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In defense of Sprint and the Palm Pre

An internal AT&T document attacks the Palm Pre for being inferior to the Apple iPhone, but CNET editor Bonnie Cha defends the Pre--and Sprint. via Engadget Mobile

As you may have seen by now, got ahold of an internal memo from AT&T comparing its precious iPhone 3G with the Palm Pre, and not surprisingly, bashing the Pre as an inferior device.

Now, you know I haven't been particular happy with Sprint or Palm about the way the company's been handling the Pre, but I'm coming to its defense here and saying that this is just plain laughable. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

First off, AT&T has a couple of legitimate points. The iPhone has the advantage of international world roaming and comes in a 16GB capacity, whereas the Pre isn't a world phone and only comes in an 8GB model. Fair enough. However, the carrier then criticizes the Pre for only coming in black and being thicker and heavier than the iPhone. Well, if you want to nitpick, AT&T, the Pre is shorter and smaller in width, and I'm sure the whole 0.07 ounce of extra weight will slow all Pre owners down.

Next, AT&T makes several baseless statements, saying that the Pre's touch-screen gesture controls are "not intuitive" and that it has an "unproven App catalog." Unless AT&T has some moles embedded in Sprint's and Palm's labs, how do we know this is the case? Hey, I'll be the first to give Apple credit for the iPhone's ease of use, multitouch screen, and iTunes App Store, but does that mean the Pre will be unintuitive and have a crappy app store? No. The fact is, we won't know for sure until it's out, and to make this argument on pure conjecture is weak.

What else? Oh, right. The Pre's limited, free Wi-Fi access. While Sprint's customers might not have free access to 17,000 AT&T and Starbucks hot spots, AT&T, can we talk about your wonky 3G coverage? Also, the poor Pre "can't receive map updates or location assist in most of the world due to the lack of GSM capability." True, that's unfortunate for the around-the-clock globetrotter, but I'm guessing a majority of the time these smartphones will be used domestically, and, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the Pre that will have turn-by-turn navigation at launch while the iPhone will be dependent on third-party apps? It's also funny how AT&T left out the parts about the Pre having a removable battery, a better camera, multitasking, and support for Bluetooth tethering.

Listen, this post isn't meant to be an iPhone bashing session/Pre lovefest. It's just about putting things into perspective. Many people are saying that this is a sign that AT&T and Apple feel threatened by the Pre and felt they needed to go on the offensive--could be. I'd agree that the Pre is a formidable competitor to the iPhone, but the fact is, until the Pre actually launches and we see how it performs in real life, we simply don't know. Trust me: whenever we get the Pre, we'll put it through the wringer and see how it stacks up against the competition. But, until then, it's unfair to pick one as the "winner." I won't do it.

Also, here's a thought: Does the Palm Pre really have to beat out the iPhone? Can't it just be about giving customers a choice? Discuss.