Palm Pre, I Hardly Knew You

Palm Pre, I Hardly Knew You

I previously chronicled my thoughts about the Pre after my first two days of ownership about a month ago.

There were a lot of positives about the Pre. To name a few:

  • Hands down, best rate plan available, by a long shot;
  • Aside from the iPhone, probably the best darn phone out there;
  • Good 3G data access;
  • Nice size, comfortable fit in your hand or pocket;
  • Physical Keyboard;
  • Decent 3 megapixel, still camera;
  • Good IMAP email with multiple account support;
  • MMS is easy, free and fun.

There were significant negatives, though, that took precedence for me.

  • Battery Life: What can I say, the battery life on the Pre is horrible. Unless you’re comfortable living in a state of paranoia that you may not be close to a power outlet, car charger or a USB port every few hours, the Pre is going to let you down big time here. Our Pre’s would barely make it to dinner time each day before they required recharging. And then, you have to leave it on the charger, which, for some strange reason juts awkwardly straight out from the side, making the phone unwieldy to hold and use while charging.
  • It’s No iPhone: Perhaps the biggest problem we had with the Pre was that it just doesn’t measure up to the mature platform that is the iPhone OS. I am reasonably confident that if I had never owned an iPod Touch, and never knew how wonderful a mobile OS could be, I would have loved the Pre.
  • OS/Interface: Compared to the iPhone OS, the Pre’s WebOS is slow, immature, sloppy and cluttered. As in the desktop OS market, Apple reigns supreme with its emphasis on user-friendliness and its mature and refined OS. I found the notifications on the Pre to be too small to see at a glance and hard to accurately touch. There are several “pages” of apps that you can slide left and right, like on the iPhone. But, what makes it cluttered and confusing is that each page, once you slide to it, also scrolls up and down. So, if you slide over to a page, you can’t see immediately if the app you need is right there, you also have to slide up and down. Also, the up and down sliding doesn’t “lock” into place, and it has a slippery sort of feel to it.
  • Plastic Screen vs. Glass Screen: Speaking of slippery feel… I believe this particular problem is attributable to the fact that the Pre has a plastic screen, whereas the iPhone and iPod Touch have glass screens. The problem I found was that if there was any sweat on my hands whatsoever, the Pre would not respond. I missed several calls trying to slide the unlock button with sweaty hands. My fingers or thumbs would kind of stick to the screen and jump around, and the screen wouldn’t register the touch. This was very frustrating. The glass on the iPod Touch is much more responsive and forgiving to sweat.
  • Form Factor: I felt the Pre was a pretty solid design at first. However, as compared to the rock-solid iPod Touch/iPhone form factor, the Pre felt a bit creaky and there was a fair amount of play related to the sliding mechanism that made the phone feel a little jiggly.


The bottom line with the Pre, for us, was that they were ok phones with great rate plans, but also some pretty big drawbacks. I have no idea what will happen with the iPhone and its exclusivity agreement with satan AT&T or its extortionist outrageous text-messageless hellhole expensive rate plan. But, the one thing that really drove me crazy was the idea that I would settle for the Pre, and then 6 months to a year later, the iPhone would open up to Verizon or Sprint or would finally adopt a humane rate plan. I don’t know how I would survive the regret if such a thing were to happen while I was stuck with my Pre for another year-plus.

So, we returned our Pre’s, reactivated our Katanas, resumed our month-to-month posture with Sprint, and, in the process, discovered that for the last 2 years, Sprint has been charging us a bogus $3.50ish fee every month for living in a county in which we never lived. Even after the restocking fees for the Pre’s, we actually came out ahead.

Admittedly, texting on a 10-digit keypad sucks, but at least the Katana’s 2.5 year old battery still lasts me pretty much all weekend, and life is definitely sweeter without a cell phone contract.

Anyway, we’re happy we turned the Pre’s back in. My ownership of an iPod Touch has gone a long way toward mitigating the need for an iPhone – not the whole way, but a long way.

For now, I will sit hiding in the bushes with my trusty Katana and iPod Touch, fending off the evil temptations that lure me to the dark side AT&T. I don’t know how much longer I can last…