Palm Pre Plus review: first look
After all the hype over webOS and the Palm Pre last year, we were pretty disappointed when we finally got our hands on a device. It was poorly made, plasticky, the keyboard surround was sharp enough to cut cheese with, and the battery life was, quite simply, ropey. Well, now Palm has released the follow up – the Palm Pre Plus.
As you can see from the picture, not an awful lot has changed. It’s still using the same, plasticky chassis with a sliding Qwerty keyboard that pops out from underneath the display. And still it doesn’t feel as luxurious as its flagship smartphone rivals – notably the iPhone 3GS and HTC Desire. The screen retains the same size and resolution – 3.1in and 320 x 480 – the keyboard looks very similar, and the camera is identical too.
There are some differences, though. The button has been removed from below the screen, to be replaced by a larger touch-sensitive gesture area. A small LED lights up when you swipe left, right or tap to launch the multitasking card view.
Less obvious, but more critical, is an improved sliding mechanism: with the Plus you can now drag the screen down with your thumb without it getting stuck halfway. The keyboard is less recessed than before (an essential improvement) and Palm claims, has slightly clickier keys.
There’s also now double the storage – 16GB compared to 8GB – and an extra dose of what Palm calls “processor memory”. Essentially, this enables you to have more applications, or “cards” as Palm calls them, running simultaneously than before.
And the back of the phone is now inductive; you no longer need to replace it to use the Touchstone wireless charger, although you still have to stump up extra for the charger itself.
And that, erm, is about it.
When asked about the introduction of Google Maps Navigation, or some other form of free voice-guided satnav, Palm was reluctant to say anything.
When quizzed about battery life, which was poor in the original Palm Pre Plus, the only sop that was offered was that Palm’s over-the-air updates were constantly delivering tweaks to help. Our first 17 hours with it, during which we did precisely nothing apart from synchronise email, drained it of 28% of its juice, which doesn’t bode well.
The number of apps available via Palm’s App Catalog remains pitifully thin. Despite a year in the wild, there are fewer than 1,400 apps available to download, only a third of which are free.
And, finally, the additional processor memory doesn’t appear to have improved performance. Although the browser remains responsive, UI animations and transitions stutter like an arthritic granny getting up to make the tea.
On first viewing, then, the Palm Pre Plus looks a disappointment. Let’s just hope that the Pixi Plus – the candybar form factor alternative launched at the same time – is a little more exciting. Look out for full reviews of both devices in the next few weeks.
Oh, and by the way, it’s still sharp enough to cut a block of cheese.
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