I’ve had a long history with smartphones dating back to 1997 when I worked on the Qualcomm pDQ, the first Palm OS based smartphone. Later down the line, I used a Samsung i330, Palm Tungsten W, Treo 180, VisorPhone, Treo 300, BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry 8300 (something like that), BlackBerry 8830, Treo 755p, Treo 700W, iPhone, iPhone 3G, and now a Palm Pre. For me, the Treo 180 was a huge step forward in phones despite the black and white screen and cheap construction. When I started using an iPhone almost 2 years ago, I was blown away with how well it worked, but couldn’t make it my main phone that I carried with me all the time. It simply was too big to fit in my pocket and was on a network with mediocre voice and data service. My opinion of the iPhone hasn’t changed much since then; it runs an amazing operating system and can do amazing things, but it isn’t the phone for me. In addition to the network issues, I wasn’t a big fan of the on-screen keyboard.
Last week I got a Palm Pre and within hours, I was a convert and was ready to ditch the iPhone. So what made me so enamored with the Pre? A number of things including better voice quality, lightning fast data network, physical keyboard, small size, very easy to use multitasking (more on this later), and the integration of the multiple email, messaging, calendars, and contacts.
When the iPhone SDK came out and said it didn’t support background tasks, I said, who cares about background tasks? The Pre’s implementation of multitasking is simply amazing; being able to see everything running via cards is a great way to handle multitasking (messaging, calendar, and email still runs, however). In addition, last year I said that navigation on a phone was just awful; Sprint Navigation on the Pre has changed my mind (at least made me re-consider it). I used navigation today and the spoken voice was clear, had great pronunciation, routed quickly, and got me there on the first try. OK, I didn’t make a mistake, so I didn’t test how quickly it re-routed.
So having used the Pre for about a week, here’s my summary.
- Compact size fits in my front pocket.
- Excellent voice quality.
- Fast data network.
- Multitasking with cards is easy to use and clear. (I listened to Pandora at the same time I had Sprint Navigation running on a drive today; something I couldn’t do on an iPhone.)
- Physical keyboard is ease to use.
- Connects to iTunes to sync music.
- No desktop sync for calendars/contacts needed. (Direct Google and Exchange syncing.)
- Multiple Exchange account support (iPhone does 1 Exchange account).
- No voice control.
- Battery life could be improved.
- Device is a little sluggish at times.
- Some bugs with the software such as turning off GPS required a restart to get it going again and it is only syncing 1 calendar off our Zimbra server.
- Charging connector is a little tough to use (I need to get a Touchstone charger).
- No VPN support.
- No generic jabber client support (the messaging client is based on libpurple and supports jabber as Google Talk is jabber, but you can’t use a generic jabber account).
Is this the perfect phone? Of course not, there is no such thing as a perfect phone. Right now I’m down from 3 phones to 2 (I had my personal Motorola RAZR, a Sanyo Pro 700, and an iPhone; now I’ve the Pre and my RAZR). I know that there aren’t a lot of applications for the Pre, but I’m sure they’ll be coming along. The iPhone and Pre will be head to head for awhile. Everyone has a different opinion on phones; for now, I think that the Pre will be a good phone for me. What will next year bring? I have no idea.