The Palm Pre Plus brings all the features we've come to love about WebOS, including the Deck of Cards multitasking function, Synergy, and Palm's notification system. In this section, we'll focus on what's new with the Palm Pre Plus, but for more information about WebOS, please read our full review of the Palm Pre for Sprint.
Most of you may be wondering what the difference is between the Verizon Pre Plus and the AT&T Pre Plus. For the most part, they are the same, but the AT&T version runs on the carrier's GSM/UMTS/HSDPA network and offers quad-band world roaming capabilities. The smartphone also ships with WebOS 1.4.2 out of the box, so you'll immediately get new features and enhancements that came with the WebOS 18.104.22.168 update, including video recording/editing. Unfortunately, Adobe has yet to deliver the Flash 10.1 plug-in to the Palm App Catalog, so there's no full support for Flash content within the Pre's browser right now.
In addition, the smartphone is preloaded with several AT&T services, including Yellow Page Mobile (YPMobile), AT&T Navigator, and support for the carrier's new cloud-based Address Book service. If you've used the latter to back up contacts from your previous phone, then you'll be able to sign into that account via Synergy and sync it back to the Pre Plus.
Unfortunately, the one service that we wanted to see carried over from Verizon's model is not supported on the AT&T Pre Plus and that would be Palm's Mobile Hotspot utility. This feature would have allowed you to turn the handset into a mobile Wi-Fi router for use with up to five devices, but alas, this will remain a Verizon exclusive. As some consolation, AT&T has added support for its Whisper service so the Pre Plus will automatically connect to any of the carrier's Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.
Aside from that, the hardware and software on AT&T's Palm Pre Plus is the same. You get double the Flash memory of the Pre, bringing it up to 16GB, with about 15GB available to the user, and it also has double the RAM, paving the way to run more apps and produce speedier performance.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900;UMTS/HSDPA 900/2100) Palm Pre Plus in New York using AT&T service and call quality, for the most part, was good. We enjoyed clear audio quality with minimal background noise. At no point during our review period did we have a problem carrying on a conversation, and we didn't experience any dropped calls. On the other side, our friends said they could tell we were using a cell phone and occasionally complained that the ends of our sentences would cut off. Otherwise, sound quality was satisfactory.
Speakerphone calls were a bit soft even with the volume cranked to the highest level, so it was difficult to carry on in louder environments. There was also a bit of a hollow tone. We had no problems pairing the handset with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth Headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
We were able to get a 3G signal throughout our testing period here in Manhattan, and the network provided fairly good speeds. CNET's full site loaded in 28 seconds, whereas CNN and ESPN's mobile site came up in 10 seconds and 12 seconds, respectively. Downloading a single track from the Amazon MP3 Store took about 1 minute, and downloading and installing the a free version of Asphalt 5 from the App Catalog took 2 minutes and 26 seconds. Streaming YouTube videos over 3G took a few seconds to buffer, but once loaded, the clips played without interruption. Of course, for best results, we recommend using a Wi-Fi connection whenever possible. It should also be noted that you can be on a call and have a data connection at the same time, unlike with Verizon.
The Pre Plus has the same 3-megapixel camera as the rest of the Pre family, which is fine by us as it has always impressed us with great picture quality, and the results are no different this time around. Whether we were shooting indoor or outdoors, the images came out sharp and with vibrant color. Video quality was also quite decent, and the editing process couldn't be any simpler.
The Palm Pre Plus uses the same processor as the original Pre, but as we mentioned earlier, it has double the RAM so the smartphone felt somewhat snappier. We noticed there was less lag when transitioning between cards and menu screens, and we had multiple apps running in the background (at least a dozen at one point) and didn't get a message alerting us to low memory. That said, there were still some delays when launching apps.
The Palm Pre Plus features a user-replaceable 1150mAh lithium-ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours and up to 14.5 days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests but will update this section as soon as we have final results. Anecdotally, with moderate use, we were running to charge our device by the end of the day, so we'd recommend carrying a charger with you at all times and/or a second battery. According to FCC radiation charts, the Pre Plus has a digital SAR rating of 0.923 watt per kilogram.