Final Words

When I first got the Pre I was disappointed. I expected it to be like my iPhone but better. Instead, the Pre ended up being better in some areas, worse in others, but predominantly different. The more I used it, the more I let go of my iPhone upbringing and embraced how well Palm combined the UI elegance of the iPhone with the functionality of so many smartphones before it.

Augmenting that powerful combination, Palm did a tremendous job in bringing brand new features to the table. Shame on Nokia, Motorola and the established cell phone industry for failing to do what it took Palm two years to do.

The Pre’s multitasking is one area where Palm completely trumped Apple. There are tradeoffs that Palm made but the Pre is just so much more productive (perhaps more for chatting than actual work) because of its multitasking support. There’s absolutely no reason for Apple not to embrace something similar. I’m guessing we won’t see real multitasking from Apple until iPhone OS 4.0, but there’s a lot of catch up that Apple needs to do here. If Apple had been working on multitasking since before the Pre announcement, we’ll easily see it supported in the iPhone next year. If Apple didn’t start on multitasking support until after Palm’s CES keynote, we won’t see it until 2011. Without a doubt this is a clear advantage for Palm.

Synergy is also another tremendous win for Palm that should’ve been implemented long ago by every other mobile phone manufacturer. The days of plugging your smartphone into your Mac or PC to sync it are numbered. Your friends manage their contact information in the cloud, so why not pull from their updates rather than manually manage it all on your own? It’s brilliant.

There are a few rough edges with the Pre but honestly, I have more faith in Palm to make the Pre perfect than I do in Apple to embrace the Pre’s advantages (at least in a timely manner). Look at how long it took Apple to enable Cut and Paste support on the iPhone.

What do you think is going to happen when Palm perfects Synergy? Apple now becomes the underdog and has to play catch up.

Palm needs to work on a lot unfortunately. Synergy needs tweaking, there’s no visual voicemail, limited search functionality, limited copy/paste and there’s absolutely no reason that anything should ever be slower on the Pre than on the iPhone. It’s like me writing software that somehow runs faster on an Athlon 64 than on your Core i7 system. It’s clear that Palm has a lot of optimizing left with the Pre. I’d say there’s a good 6 months of work there to get this thing perfect. If it takes any longer, I start losing faith in Palm, if it takes any less time then I start being worried for Apple.

Then there’s the issue of build quality. The Pre is definitely acceptable, but not iPhone dethroning awesome in this department. Everyone is expecting more webOS based phones to come out in the near future, well at least one of them had better feel at least as sturdy as the iPhone.

I’m less worried about the Palm Store than I am these other items. The initial excitement over hacking the Pre has got me convinced that we’ll see third party development for this phone, it’s just going to take a while to get there.

Bring me a Pre that fixes Synergy, improves performance, has iPhone-like materials/build quality, full search, full copy/paste, visual voicemail and a more mature app store and I’ll leave Apple. Until then, personally, I’ll keep a close eye on the Pre because Palm totally gets it. This is what a smartphone is supposed to be and we finally, two years after the iPhone’s release, have a real competitor both in hardware and in OS.

If you don’t want to deal with AT&T, if you need a physical keyboard or if you just want to root for the underdog - the Palm Pre is for you. If you’re on Sprint, the Pre is easily the best smartphone the network has to offer. The Pre is the embodiment of innovation and I can’t stress how important it is to support companies like that.

How Palm behaves over the next six months will truly determine how positively we should all view the company. If the Pre gets regular updates, fixing issues and expanding features then we have a real winner here folks.

Curtain Call: What Apple Needs to Do

If you have an iPhone or if you work for a certain company in Cupertino (or any smartphone maker for that matter), then the Pre serves as a blueprint for what needs to change with the iPhone.

The following abridged list is a minimum set of guidelines that need to be present in iPhone OS 4.0:

1) Real multitasking support. The Cortex A8 in the Palm Pre is significantly faster than the ARM11 core in the iPhone 3G, Apple will have the same hardware with the 3GS and thus there’s no reason not to enable true multitasking.

2) A Synergy-like sync. Palm’s idea was pure brilliance. Instead of worrying about defending your precious gestures and stopping the Pre from syncing with iTunes, I want to see a free, Synergy-like sync to Google, Facebook, etc... from Apple. And I swear if Apple uses this as an attempt to push MobileMe...

