Last year at Mobile World Congress we were allowed to walk into the Palm stand and handle all its new handsets without any problems. There wasn't much of interest, but still, there weren't any restrictions. This year, Palm only allowed journalists to touch its latest mobile, the Palm Pre -- we couldn't even hold it. Odd? Yes, but there's a good reason: someone probably would steal it if they could.

The Palm Pre is a beautiful phone and that's incredible, because Palm doesn't make handsets with the hotness. Or at least it didn't. But seeing the Palm Pre in the flesh has made us realise how special it is -- it's small, curved and has a glossy piano finish that will attract as many ooos and aahs as it does fingerprints.

The Pre isn't merely a looker: the interface is also very attractive and intuitive. Palm's WebOS is everything we hoped for and more. It's very responsive and offers information in a charmingly straightforward way. Aside from Android, it's the only other iPhone OS competitor we rate at the moment.

That's enough of our waffle -- have a look at our hands-on pics to get a better idea of why this is such an amazing phone. A hands-on video will follow shortly.

The first thing that hits you when you see the Palm Pre in real life is how smooth and small it is. It resembles a large pebble and slips easily into a pocket. Or it would if Palm's reps were dumb enough to let us pocket one.
Unlike the iPhone, the Palm Pre has a full slide-out Qwerty keypad tucked underneath the screen. It's easy to type on after some practice and the keys are rubbery, making them easy to press accurately.
On the back of the Palm Pre there's a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash, which means you can take pictures in low light. Bad pictures, but still. Next to the camera you'll see a loud-speaker.
A curious addition to the Pre's casing is a mirror fitted behind the sliding mechanism. It can be used to check yourself out, or, should you find yourself stranded on a desert island, you could use it to reflect the sun at passing planes and boats -- you never know.
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