The long-awaited Palm Pre lives up to its pre-launch hype with a responsive touchscreen and an engaging interface, but a few hardware design flaws keep it from being the perfect smartphone - can it compete with the Apple iPhone 3G, T-Mobile G1 and BlackBerry smartphones? Actually, we think it can: read on to find out why...
Updated, January 7, 2010:
The smallest of all the smartphones we tested, the Palm Pre has desirability in spades, along with a truly wonderful interface.
First unveiled in January 2009, Palm managed to sustain excitement over the launch of the Pre throughout the year.
Despite some question marks over build quality from US customers who snapped it up in June, it still managed to be the phone the rest of us hoped would give the iPhone the runaround when it finally launched in the UK and select European countries in October.
The Palm Pre is pretty much everything its makers said it would be - and this compact smartphone promised a lot.
Different from the iPhone and assuredly a phone first and gadget later, it's both a touchscreen and slider phone.
Rather than fiddling with an onscreen keypad, you enter text using raised (but admittedly small) qwerty keys. When not required, the keypad slides back out of sight.
The bottom section of the pebble-shaped phone subtly curves forwards, cupping the mouthpiece and making for a more natural position when making and taking phone calls. We found the Pre a joy to use for calls, and both volume and clarity are impressive.
Contacts are automatically and intelligently linked, making it easy to see someone's Facebook, phone, instant message (IM) and email details.
Conversations can be conducted as a combination of calls, IMs, texts and email without losing the details of each. Clever stuff, although other phones in this round-up can do much the same.
The other big appeal of the Pre is that it can do several things at once. You can browse the web, listen to music, write an email and scroll through your to-do list without closing any of the applications.
Most navigation on the Pre is done using a small silver ball just below the screen. The areas immediately either side of this are touch-sensitive and are used to go back and forth.
The lower part of the screen area allows you to scroll through a ‘wave' of apps and select one to open with finger gestures. Extra apps can be downloaded from the Palm Web Store, but the choice is sparse.
NEXT: Original review, from June 09