3) An improved messaging client. Along with Synergy came a much better way to communicate with your friends and contacts. Conversations, regardless of whether they are over AIM, SMS all appear in one window, in one chat history. Hello, it makes sense.

There. That’s not too difficult to do right? I’ll tell you what, I’ll even give Apple another $200 to help fund it.

Camera & Syncing
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • nycromes - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    I think Anand did a pretty good job with the review, I was kicking around the idea of picking up a new Pre sometime soon and this review just pushed me over the top. I am going to get one ASAP.

    All that being said, I am somewhat disappointed in this review. I have to agree with other posters that the article was a confusing piece (Palm Pre Review or Iphone wish list). Certainly the Pre has some room to improve (hopefully software updates can address some of the issues Anand described). I know that the Iphone is a very popular phone and as such it will be one of the top comparison phones, but people still give Apple way too much leeway for cutting out features in the name of a simple experience. I am happy to see Palm doing what it can to put features back into a phone that gives a similar to the Iphone experience.

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Thanks guys. I see it this way: Apple set the bar very high with the iPhone, to take a step backwards in anything the iPhone perfected is bound to be disappointing. No visual voicemail? No full system-wide search? Slower app launches and choppier animations? These, in my mind, are unacceptable given that Apple already provided the market with a good blueprint of what to do.

    If Palm didn't force me to give anything up that the iPhone delivered, I would switch in a heartbeat. I either want Palm to perfect the Pre or Apple to adopt Pre-features, I don't really care which one happens, I just want at least one of them to happen :)

    Take care,
  • nycromes - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    The article makes more sense when you put it that way. Again, thanks for the great review. It helped me make up my mind on the Pre.
  • Lozil - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Ya, Multitasking, Being cool, Physical keyboard. The Phone just seems Right.

    I don't understand why Anand is so inclined to iPhone..! Even when the Pre is better, You Just doesn't want to agree on that, Just wants Apple to give those Features...

    Man i got confused... It's a Palm Pre Review or iPhone Enhancement Request... :P
  • bigboxes - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Thanks for this timely (and in depth) product review. Sounds like Palm has a lot of optimization to do with the OS before I'd ulitmately consider it for my next phone.

    My quick research shows that this device does not have an expansion slot for memory. Does the Pre allow you to install additional codecs? It supports MP4, H263 and H264, but not the XviD codec. Although I encode my videos using the X264 codec these days, I have a lot of DivX/XviD files in my collection. Does it allow users to assign an mp3 as a ringtone or does it require users to use a specific format? Palm's website lists "Bluetooth tethering" as a feature. Any chance that you tested that out? Speaking of bluetooth, how is this device's performance with other bluetooth devices? The security setup? How is the call quality when using the phone with no headset? The microphone? Does Palm have any plans on upgrading the Pre to a metal housing or even offering one in the near future? I'd also like to see support for MSN IM or maybe offer a Trillian-like app (or something like that).
  • cjb110 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    A lot of the Pre reviews have mentioned the keyboard being ok, but not great. None of them mention the bonus of actually having all of screen space available while you type. Yea the iphone and android's have bigger screens, but so what if you loose half every time the keyboard appears.

  • prophet001 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    absolutely hilarious "dude i just took the biggest poop. wanna see?"
  • strikeback03 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Didn't he use that in his first iPhone review? Which didn't have picture messaging?
  • Rolphus - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link


    On the browser performance page, I couldn't spot any mention of which version of the iPhone OS you're using for comparison? I've found 3.0 to be much faster, having benefited from the updated WebKit builds including the "Nitro" JS engine and general render speed improvements (I assume the Pre has this build as well). Would you mind clarifying or pointing me toward the answer?

    Many thanks,

  • ltcommanderdata - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link">

    Well the first teardown of the iPhone 3G S seems to confirm that Apple too uses a ARM A8 Cortex SoC with PowerVR SGX as predicted. I wonder if the hardware similarity between the Palm Pre and the new iPhone will put pressure on Apple to implement multitasking. They could argue hardware limitations for the older models, but it's difficult to hold back now that the Pre has shown it can be done well on newer hardware. Sadly, it'll probably be the major new feature of iPhone OS 4.0 next year.

    On a hardware note, I wonder what version of the PowerVR SGX is in the new iPhone. The SGX520 as Anand predicts or the SGX530 as the Palm Pre. I'm guessing the teardown wouldn't be informative on this and we'll have to wait for driver analysis.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now