Tell me about your experience with the Palm Pre!
August 18, 2009 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Tell me about your experience with the Palm Pre!

I'm trying to decide between the Palm Pre or the iPhone, and have read the posts here. I have an enterprise account at work, and would like to access that, as well as to gmail and other google services (calendar, docs). I use both Macs and Windows OS, but prefer the former.

I currently have Sprint and am very satisfied with the coverage and service overall. I'm willing to switch to ATT. However, the 1500 Min Everything Data Family plan with Sprint is $130/mo, and includes enterprise email service, or so I'm told by Sprint. A comparable ATT plan (1400 Family min + rollover - my wife and I use <1400 min most months) is $175/mo if both my wife and I get an iPhone, but I get the $45 enterprise data plan, she gets the $30 non-enterprise plan.

If we saty with Sprint, my wife would likely keep her current phone and get an iPod touch.

So - is the Palm Pre worth the savings? Of course the comparison is not completely equal, since with ATT both of us would be using smartphones, while staying with Sprint, only I would switch to a smartphone.
posted by cahlers to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Pre's WebOS is great--really smartly designed and a lot easier to use than other smartphones (keeping multiple applications open and running at once with zero trouble and easy to flip between? brilliant!). Syncing with iTunes is also super-convenient. Personally, though, I think it feels flimsy in terms of the plastic it's made of and how the pieces slide together. I considered switching (from my beloved G1--though I seem to have the the minority opinion on that phone) and decided against it because I thought the phone felt too flimsy and there were a few things that really bugged me (certain things about it just don't seem intuitive at all; I found it hard to get used to using it); my husband decided to switch to the Pre and is very happy with it. Definitely see if you can try one out for 30 days (not sure if that's an option for existing customers).
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:07 PM on August 18, 2009

I chose the Pre over the iPhone. I love it.

* Smaller size. The iPhone is a boat, and I'm amazed people have traded up from a RAZR to it.

* Faster web page rendering than even the 3GS -- either on Wi-Fi or 3G networks. The 2G and 3G iPhones are shockingly slow at rendering web pages. Overall interface speed is much faster than the 2G or 3G iPhone, and about the same as the 3GS.

* Physical keyboard. It starts out feeling a little weird and sticky, but the weird coating wears off after a few days.

* Dual ActiveSync. You can sync mail/calendar/contacts to your work Exchange server *and* Google or a personal account somewhere that uses ActiveSync. On the iPhone, you can only sync to one ActiveSync server. I think if more people knew the Pre could do this, they'd get more sales.

* Contact handling. It looks like a giant mess at first, but the Pre merges not only your work Activesync contacts, your Google contacts, your AIM contacts and your Facebook contacts, complete with the little pictures people have in their Facebook profiles and their phone/e-mail information. A half hour of organization, and you'll be amazed. This is part of the "synergy" functions of the Pre, but I don't think people understand just how great this is.

* Multitasking. Listening to Pandora while browsing the web, or messaging in AIM works great.

* Touchstone. The Pre's dock is a work of art. If you hate cables all over your desk, you'll love the Touchstone.

* Multitouch. The Pre's gesture system is as good as the iPhone's or better.

* The Media Player is surprisingly good.

* No jailbreaking. The Pre's developer mode is an open secret, and it's fairly easy to load third-party apps outside of the Pre's app store onto the device.

... and, as you mentioned, Sprint is substantially cheaper than AT&T.

* Games. Pre games right now are of the Checkers/Backgammon/Solitaire variety. Games are where the iPhone really shines, and it's unclear as to whether the Pre will catch up.

* The App Store on the Pre is fairly spartan right now. I hope this changes soon.

* The Pre's slider is pretty fiddly. It's a little hard to open to get to the keyboard, and construction doesn't seem as solid as the iPhone. The iPhone is both a boat and a rock.

* The Pre doesn't offer much configuration of non-ringtone sounds. Your SMS alert is the system default or vibrate, and that's it. (Ringtones for phone calls are freely configurable, though.)

* No CalDAV. No Kindle.

* Apple may break iTunes sync at any time. (But it's easy to get music/movies on and off the phone via straight USB -- so you don't need to use iTunes at all.)

* Nobody thinks you're cool because you have a Pre. The many subtle improvements over the iPhone seem lost on people.
posted by eschatfische at 6:20 PM on August 18, 2009

I waited in line for a Pre on launch day. Two and a half months later, I'm still very happy with it.

