O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone 3GS, to see just which will suit your needs.

O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone, to see just which will suit your needs.

Mobile main screens

The Apple iPhone (left) starts you with immediate access to your apps on its home screen, while the Palm Pre (right) shows the core apps at the bottom of the window and leaves the rest of the space open for whatever you might choose to run.

The iPhone shows any alerts, such as unread messages, with the application's icon, while the Pre displays alerts at the bottom of the screen in a notification area.

Working with email

Both the iPhone and Palm Pre display email messages in lists. On the iPhone, account lists are separated, meaning you must navigate from one email account to another to view all your messages.

The Pre, however, stacks account lists, allowing you to hide or show each list, so all of your email is available in one place. Only the iPhone lets you search messages - a major omission on the Pre.

Tapping the top of the Mail app jumps the iPhone to the top of your message list; the Pre has no equivalent shortcut. The iPhone also lets you select multiple (including nonadjacent) messages for deletion or moving to a folder, while the Pre can't multiple-select.

Both the iPhone and Pre use horizontal swipes to delete individual messages, though the iPhone makes you click the Delete button that appears, while the Pre simply deletes the message, making it easy to delete messages by accident.

NEXT PAGE: Working with mail folders

  1. Just which smartphone suits your needs better?
  2. Working with mail folders
  3. Contacts and copy and paste
  4. Working with universal search
  5. Running multiple apps and adding new apps
  6. Navigating with maps
  7. Mobile-optimised content


O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone 3GS, to see just which will suit your needs.

Working with mail folders

The iPhone and Palm Pre both use a familiar hierarchical folder structure for easy navigation. The iPhone lets you move messages both from within the message and from the message list, whereas the Pre allows you to move messages into folders only from within the message itself.

Both devices keep folders synched, though the iPhone gives you folder-by-folder control as to whether synching occurs live or when you open a particular folder, thereby helping you optimise power consumption.

Working with calendars

The iPhone and Palm Pre both display calendars graphically, with event information legible in the day view. Both devices give more detailed information when an event is clicked.

The iPhone doesn't allow you to assign events to calendars other than the calendar in which you created the event; the Pre, however, does. The iPhone lets you initiate calendar invitations; the Pre does not.

The iPhone, however, cannot open .ics calendar invitation files, whereas the Pre can. The iPhone's list view for calendars is a compact display method the Pre lacks.

NEXT PAGE: Contacts and copy and paste

  1. Just which smartphone suits your needs better?
  2. Working with mail folders
  3. Contacts and copy and paste
  4. Working with universal search
  5. Running multiple apps and adding new apps
  6. Navigating with maps
  7. Mobile-optimised content

O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone 3GS, to see just which will suit your needs.

Working with contacts

The iPhone and Palm Pre both display contacts cleanly and allow for fast navigation. On the Pre, type a letter on the keyboard to jump to contacts whose first or last name contains that letter.

On the iPhone, tap the letter list on the window's right side to jump to entries whose last name begins with the letter. Both devices let you search your contacts, but on the iPhone, the virtual keyboard does cramp the search results.

Using copy and paste

For several years, the iPhone lacked copy and paste, which frustrated many users. It now has this capability, and it is very easy to use - tap and hold for a second, slide the selection bar that appears, and tap the desired action from the floating menu.

The Palm Pre (right) also has copy and paste, but in a limited, difficult-to-use form. Whereas the iPhone allows you to cut, copy, and paste both text and graphics, the Pre allows you to copy only text in fields, so there's no way to copy URLs from emails or addresses from web pages, for example.

And the awkward selection mechanism on the Pre - tap and hold, then hold the Orange key while selecting the text via touch - destines many selections to failure before you can actually cut, copy, and paste (via a menu or keyboard shortcuts)

NEXT PAGE: Working with universal search

  1. Just which smartphone suits your needs better?
  2. Working with mail folders
  3. Contacts and copy and paste
  4. Working with universal search
  5. Running multiple apps and adding new apps
  6. Navigating with maps
  7. Mobile-optimised content

O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone 3GS, to see just which will suit your needs.

Working with universal search

The iPhone and Palm Pre both offer device-wide search capabilities. On the iPhone, you use the Spotlight tool (swipe to the left when on the home page), while on the Pre you just start typing on the keyboard.

The iPhone can search all your device's contents - including email, notes, music, podcasts, music, and filenames - while the Pre searches just applications, contacts, and (optionally) selected external sites such as Wikipedia. The iPhone's results can be overwhelming, though you can configure Spotlight to search only specified types of files.

