There was a time I wouldn’t have bothered with looking at the Palm Pre Plus. Then a few things changed. None of them actually affect this phone directly, but did make a difference in how I look at the phone.
First of all was the acquisition of Palm by Hewlett-Packard. True this doesn’t make the phone itself better or worse. It does however breathe some new life into the WebOS platform, which is what I find most intriguing about this device. Palm took forever to build this new OS and it is every bit as stunning and smooth as described. The financial woes of the company concerned me however. But thanks to the takeover by HP, that is no longer a concern. I expect to see a new phone and/or a tablet running the WebOS before the year is out.
Then there is the price. Yes, SmartPhones are starting to take center stage in the mobile space thanks largely to the popularity of the iPhone and to a lesser extent some of the newer Android phone like the Droid, NexusOne and Evo, but all of those phones come with a price tag that is at or around $200… or more. True, the recently released version on at&t is at $149, but I expect that to drop in very short order as you can pick up the same exact phone (well, the CDMA version anyway) on Verizon for under $50. Yes, less than $50 (and free if you qualify for a New Every 2 rebate from Verizon Wireless). for a smooth (mostly) multi-tasking SmartPhone. Less than you would pay for messaging phone posing as a SmartPhone like the Kin 1 and Kin 2.
Now, the next reason is why I had this phone issued to me. VZW is currently (I don’t know when this offer ends) is throwing in the hotspot abilities for free. I had been begging my company for a Mi-Fi Card (a 3G wireless hotspot card) to go along with my corporate mobile. With this deal, I got both in one device, and can save the extra expense of a second account. Using it as a hotspot couldn’t be easier. Simply select the Hotspot “app” to turn it on, and find it with your laptop as you would any other wireless router, and boom, you are up and running on the Internet. (Just as a reminder, “unlimited” data means different things to different carries. With VZW 5 GB is “unlimited” at&t no longer offers an unlimited data plan at all, only offering a scam of a 250MB plan for $15 and a 2GB plan for $25/month. T-Mobile doesn’t charge users who go over 5GB, but reserves the right to “throttle” their bandwidth over 5GB, and Sprint currently says it has no plans to put any sort of cap on usage).
But what about the phone?
OK, so I have covered everything about the phone… except the phone itself. Let me start with the negatives first. (Since I know that I usually want to know up front if their is some dealbreaker up front rather than reading all the good stuff only to find that there is something that will prevent me from buying a particular phone).
Small screen. 4 or 5 years ago, when every phone was about how thin and/or small it was, this would have probably been considered a HUGE with a 3.1″ screen. Now, it is considered and feels tiny. Now granted, that may not be a negative to everyone. The phone is small and sleek, and almost feels like a polished stone in your hand. But when trying to browse the web, or even read an e-mail, that small screen can be annoying.
Small Keyboard. It is sad that the keyboard on the Pre Plus is *much* better than the original Pre. I guess it is better, but only marginally. Only the slightest of hands can possibly find this thing comfortable to type on for any length of time. True, the Droid’s keyboard is lacking as well, but at least with phones like the Droid, the Devour and other Android phones with a physical keyboard, you have the option of using the onscreen keyboard. The Pre Plus does not offer this convenience, so you have to get used to the keyboard.
No speed demon. Many people expected a boost in processor speed when the Plus came out, instead the same slower processor (a 550 Mhz OMAP) was put in here. It is enough for most basic tasks, but start using the great multi-tasking this device offers and suddenly you find lag coming up to bite you pretty quickly.
The Good Stuff
Since I only have VZW’s CDMA version, I can only speak for that one, but call quality on the phone is acceptable to good. Some might consider it great, but I was spoiled by the superb call quality of the Droid, and it is the gold standard by which I now judge, so the bar is set pretty high.
Screen clarity and contrast blows just about every other phone out of the water. I hated the whole concept of VZW marketing this phone as the “only phone to keep up with Mom” But I have to admit… they may be on to something there. I used this phone today is broad daylight. A bright sunny day, and I didn’t need to turn away from the sun or do anything else to read the screen. I could read it easily. The HVGA display looks almost “eInk” like in contrast quality making it the easiest I have seen in the bright sun. For the”soccer mom” trying to keep up with schedules, e-mails, Facebook posts, twitter, and so on, this is a major benefit. Heck, for anybody that needs to be able to read e-mails outside, this is a cool product for that alone.
Apps… yes it does to have apps. It may be disappointing to anybody coming from Android or an iPhone the number of apps that are currently available in the Palm App Catalog, but while small, at least it currently has an ecosystem to play with, which makes it better than messaging phones like the Kin 2 and Kin 2, the Chocolate Touch, the EnV Touch, etc.
Summing it up
So who is this phone for and who is it not? If your an Apple Fanboy, there is nothing here that will change your mind.
If it is about power… or apps or… or browsing the web… or other such things… then no, this may not be the device for you.
If you want a SmartPhone, but don’t want to pay the price for one of the bigger devices, but still want to be able to browse the web, and run an app here and there. Then yes this phone could be for you.
If keeping up with task lists and e-mails and calendars rule your life… this phone could be for you.
If you want a phone that easily fits into a shirt (or skirt) pocket… this phone could be for you.
If you want hot spot abilities to connect your other devices to the web wirelessly without having to buy a data card, this definitely could be the device for you.
The Pre Plus is more about the promise of what might come next more than what it is now. But what it is now, could be just enough to satisfy some people… especially at the current price.
What do others think?
Too Vague? Too Technical? Want another review from a real live parent using the phone (as opposed to those blogs that only want the “latest and greatest” and anything older is “outdated”), then also check out some other reviews of the Palm Pre from some of my favorite sources that I trust.
Busy Mom Reviews – Palm Pre Plus from Verizon Wireless Review and Giveaway
This Full House Reviews – Palm Pre Plus Blogger Review and Giveway
(sorry the giveaways are over, but the reviews are still worth reading).