Real life kept me away from blogging for a few days but it also gave me the opportunity to spend more time with the Palm Pre. It's been noted elsewhere that maybe folks shouldn't compare the Pre to the iPhone but I think the comparison is valid given that Sprint wants to market this as a smart phone, not just a smart phone for people not as focused on the entertainment value of their device as they are the practical aspects of it.
My job actually lets me mix both the frivolous and the practical...there are times when I have to visit various job sites or potential job sites and take stealth photos (read: Photos with my phone while making it look like I'm not taking photos). So while many people think a camera on a cell phone is an unnecessary luxury, I don't happen to be one of them.
Imagine my disappointment, then, when from the first moment I tried using the camera function on my Palm Pre, I couldn't. I was convinced I was doing something wrong. The very few pages of "directions" that come with the phone didn't say I had to do anything special to activate the phone but I felt like I was missing something. I found the camera icon, tapped it and got a gray screen with another camera icon on it. It just looked so official that I convinced myself I was missing some important instruction on how to get the camera to work. So I started surfing the web and doing searches for any variation of "Palm Pre Camera Instructions" and came up with nothing more than "Find the camera icon and tap it" so I was happy to find it wasn't me. But it took a bit more deeper digging to find that other people were having this same issue with their Palm Pre right out of the box.
To say I wasn't happy is a bit of an understatement. Had I actually paid for this phone, I would have been on the phone to Sprint ranting like a madwoman. Anything I found online about this issue ended the same way - with the consumer being told that the only way to "fix" the problem was by replacing the entire unit. Had I paid for this phone and had I ditched any other phone I had just to be stuck with a phone I had to send away to be exchanged, I would have made quite the stink. Instead, I reset it, kept it off for a while, did a bunch of other things I hoped would shake it out of its dormancy...but nothing worked.
I finally contacted the kind folks at CNET who bestowed the phone upon me in the first place and they contacted Sprint. I was left with the understanding that the unit would be replaced...and that was a week ago. My CNET contacts seem to still be waiting for Sprint to respond (My understanding was the phone would be replaced but the last message I got from CNET didn't give me much hope that would be the case. That being on Sprint, not CNET).
For me, it's a free phone. I have no right to demand any kind of action and I get that. But as a person reviewing this phone I'm left to wonder what kind of customer service Sprint offers? I haven't found hundreds of people complaining about this issue but it's obviously not just something limited to me. That's disappointing. What's the matter with keeping a product off the market until you know all the bugs - at least the major ones (and I consider the camera not working a major bug) - are out?
I had hoped, in an effort to fully and fairly test this phone, that I could relinquish the phone I currently use and go a month using only the Palm Pre. But the lack of camera and my worry that if the camera problem is there what else could be lurking, forces me to go around with two phones these days. And once gets a lot more use than the other.
Just to give folks a better understanding of the camera issues, I offer the video below. After days of just the camera icon showing up, one day, without warning, I actually got the camera screen. Only one problem. You still can't take a picture. Take a gander at the video and you'll see what I mean!