Managing mobile apps

The iPhone places all apps in its home screen, adding screens as needed. You can move apps around as desired and place any four in the row at bottom that is available in all app screens.

The Palm Pre places apps in its App Launcher, also in a series of screens, and it too lets you rearrange apps and choose which four apps are displayed in the permanent, bottom row.

You can also type the name of an app to find it and launch it on the Pre. The App Launcher can be confusing to navigate due to a combination of vertical and horizontal scrolling. Although the Pre offers a list view of all installed apps, you cannot launch any from the list - an odd restriction.

NEXT PAGE: Running multiple apps and adding new apps

  1. Just which smartphone suits your needs better?
  2. Working with mail folders
  3. Contacts and copy and paste
  4. Working with universal search
  5. Running multiple apps and adding new apps
  6. Navigating with maps
  7. Mobile-optimised content

O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone 3GS, to see just which will suit your needs.

Running multiple apps

The iPhone can't run multiple apps simultaneously, thus the big blank space at left.

When you switch apps, you essentially close the current one down to open the new one. The Palm Pre uses the intuitive card metaphor to move among apps (you close an app by pulling its card up and out of the array).

Not only can apps run at the same time on the Pre, but they can work with each other, such as to exchange information. The Pre's approach to running multiple apps is easily its most significant advantage over the iPhone.

Adding new apps

The iPhone lets you search and browse apps wirelessly, providing a fair amount of detail before you decide what to buy. The Palm Pre (right) has a similar mechanism and is comparably easy to use.

You can also peruse iPhone apps from a PC via iTunes, but the Pre offers no comparable desktop access. Both devices let you update apps wirelessly as well.

NEXT PAGE: Navigating with maps

  1. Just which smartphone suits your needs better?
  2. Working with mail folders
  3. Contacts and copy and paste
  4. Working with universal search
  5. Running multiple apps and adding new apps
  6. Navigating with maps
  7. Mobile-optimised content

O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone 3GS, to see just which will suit your needs.

Navigating with maps

The iPhone and Palm Pre both come with Google Maps, which lets you easily navigate and find your location. Although both use Google Maps, the Pre's direction-by-direction map capability is a bit easier to use than the iPhone's.

On the iPhone, you get a new screen when you move to the next turn in your journey, which can make you lose context of the route; the Pre scrolls the map instead, so you keep that context.

Both devices let developers integrate location capabilities in apps, such as restaurant finders, using a combination of GPS, mobile-tower triangulation, and Wi-Fi mapping. The new iPhone 3GS - but not other models - has a compass that lets maps orient themselves more fluidly as you move.

Managing bookmarks

The iPhone can sync bookmarks with your PC via iTunes and save bookmarks on the iPhone itself in a folder hierarchy. The Palm Pre also saves bookmarks in a list, as well as in an array of web page preview icons (the iPhone has no such preview of bookmarked pages). But the Pre's boomarks cannot be managed in a folder hierarchy as they can on the iPhone.

Note that the Pre displays icons for bookmarks in list view only for bookmarks included on the device; it cannot read the .ico files used to display URL thumbnails on a desktop browser.

The iPhone can't use .ico files either, but web pages can include a PNG icon that the iPhone uses as an app icon for that web page if you save it as a web app to the Home screen. Both devices suggest web page addresses as you type in URLs.

NEXT PAGE: Mobile-optimised content

  1. Just which smartphone suits your needs better?
  2. Working with mail folders
  3. Contacts and copy and paste
  4. Working with universal search
  5. Running multiple apps and adding new apps
  6. Navigating with maps
  7. Mobile-optimised content

O2 announced this week that it will be offering the Palm Pre in the UK before Christmas. But before you spend all your hard-earned cash on Palm's latest smartphone, we've pitted it against Apple's iPhone 3GS, to see just which will suit your needs.

Using mobile-optimised content

Website creators can provide sites optimised for the iPhone and Palm Pre. They can be mobile-formatted websites in an application wrapper, like on the Pre above, or a fully native content app as shown on the iPhone above.

Many publications use mobile-optimised web pages that work on multiple devices rather than wrapping them as apps.

  1. Just which smartphone suits your needs better?
  2. Working with mail folders
  3. Contacts and copy and paste
  4. Working with universal search
  5. Running multiple apps and adding new apps
  6. Navigating with maps
  7. Mobile-optimised content