The update to Palm’s much-lauded Pre handset has been a long time coming, but at last the Palm Pre Plus is here. But with the smartphone landscape greatly changed over the past six months, the Pre Plus has a lot to do to prove itself a worthy contender.
What we like
We’d settle down and have babies with that screen if it was at all possible. It’s got looks, it’s got speed and it feels real good – there’s almost a bit of give in it, like a touchscreen pillow. Aaaah.
Without wanting to sound too much like a lecherous old man, we really like the Palm Pre Plus’s curves too – the pebble shape of the handset means it sits really nicely in the hand. The design has been updated a little from the original Palm Pre, gone is the silver track pad, replaced by an invisible gesture pad below the screen. It’s all a little more grown up.
The Pre Plus is still streets ahead of the iPhone for multi-tasking. It arranges your open applications nicely in a floating menu over the home screen, and barely loses any of its zippiness even with three or four things running.
Although we’re fans of the screen’s and had no trouble with its responsiveness, we’re glad that the Pre Plus has a separate slide-out Qwerty keyboard for more convenient typing of longer messages and emails.
Other touches we like are the inclusion of a pouch with the handset – more handsets should come with these since the screen has become such a big feature. And we really love the convenience of sorting our emails by date and sender etc – a little thing that makes a big difference if you’re using the handset for a lot of email activity.
The music player is very good looking – it’s nice to see some real thought has gone into it. Sound quality is fair, and we like being able to swipe through tracks rather than having to press the fast-forward or rewind buttons.
What we don’t like
Battery life is quite poor – we didn’t get much more than a day from a full charge.
Watch out for the scarily sharp edges on the slide-out keyboard panel, they’re quite uncomfortable on the soft parts of your hands that naturally rest on them. Speaking of the keyboard, we’d prefer it to be slightly more spacious. Those tiny keys might present problems for the large-handed among us.
Although the Pre Plus whips along very nicely once it’s in the swing of things, it can be a little slow to start up. The handset also gets very hot when used intensely and this seemed to lead to crashes. It’s not clear if these problems were a fault just with our handset, or if it’s a wider problem with the Pre Plus.
Although the WebOS app store has grown a lot since the release of the orignal Palm Pre, the apps tend to be more expensive than those on the Android Market and Apple App Store. Great apps are also few and far between, so if apps are a deal-breaker for you, the Palm Pre Plus is going to disappoint. In a way, it's just as well that you can't download too many apps, as you're limited to 15GB of internal memory, lacking as the Palm Pre Plus is in the microSD department.
Although we love the design, the Pre Plus does still retain that plastic-y feel we noted on the original Palm Pre, so if you’re after something that looks a bit more industrial we’d probably point you in the direction of the HTC Legend.
We really like using the Palm Pre Plus – it is fast, it’s nice to hold and it generally worked well. But when compared to the recent flock of smartphones like the HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson X10 and the Google Nexus One, the Pre Plus is beginning to lag behind.
We'd like to see Palm catch up with a bigger screen, expandable memory and more good quality apps - but if these aren't elements that are important to you then we have no qualms about recommending the Palm Pre Plus.