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
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  • OCedHrt - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    My HTC has predictive text input (based on key locality) in case of a miss so I don't think Apple has a patent on it.
  • macs - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Speaking of fast web browsing.... i use opera mini on my google Ion phone (android). It delivers full browsing experience and it's blazing fast. Opera mini loads over my 3g network in just 9 seconds. You should try!
  • imaheadcase - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Thats how apple stays in business right there, everyone thinks throwing money at overpriced products IT will get better eventually.. ZING!

    I don't know why this review is comparing it to a Iphone, Iphone is outclassed by other smartphones as it is, why not compare it to a real phone like a HTC touch or the like? You know, a phone that is popular with regular people and not hollywood hipsters only..

    Downvote if you want, but the FACT of the matter is, the Iphone is a niche market, look at the top phones sold by At&T, the basic flip phone is still the best selling phone in the world, the HTC touch even outsells the iphone 10-1. Like I mentioned before, I know one person who has a iphone and he only got it because parents got it to him as a going away to collage gift.

  • jmaine - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    Where are you coming up with these stats from? Please show me one reliable source that says the HTC Touch outsells the iPhone 10-1. Please leave the bs in your dreams.
  • ltcommanderdata - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    One thing I find funny about arguments that the iPhone lacks basic features found in other phones is that despite this Apple has still sold 21 million iPhones as of March 2009, which is quite a success for a company that wasn't in the cell phone business 2 years ago. The question other phone manufacturers should be thinking about is what happens when the iPhone incorporates many of these lacking hard features in addition to the fluffy pizzaz it already has? How much additional demand will there be for a full featured iPhone?
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    The reviews agree, the HTC Touch isn't in the same class of smartphone as the iPhone. Most phones will outsell things like the iPhone; lower prices and lower monthly fees will determine quantities, but the space the iPhone competes in is the high end smartphone market where the stakes/players are a bit different.

    Take care,
  • rudy - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    I cant find any provider which sells an HTC touch cheaper then an iPhone.
  • Stas - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Same. I know 2 ppl that had iPhones. 1 was my techy friend, who took it to the shooting range and unloaded his rifle at it after 5 months of use. The other is my wife's friend who only knows how to call and text on it (not sure WHY she got it... oh, yeah, it's COOL).
    But I can think of at least 8 ppl that have a Blackberry... :)
  • anandtech02148 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Nokia N97, europe's answer to all american hyped up marketing trash. N97 unlocked, using Fring to escape that other american trash, US cellphone pre-nups.
    Voip, sip account, sweetness. symbian s60 5th is a bit shaky, but then again there isn't a perfect Os for new cellphone model that comes out every 3months, thanks to Taiwan,Korea and China new handset are out every 24hrs. the only win for Apple here is a lot of laid off engineers creating adobe flash games for the iphone, how else would you get 50,000 apps. my hope is Nokia's answer apple in the next 6month with dual cores Arm.

  • snarfbot - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    im glad you're happy with your 700 US dollar phone.

    dumb americans are happy to get a free phone and use the same carrier for a couple of years, probably because almost every network is essentially the same in terms of features/cost.

    on a side note, something needs to be done about the word american.

    america is a big continent, people commonly refer to those living in the USA as "americans".

    it would be more fitting if we were dubbed usa'ians our something so our neighbors dont get insulted by accident.

    which brings me to my last point, in response to the actual article!

    it is odd indeed how the messaging protocol varies regionally, i think the major reason most people in the US use AIM, is because we were all introduced to the splendor of the internet by aol in the 90's, then when broadband became available people switched over and kept their AIM screen names. Those that used a different isp just used AIM because everyone else was on aol, etc.

    Peoples elsewhere probably used icq, until msn/yahoo came along and freed them from oppression.

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