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Mobile

The 411: Pre vs. iPhone, Limited Bluetooth, Amazon deals

Every two weeks, Nicole Lee answers your questions about cell phones and their accessories.

Welcome to the 411, my new Q&A column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have the same questions, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at nicole.lee@cnet.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.

The Palm Pre's battery life is an issue, but is that enough to avoid it?
The Palm Pre's battery life is an issue, but is that enough to avoid it? Corinne Schulze/CNET

I have the new Palm Pre and I am very concerned about the battery drain. The last phone that I had was the Instinct and was a smartphone and a good phone. But it was not an iPhone, so when the Palm Pre came out, I was happy that they had a phone that can holds a match to the iPhone. But the battery has me worried so I went out and got an iPhone 3G 8G and am trying it out. The iPhone is really a great device. But I have heard that AT&T has poor signal and service. I have been with Sprint for nine years and love their service and signal is dependable and the everything plan is great and affordable compared with AT&T. Do you have any help for me making this choose. -- Bradford, via e-mail

You'll have to decide which is more important for you--battery life, proper coverage, or affordability. As you've already mentioned, the Palm Pre has problems with battery life, and AT&T sometimes has poor coverage depending on your area (You should investigate this further in your own home and office instead of just relying on random hearsay though--you might find that you have good AT&T coverage in your area). It's also not as if the iPhone doesn't have battery issues either, depending on how much you use it. Since you seem to be more keen on sticking with Sprint though, I would suggest you stay with the Palm Pre for the time being, despite the poor battery life. Our own Bonnie Cha has released a brief how-to on maximizing the battery life on the Palm Pre. If that still isn't good enough, I would encourage taking a look at some of Sprint's other smartphones like the HTC Touch Pro, which might have a slightly longer battery life.

The iPhone OS 3.0 software adds stereo Bluetooth to the iPhone 3G, but only a limited form of AVRCP
The iPhone OS 3.0 software adds stereo Bluetooth to the iPhone 3G, but only a limited form of AVRCP Apple

I picked up a Motorola S9 stereo headset for use with my iPhone 3G; I'm still running O/S 2.2.1, and the phone won't pair with the headset. I kind of knew I would need 3.0 to use as a stereo headset with phone features, but shouldn't it at least pair with a 2.2.1 iPhone? Even if not, will everything be all right then with 3.0? -- Frank, via e-mail

The answer to your question is simple: Yes, your stereo headset will work with the OS 3.0 firmware. Updating to 3.0 is fairly painless, though it is a big update, and we encourage you to back up your phone prior to updating to the new firmware. However, as we mentioned in our iPod Touch review and in our recent blog post about stereo Bluetooth, the iPhone OS 3.0 firmware has limited AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile). This lets us play/pause music and adjust the volume from the headset, but not change tracks--we're only able to do the latter on the iPhone itself.

I'm currently looking to upgrade from my current VZW phone, and browsing the selection on Amazon I noticed their prices for significantly lower than at Verizon's site. Why is this? Will I still get to keep my plan the same and everything? And does is the warranty still intact? But mostly why are Amazon's phone prices consistently lower? -- Garrett, via e-mail.

From what I understand, Amazon and several other online vendors have deals with the carriers that allow them to offer such deep discounts. The plans are the same, and the warranty is intact, but these prices are typically only offered for new customers, not existing ones. Also, if you're changing providers, you have to do more legwork in calling up your old and new carriers to transfer your phone number. I can't give you a definite answer though, as I couldn't find the Amazon policy for this at the time of this writing. Have any of our readers bought a cell phone from Amazon before? Leave a comment and let us know.