Palm Pre 2 review

Price when reviewed

Everyone raved about webOS when it first appeared at the start of 2009, but it hasn’t had a major update until now. The Palm Pre 2 uses webOS 2, and while it isn’t a radical overhaul, it does come with a few rather nifty extras.

First on the list is improved multitasking. Cards (as Palm calls tasks) from the same application are grouped together in the multitasking view. If you have five web pages open at the same time, you can see them fanned out like a hand of cards. Likewise, an email composition appears stacked on top of the reading view.

We love the way the Pre 2 takes proper multitasking and makes it easy to manage, and while Android has steadily become more complicated, webOS 2 has resisted the urge to pile option upon option. If ease of use is the order of the day, only iOS can compare. And for sheer speed it matches the fastest phones here, loading the BBC homepage in eight seconds and completing the SunSpider benchmark in six seconds.

WebOS 2 also adds an improved browser with support for Flash 10.1, opening up the possibility of watching embedded news and sports videos on the BBC website, playing games and viewing Flash-based graphics in all their glory.

Don’t expect desktop-style performance, however. Although the Pre 2 can display Flash content, videos more often than not looked choppy, and applications and games were sluggish not to mention fiddly in operation.

The big issue with the Palm Pre 2, however, is that the hardware upgrades aren’t nearly as impressive. The overall quality of the device is better than the Pre’s first outing, with a flat, capacitive touchscreen on the front and a good solid feel to the build. But the 320 x 480 resolution of the screen is low for a flagship device such as this.

The camera is poor; fixed focus just doesn’t cut it these days, and it shows in the soft quality of the pictures. Palm still hasn’t got rid of the sharp edges surrounding the keyboard, which dig into your thumbs as you type.

And battery life, although marginally better than before, doesn’t compare with the best either. After our 24-hour test, we measured just 30% on the gauge.

The Pre 2 is a pleasant phone to use, don’t get us wrong, but it needs to do more than that in the cut throat smartphone world.

Palm’s selection of apps remains paltry next to the rest, and the hardware is slowly being left behind – perhaps that’s why it’s yet to be picked up by any of the networks. If you want one you’ll have to pay £340 for a SIM free handset, and we wouldn’t advise anyone does that.

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 5hrs
Standby, quoted 14 days 14hrs


Dimensions 59.6 x 17 x 100.8mm (WDH)
Weight 145g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard Physical

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes


Screen size 3.1in
Resolution 320 x 480
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes


OS family webOS

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