Hardware: I definitely don't think it feels flimsy at all. For me, the slider mechanism feels a little loose when the phone is closed, but the mechanism feels nice and tight in action and when the phone is open. Some people have run into problems with the phone "Oreoing" (twisting apart) but I think newer hardware units are more robust in this respect. I like the physical keyboard and its 'gummy' keys; it's pretty much as good as a keyboard can be in such a small form factor. Battery life is no problem for me. I imagine if I surfed the web constantly or listened to MP3s all day away from a power source, I'd have problems with battery life. I have the Touchstone charger so it takes almost no effort on my part to keep the battery topped up on a daily basis: when I get home, I set the Pre on the Touchstone, and when I leave, I pick it up. It's brilliant.

Software: There is some bugginess, especially with the actual phone application. With each new over-the-air WebOS update, the phone gets snappier and more polished. I've enabled homebrew apps on the phone and it greatly increases the useful/fun factors of the phone over what's available in the official Palm app catalog. The web browser is great, the email client is sufficient (swiping away messages to delete them is kinda fun), and the notification system is pretty unobtrusive.
posted by zsazsa at 6:30 PM on August 18, 2009

I waited in line on launch day to. In front of zsazsa. :P

My favorite part is definitely the contacts / calendar integration. I, probably like lots of people, have a google calendar for personal engagements, and an Exchange calendar at work. The fact that they integrate seamlessly is great.

The app catalog is thin, but that's getting better. Palm has been responsive to customer feedback and has released several OS updates, over the air, for free; e.g., battery life has improved. So I think that it's a good phone already, but it's also improving as people write apps and as Palm improves the OS.
posted by aubilenon at 7:53 PM on August 18, 2009

If you end up deciding to switch carriers, I'd recommend making sure your AT&T coverage is decent. That played a big factor in my decision to switch from an iPhone (I had a 2G and a 3G) to the Palm Pre. (In the cities that I'm in, particularly SF and LA, Sprint is considerably better than AT&T. It's a tossup in NYC)

The iPhone (particularly having played w/ the 3GS) is better than the Pre, however, I'm happy enough with the Pre as my primary phone (and like it better than the G2 [TMobile myTouch3G] I have).

iPhone pros:
* lots more, better apps
* gmaps significantly better
* much more responsive, generally better polished ui
* better battery life
* syncs better w/ your computer
* virtual keyboard - less accurate, but you get emoji! plus, often more convenient for quick/1handed typing
* ironically, much better universal search and copy and paste (two much touted pre features)

Pre pros:
* syncs better w/ google
* unified inbox
* non-modal notifications that don't steal focus!
* cards, ui are great (when not laggy)
* multitasking
* synergy is nice (synced addressbooks), although experience is somewhat offset by shoddy autocomplete
* homebrew friendly

I ended up getting an extended battery, which adds even more to the depth and makes it *very* chunky (it's already chunkier than the iPhone to start with), but on the flip side, have been much happier since I can now get a full day's use.

Right now, the thing that's really been bugging me the most about the Pre is the overall "snappiness" - launching and switching to apps seems to intermittently (but inevitably?) bog down. While photo browsing is improved, navigating folder for music/folders is way pokey. Also, the dialer sometimes lags out while answering or making calls, leading to all kinds of hijinks... (the last thing is just on the border of unacceptable...)

Like zsazsa mentioned, the OTA updates have been nice - 1.1 was a significant improvement on some of the worst issues, so the hope is that the s/w niggles will get better, but the iPhone is a significantly more polished and pleasant experience, which nothing out there matches, assuming you're OK w/ switching carriers and accepting some other limitations (multitasking, modal notifications).

On Sprint, I still think the Pre is the best choice, unless you're focused on messaging/calling, in which case you'll want to take a look at the Blackberries (very snappy, crazy good battery life, great build quality, hw keyboard. trade off: ugly UI and even uglier fonts, and a crap browser and the least interesting app ecosystem)
posted by lhl at 8:14 PM on August 18, 2009

* No CalDAV.

The workaround for this (that I just discovered before seeing your question) is to sync iCal with your Google Calendar which, in turn, syncs with the Pre.

I had been living with haphazard contact solutions (google, un-synced phone, Facebook, and random CSV files) and the Pre concatenated them all nicely.
posted by GPF at 9:31 PM on August 18, 2009

I have an iPhone, but I used/tested a Pre for a week. My thoughts:

- The Pre felt great in my hand as a phone. It definitely made my iPhone feel clunky. But once I was use to the iPhone again, it felt fine. In other words, the iPhone felt clunky after using the Pre, but that feeling went away after a while.

