Tech Republic pries open the Palm Pre, the latest smartphone to create buzz in the marketplace, to see how it--and its insides--stack up against the iPhone.
The Palm Pre is the latest smartphone to create buzz in the marketplace. In partnership with iFixit and Phonewreck, CNET News sister site TechRepublic presents this Cracking Open photo gallery. Let's see how the Palm Pre's innards compare to the iPhone.
The lineup: Apple iPhone vs. Palm Pre. We love the feel of holding the Pre in our hands. In its closed position, it feels much more comfortable to hold than the iPhone. Notice the extra thickness of the Pre compared to the iPhone (17mm vs. 12mm). Not only does this allow the engineers more flexibility in designing the physical layout of components, but it also makes the Pre conform really well to our palm.
The back panel snaps off easily to reveal the battery. The Pre's battery capacity is 1150 mAh, exactly the same as the iPhone 3G, though the Pre is reported to have slightly worse battery life due to its background process capability (but we don't mind). Sprint will eventually sell replacement and/or backup batteries.
The Pre battery is on the left, and the iPhone 3G on the right. Although they're different shapes, both weigh in at 23 grams. In contrast to Apple's iPhones, the battery on the Pre is user-replaceable.
The two volume buttons are still connected to the front half of the phone. Completely separating the two halves requires first removing the plastic volume button cover, then peeling up the volume button electronics.
Removing the keyboard bezel. The hardware keyboard and its associated sliding mechanism weighs 32 grams. That's nearly 25 percent of the weight of the phone. Even if you're not a fan of a hardware keyboard, there's no denying that packing the keyboard into a device that's not much larger or heavier than the iPhone is a very impressive engineering feat.
The Palm Pre is the first phone using Texas Instruments' new OMAP3 (Open Media Applications Processor) platform. The processor is a 600MHz ARM Cortex A8, PowerVR SGX 530 GPU, 430MHz C64x, DSP, and ISP (Image Signal Processor).
Unfortunately, everything interesting is carefully hidden beneath metal EMI shields. Not only are the shields soldered to the board, there's epoxy holding them down as well. Palm definitely didn't make it easy to see what makes the Pre tick.
Shown here are the internal components, from left to right: earpiece speaker, LCD display and digitizer, microphone, communications board; original rear panel and plastic framework; battery, internal metal framework and spring mechanism, keyboard; camera board and main circuit board; main plastic framework containing antennas, antenna cabling, and the surprisingly excellent speakerphone.
On the connections side we see the usual Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo going to Marvell and CSR, with the W8686 and 63823 respectively. We also see the BaseBand win going to Qualcomm, with the heavily integrated MSM6801A platform. The OMAP3 PMIC (power management integrated circuit) comes loaded with a USB transceiver and audio codec, which even further reduces the overall board density of this device. We're not fully sure, but it looks as if the Pre's cool new multitouch Touch Screen Controller win went to Cypress Semiconductor with the CP6944BA device.
On the top of the communications board we can spot the BaseBand Processor (Qualcomm MSM6801A), SDRAM, RF power amp, and Duplexer by TriQuint.
Shown is the back of the display, complete with what appears to be a manufacture date at the beginning of January. Unfortunately for repair, it doesn't look like the LCD and digitizer are easy to separate. Both the iPhone and the Pre sport an HVGA display. However, the iPhone's display measures 3.5 inches diagonally, while the Pre's is only 3.1 inches.
On the main logic board, we see the OMAP3 PMIC--the Texas Instruments TWL5030. This PMIC is packed with a USB transceiver as well as audio codec. We also see the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transceivers with wins from both Marvell and CSR. This device contains a microUSB port and 8GB of internal memory from Samsung.
Elpida offers up some mobile DDR memory and is stacked on top of the venerable OMAP3 processor.
Shown is a component comparison between the iPhone and the Palm Pre. Hardware-wise, the Palm Pre is very impressive. Our only hardware complaint is the physical keyboard, though some people may appreciate the hardware keyboard.
The Pre logic board is substantially smaller than the iPhone logic board, which is very impressive considering how renowned Apple's engineers are for shrinking hardware footprints. It's amazing the difference a year can make. In general, this Palm hardware reminds us a lot more of Apple's engineering style than any of hardware we've taken apart by other manufacturers (like Dell).