It has been just over a year since Palm unveiled webOS and the Palm Pre. Initially, the Pre was exclusive to Sprint and that led many consumers to be hesitant of purchasing the phone. However, at CES Palm outed their plan to bring a updated version of the Pre to a new carrier. At that moment, the Palm Pre Plus was born on Verizon Wireless.
The Palm Pre Plus brought a few hardware improvements over its Sprint counterpart. With double the internal memory, the Pre Plus should now be able to handle more tasks at once without a system slowdown. The device also seems to be a bit more sturdy.
The Palm Pre Plus is a pretty solid device when looking at the hardware. A major complaint of the Sprint Palm Pre was the build quality, but it seems that Palm has made some improvement with the Pre Plus. There does not seem to be any hesitation when sliding the phone open to reveal the keyboard. When open, the screen does not seem to move or wiggle which is always a concern with phones that have this design.
One of our concerns when we played with the Pre Plus at CES with the small keyboard size. The keys are small and there is not too much space designated for the keyboard. Once we got to played with the device we found that it wasn’t so bad. At times when we were typing fast, our thumbs would be fighting for a spot in the middle of the keyboard. Another thing we noticed is how the space bar did not click as much as we had hoped. When it came down to it, we were able to typed on the keyboard with no problem, but it is was not our favorite keyboard.
The Palm Pre Plus has a 3.1-inch touch screen that really shines. The 24-bit color and 320×480 resolution, the display is really vibrant and is very crisp. The screen supports multitouch so it is easy to zoom in and out of applications as needed. When the phone is in action, it is very responsive to gestures and clicks. Directly below the screen there is a LED that replaces the physical home button on the original Palm Pre. By sliding your finger over this LED, there are numerous navigational functions that can be accessed.
Our biggest complaint of the Palm Pre Plus was the battery life. With normal to heavy use, the battery wouldn’t last us the whole day. We could actually see the percent meter going down as we were using applications. Even when we left the phone sitting there with no use at all, the battery was pretty much dead at the end of the second day.
The Palm Pre Plus has a 3 megapixel camera which is pretty standard for a basic smartphone. The camera comes with a LED flash for low-light environments and has extended depth of field. Our experience with the Pre Plus was nothing special and seemed to be in line with most other 3-megapixel cameras. You can check out our pictures below.
webOS has been around for over a year and has finally made its way to Verizon’s network. When comparing it to Palm’s old OS, or even the old Windows Mobile, it is really an improvement. Later this month webOS will be getting an update that will bring along Flash and video recording. We are really excited to give that a try and see how it works with webOS. The main focus of webOS is to bring along “synergy” to the device it runs on. Synergy brings your contacts and calendars from all different sources, including Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Outlook, into one single list. Synergy also combines all conversations with a single contact into one window. This means if you are talking to Justin Cauchon on text and AIM, it will all show up in the same window to make it easy to respond back.
Navigating around webOS is pretty simple and straight-forward. Pressing the up arrow on the home screen will bring up the main menu that has all the options you would need. Clicking on the application icon will load up the app for use. Tapping on the area below the screen will make the application a “card” and allow you to open up another application or make a call. Multitasking on the Pre Plus is done really well and it is easy to keep a bunch of applications open at once without too much of a slowdown. Palm doubled the RAM on the Pre Plus so it should run better than the original Pre when having a lot of apps open at once. To get rid of a app, just tap on the area below the screen and slide the card up. We thought that this was a cool way to multitasking and making a UI.
The web browser on the Pre Plus was impressive. It rendered web pages like they would look on the computers and looked very clear. When we compared the loading speeds with the iPhone 3G (on AT&T’s 3G network), the pages usually finished at the same time as the iPhone. Zooming in and out is as easy as double tapping or letting your fingers do the work. We are really excited about the webOS 1.4 update that is going to bring Flash because that will really put the browser above most other phones.
Without a doubt, our favorite feature on the Palm Pre Plus is the new Mobile Hotspot app. The Mobile Hotspot app will make your device into a wireless hotspot and allow up to five devices to connect to it through Wi-Fi. It uses the Verizon network’s 3G to give internet to those devices. Using this app is so simple that even the most basic user could figure out. This is great for those people who don’t want to get a MiFi device, but still wants a wireless hotspot. Verizon is charging another $40 a month for 5GB of use, but that is still lower than the $60 you would pay with a aircard or MiFi. The only downside to the Mobile Hotspot app is it is a real battery hog, so if you are going to be using this often make sure to carry around a spare charger.
The App Catalog has a lot more apps than it did when it launched on the original Pre. There is now a wide variety of applications available for all different uses. While it is not as big as the Apple app store, it does get the job done. Navigation around the App Catalog is easy because users can explore all the apps, see recently added apps. or see the popular apps. Once you find the app you want, it is easy to download and use right away.
The Palm Pre Plus is a real neat device that brings webOS to the Verizon network. The device brings Synergy for easy communicating all in one device. There are some improvements on the way with webOS 1.4, but there is still room for more improvement. The battery life on this device is an issue that needs to be fixed or the users will not be happy. We think that the Pre Plus has potential to be a great device with the unique features like Mobile Hotspot and a great web browser.