CNET finally gets the Palm Pre and without Palm or Sprint supervision. Check out our hands-on photos of the highly anticipated smartphone.
Announced back at CES 2009, the Palm Pre's been called everything from an iPhone killer to Palm's comeback to Sprint's savior, and it quickly became one of the most anticipated smartphones of the year. We had to wait six long months for it but it's finally here.
The Palm Pre is available from Sprint starting June 6 for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate and with a two-year contract on Sprint's Everything Data plan or Business Essentials with Messaging and Data plan. In addition to Sprint stores, the Pre will be sold at Best Buy, RadioShack, and some Wal-Mart Stores. The Pre will be a Sprint exclusive through 2009, but AT&T and Verizon Wireless have already said they will offer the Pre once the exclusivity is up.
Here is the Palm Pre sandwiched between the Android-based Google Ion and the Apple iPhone 3G. Over the past few years, Palm has struggled to keep up with the competition but we think the Palm Pre is a good start to its comeback and its WebOS is even more promising.
One of the biggest highlights of the Palm Pre is its display. It measures 3.1 inches diagonally so it's slightly smaller than the iPhone's, but what it lacks in size, the Pre makes up for in quality. The 24-bit color HVGA display is incredibly vibrant and sharp with its 320x480 pixel resolution. It also has multitouch capabilities and a built-in accelerometer and proximity sensor.
In its closed state, the Pre measures 3.9 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick and weighs 4.76 ounces. It fits nicely in the palm of your hand and is certainly more pocket-friendly than the iPhone.
The center button is about the only external control you get on the Pre. This allows you to go to the Deck of Cards view where you can see all your open applications. There's also a gesture area between the bottom of the screen and the center button where you can bring up the quick launch bar while working in an application.
The lack of a physical keyboard was a big reason why some users didn't switch to the Apple iPhone, so when the Palm Pre was introduced with its full QWERTY keyboard, many rejoiced. However, like the Palm Centro and Palm Treo Pro, the buttons are rather tiny and there's very little spacing between them, making it difficult to type comfortably.
We agree that the Pre's keyboard is not the best, far from it, but before you completely dismiss it, we'd say give it a try. Like the iPhone's onscreen keyboard, you learn to make adjustments and can get used to it over time.
On top of the smartphone, you'll find a silent ringer switch, a power button, and a standard 3.5mm jack, allowing you to plug in your favorite pair of earbuds or headphones. The Pre also offers stereo Bluetooth support.
The Palm Pre is equipped with a 3-megapixel camera with an LED flash. The camera's functions are pretty basic and there are no video recording capabilities at this point, but Palm has alluded to adding this feature in the future.
Despite initial fears, the Pre's camera took excellent photos. Images take a little while to render on the device, so they looked blurry at first but we were pleasantly surprised when we saw the final picture.
The Palm Pre ships with a standard wall charger, but you can also get the Touchstone Charging Kit, which includes the Touchstone dock and back cover for $69.99. Other accessories will also be available for purchase, including a car charger and leather cases.