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Breaking up is hard to do

Why I left T-Mobile and signed up with Sprint.

The Palm Pre that CNET shipped to me is actually my second Pre. This post explains my decision to buy it and make the switch to Sprint. The second Pre is currently in the possession of my less tech-obsessed partner, and I'll write about her experiences in a future post.

Why I left T-Mobile and signed up with Sprint.

Before I got the Palm Pre I had the T-Mobile Dash for a little over three years. The Dash was a fine first smartphone: good size, excellent keyboard, and fairly good screen considering the size. It came with Windows Mobile 5, an expansion slot, and, with a little hackery you could easily find instructions for on the internet, internet access for six dollars. There was also a fairly healthy developer community so I bought a few cheap applications that made life easier: calendar, tasks, password manager, and sms threading to name a few.

Left to right: Palm Pre and T-Mobile Dash. Joanne Fong

There were a few downsides. The EDGE network is slow. Since I was not actually on the data plan (the six dollar hack was on the T-web plan, I believe), I was actually locked out of a few features on the phone. Buying an unlock code allowed me to use wifi but I never did get any java applications like gmail or Opera to work. This set up worked fine for a year or more since my main needs were calendaring and making calls, but I started to want my phone to do more. Mainly I wanted better/faster internet access to check my regular sites on my commute, such as Plurk and Twitter, NextBus to find out exactly how late my bus or train was going to be, and Google Maps. Also, I was considering GPS in order to make Google Maps more useful.

Left to right: Palm Pre with keyboard extended, and T-Mobile Dash. Joanne Fong

I was really excited about the Google Android operating system when it was first announced, and since I was already a T-Mobile customer it would have been an easy choice to make. It was a good chunk of time between me deciding to get a new phone and T-Mobile releasing the G1 Android phone. It was probably about 8 months, and when I finally saw the G1 I didn't feel it was worth the wait. Playing with the phone at the T-Mobile store and reading the reviews didn't make me feel like I needed to buy the 1.0 version of this phone, and when I heard about the Palm Pre announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in January I decided Palm was the way to go.

T-Mobile Dash (top) and the Palm Pre Joanne Fong

I have to admit that Palm almost lost me, though. Announcing the Pre in January but not selling it until June was almost too long. Luckily for Sprint and Palm, T-Mobile had no second Android phone and no 3G Blackberry phones to offer me. For those of you thinking "iPhone" right now, I don't like AT&T or Apple very much, and I'll leave it at that. As far as service is concerned, I had no reason to believe Sprint would be worse that T-Mobile in San Francisco and so far I have no complaints. I have noticed that I don't get a signal with the Palm Pre in my train station, whereas the Dash never let me down. This is a little disappointing since it's nice to read the news or check status updates while waiting for the train, but I only take the train a couple times a week at most, and I'm not usually waiting for very long. Other than that, calls sound good and I haven't noticed any problems using applications that require GPS.