Palm Pre review

Barry de la Rosa
16 Nov 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
on a £29-per-month, 18-month contract

The Pre is interesting but flawed: it has some amazing features but is let down by a slow processor, poor battery life and software quirks.



webOS, 3.1in 320x480 display

Palm's Pre is a stylish lozenge of a phone with a minimalist look.

It has a single button under the screen, but there's little else to interrupt its smooth, rounded edges. Open it up, though, and there's a full QWERTY keypad with raised keys that make typing easy. There's 8GB of internal memory, but no memory card slot.

Palm's webOS supports multi-tasking, so after opening an application, you can press the home button to shrink it to a 'card'. You can flick through open applications this way, or simply flick one upwards and off the screen to close it. To go back, you swipe right-to-left under the screen. The system is incredibly easy to learn and makes keeping track of multiple apps a breeze.

WebOS imports your contacts from Facebook, Exchange, Google and LinkedIn and lets you seem them all in one interface. The same system applies to email, messaging and calendars. You can search the entire contents of the phone simply by typing, and if no results are found, it suggests sites to search.

The 3.2-megapixel camera takes acceptable photos, and the flash helps in low light. Sadly there's no video mode. Colours were great, but noise was visible in dark areas and the resolution isn't high enough to reduce the effects of JPEG compression. Palm's App Catalog isn't as comprehensive as Apple's App Store or the Android Market, but there seems to be enough interest in the new phone to encourage developers to create more content.

The menu for each app is located in the top-left corner of the screen, and is incredibly easy to miss. While the main screen and menu feel smooth, the device can be slow to react once a few apps are open, and its battery life is poor. The slide mechanism feels clunky and fragile and, when extended, the edges of the keypad are quite sharp. Finally, the USB port cover is hard to remove.

The Pre and webOS are a great effort at creating a more intuitive smartphone, but as with many first-generation products, there's still a way to go. We hope to see more Palm models in the future that improve on the Pre, but there are better phones at this price.




Main display size3.1in
Native resolution320x480
Second DisplayNo
CCD effective megapixels3.2-megapixel
Video recording formatN/A
ConnectivityBluetooth, WiFi, USB
Internal memory8192MB
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/1900/2100
Wireless dataEDGE, HSDPA


Operating systemwebOS
Microsoft Office compatibilityWord/Excel/PowerPoint/PDF viewers
Email clientPOP3/IMAP/Exchange
Audio format supportMP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR, QCELP, WAV
Video playback formatsMPEG-4, H.263, H.264
FM Radiono
Web BrowserWebkit
Accessoriesheadset, data cable, charger, pouch
Talk time5 hours
Standby time12.5 days
Tested battery life (MP3 playback)8h 27m

Buying Information

Price on contract£97 on a £29-per-month,18-month contract
SIM-free supplierN/A

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