 16.9
16 million colours
|Special Camera features:|| |
auto focus, LED flash
|Video recording:|| |
|Video playback:|| |
|Video calling:|| |
|Video streaming:|| |
|3.5mm jack port:|| |
|Handsfree speakerphone:|| |
|Voice Control:|| |
|Voice Dialling:|| |
|Call records:|| |
Practically unlimited entries, Photocall
|Ringtones customization:|| |
|Display description:|| |
TFT capacitive touch-screen
|Standard color:|| |
|Launch Status:|| |
|Operating system:|| |
MicroUSB, A2DP, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
|Announced date:|| |
|What's in the Box:|| |
512 MB RAM
|International launch date:|| |
|Battery life when playing multimedia:|| |
ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX graphics
|FM Radio Description:|| |
|Internal memory:|| |
512 MB RAM
|Memory Card Slot:|| |
Email, MMS, SMS
|Internet Browser:|| |
HTML, WAP 2.0
|E-mail client:|| |
|Data speed:|| |
|Display size:|| |
|Audio recording:|| |
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