- The Pre, however, felt cheap to me compared to the iPhone. The finish was definitely subpar, and the keyboard wasn't as nice as I had hoped. I don't baby my iPhone, and it felt like I should the Pre. It almost felt like a toy, and before anyone thinks I'm being unfair, I'm not the first person to make that comparison.

- Having multiple applications open at the same time was wonderful. Having the phone bog down with open apps wasn't. I'm sure if I had used it longer I would have figured out how many apps were doable.

- For the most part, the OS worked great, and in several areas, out did the iPhone. I don't think that's surprising, as they had a while to look at the iPhone and decide how to make it better.

Knowing all that, and pricing aside, I never thought of ditching the iPhone. Reasons?

- I rarely use a PC. I like macs. I like iCal, and Mail, and iPhoto. The iPhone, naturally, works well with my mac. If I used gmail (the web interface) only, and gcal, and that wouldn't be as important.

- The app store is awesome. Lots of junk yes, but really great apps that make my iPhone much more useful are also cheaply available. Will the Pre catch up in this department? Who knows. It's certainly no guarantee.

- For that matter, Palm isn't the most stable company in the world. I hope the Pre helps them recover. Competition is good. But no one knows what the future holds for Palm, and I don't want to have to jump ship because of lack of support. Apple is certainly the more sure thing at this point.

- The iPhone, and understandably so, feels more polished at this point, while the Pre shows great promise, but rough edges.

Other notes:

- ATT is hated by many. For me, 3g is everywhere. Others aren't so lucky. If 3g was a problem for me, I might look at the Pre again.

- Someone mentioned free updates. Not a plus. So does the iPhone. And my 3g only lacks a few features of the 3gs. That's important to me. I don't want to change phones every 6 months to keep it from being obsolete.

Here's an article that summarizes a lot of reviews of the Pre/iPhone debate.

And here's an article on customer satisfaction.

A few more notes:

- They're both great phones, as you can see from the survey. You're going to be happy with either one. So if money, or a contract is the difference, go with the difference.

- People who have bought the Pre have taken the road less traveled. There was either something about the iPhone they didn't like (price, ATT, Apple) or they simply like to go for the underdog. So I don't think most people are going to tell you that they're unhappy, because they got what they wanted, and they want to believe they made the right choice. So I think asking if Pre users are happy doesn't gain you much. Asking for negatives and positives does.

Again, both great phones.

Smaller size. The iPhone is a boat, and I'm amazed people have traded up from a RAZR to it.

Bizarre comment. Yes, the razr is small. It's also a crappy, useless piece of garbage phone. The iPhone basically replaces my laptop most days.

I'm guessing you just misspoke. At least, I hope.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 11:00 PM on August 18, 2009

I've been very satisfied with the Pre so far. Palm seems much more willing to let people tinker with it than Apple is with the iPhone, but I'm sure there's no guarantee that will continue in the future. Once people got tethering working on the phone, I think the most they did was issue a statement saying, "Please don't do that, Sprint will get mad."

Price was definitely a factor when I chose it. I get a small discount on the plan through work, and with that it ends up being about as much as my voice-only plan on AT&T for the same number of minutes. And text messaging is included in the data plan on Sprint!

The synchronization capabilities are really where the device shines, in my opinion. It's pretty nice to be able to put an appointment in the phone and then load Google Calender on my computer and see it on the screen there.

The device does feel a little flimsy - many people have complained about the "Oreo" effect, where the top half is able to rotate slightly relative to the bottom half, like twisting an Oreo apart. I've noticed it on mine, but it's really nothing more than a minor annoyance. The little silver button on the screen also really doesn't seem to serve much purpose.

Palm has stated that the app catalog is going to open up mid-September, I think. In the meantime, there are only a handful of apps available. They dropped the ball a little bit in not releasing the SDK sooner, but it seems to me that there's a large homebrew community right now and the transition to getting many of those apps in the store shouldn't be huge.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:00 AM on August 19, 2009

hmm... only tangentially related, but no mentions of the Pre emerging on Verizon network by 2010?

The Sprint "lock" expires after 6mos...

Not that I'm a huge fan of Verizon, but it does have a better data infrastructure (as reported in much of the smartphone press)... tho I'm sure i'll be told I'm wrong.

I am waiting until end of year myself to consider changing to Pre on Verizon (knew everyone wanted to know this).
posted by Jiff_and_theChoosyMuthers at 8:37 AM on August 19, 2009

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