iPhone 3.0 vs. Palm Pre: Which One Should You Buy?

iphone_palm_pre_ufc

iPhone 3.0 (and maybe hardware version 3 as well?) vs. Palm Pre. This summer, that's the question many would-be-smartphone purchasers just might be asking themselves. Both have their pros and cons. The iPhone has a huge profile and market presence, but the Pre has the old-school Palm faithful who have been waiting a long time for their Next Big Thing. The iPhone has massive channels and even Sprint admits they won't be advertising the Palm Pre much due to low initial supply. But those most likely to want the Palm Pre already know it's coming, where to get, and may well be reading this while already standing in line.

But what about the consumer on the edge? The consumer who has an older iPhone or Palm, or the one who's about to move up from a feature phone for the first time. What about the dreaded "undecided"? This article is for them. And, yeah, we're an iPhone blog, so make sure you head on over to our sister-site PreCentral.net. They'll keep us honest and make sure you get a full, fair representation so you can make an informed decision.

Now let's get it on... after the break!

Keyboard

For some, the comparison will end right here. Palm Pre has a physical, hardware-based QWERTY keyboard while the iPhone has a virtual, software-based keyboard that can be QWERTY (or anything else).

For those who need to feel those keys, the Palm Pre is the obvious choice. However, the Pre's keyboard is reportedly somewhere between a Treo Pro and a Palm Centro: softer, more gummy keys with a narrow width overall. It might not be to everyone's liking. That said, at least the Pre has one, and it's a slider to boot, which means if you don't need it, you can just tuck it away back under the screen where it came from.

The iPhone, on the other hand, can draw any kind of keyboard it wants. So if you need to type occasionally (or often) in Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, or most any language, you can easily switch between those exact keyboards. You can also automagically be presented with web-optimized, or video, audio -- any task at all -- specific keyboards. Versatile if not tactile. And if you have joint problems or repetitive stress injuries, being able to touch instead of press can be literally just what the doctor ordered.

Personally, I'm better with the iPhone keyboard than I've ever been with a Palm or any other physical keyboard. But I realize I'm in the minority on this one.

Advantage: Palm Pre


Network

In the US -- which is the only country with initial availability -- Sprint has exclusive rights to the Palm Pre, much as AT&T has a lock on the iPhone. If you don't get Sprint or AT&T in your neck of the woods, you're in for an easy choice. Likewise, if only one or the other provides high speed data -- EVDO Rev A for Sprint and HSPA for AT&T -- that might be a huge factor in your decision. Think of it like broadband vs. dial up. You want fast. And if you're international, well Canada/Bell is rumored for August and everyone else is waiting to see.

Assuming you're in the US and have roughly equal access to, and speed on, both networks, which one has the edge? (No pun intended!) Giving both carriers the customer service benefit of the doubt (you may have cause to hate either one, or both), there's still two factors to consider:

  1. AT&T is a GSM network, which means you can theoretically pop out your SIM card and put it in another mobile phone. Great in emergencies and if you travel and don't want to deal with roaming charges (though the latter depends entirely on you being willing and able to unlock your iPhone -- not something everyone does or wants to do). Sprint is CDMA, so any phone switches involves a call to your carrier at the very least.

  2. Sprint doesn't currently allow simultaneous voice and data. This means if you're talking on the Palm Pre, you can't use the web or email, and vice versa. If you're using an iPhone on AT&T's EDGE service, you'll have the same problem, but if you're on 3G, there are no worries at all. For the Palm Pre, you'd have to switch to Wi-Fi to do that.

Again, for me, using voice and data at the same time has become a must. Looking up information while out and about on a call is a frequent occurrence. If you're not accustomed to it, you may not miss it, but once you are, it's hard to go back. If everything else is a wash, that alone carries some weight.

Advantage: iPhone


Cloud Support

The "cloud", or online environment is the next big thing. We've only been told that going on a decade. Thing is, it might finally be coming true. Connectivity is ubiquitous enough, bandwidth fast enough, storage cheap enough, and social networking hot enough that everyone and their startup seems to be rolling out an online service.

Google, the undisputed king of the clouds, has their own Android platform, but they share their love equally around the mobile space. Pretty much every device is assured access to Google search, Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and the rest of their services.

Apple and the iPhone leverage Google well, add in basic business support for Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync, provide their own MobileMe service for the "rest of us", and support the FaceBooks, LinkedIns, Twitters, and other networks through well made WebApps and 3rd party native applications. Good stuff.

Palm calls the Pre's foundation webOS, however, and they mean it. The Palm Pre doesn't just hook into the above mentioned services and networks, it provides a feature called Synergy which is supposed to automagically pull all your data from them, merge it together seamlessly, and provide you with a single, unified view of your contacts, calendars, and messages. Great stuff.

If you prefer local apps and like to keep your data separate -- and some certainly do -- the iPhone might be the closest you can come to that rich client experience. If you want to live in the clouds, however, the Palm Pre is blazing your path.

Advantage: Palm Pre


Ecosystem

From the clouds back down to earth. No device exists in a vacuum. Most smartphone owners also have a computer. Maybe an MP3 player, an HD TV, and a variety other software and hardware. How do these factor in?

Palm once offered computer integration via Palm Desktop, which at this point could politely be considered abandonware, especially on the Mac side. 3rd parties have done an admirable job filling the void, but it's clear with the Pre that Palm is looking -- as we just described -- to the clouds. That's great for those aspects, but what if you have large music or video collections you want to carry around with you on your mobile? Pre will have Amazon MP3, and you'll be able to tether it via USB for disk-mode drag-and-drop, but we don't know yet what else -- if anything -- will round this out.

With the iPhone, you have Apple's 360 degree product integration to work with. You can produce or acquire content on the Mac, sync that content via iTunes on the Mac or PC, and move it -- with full bookmarking -- to the iPhone, iPods, or Apple TV. And you can go to the Apple Store if you need help learning how to do any of the above, and more. This means you can start watching a movie on your LCD, sync and keep watching it from that exact same moment on your iPhone, then get home, sync again, and finish it pretty much seamlessly on your PC.

The Palm Pre is new and liberating in the sense that if you're starting fresh, with no ties to Apple, Microsoft's Xbox or Zune, Sony's system, or anyone else's it might be just what you wanted. Likewise if you have no love or interest in iTunes or iPods.

If you prefer integrated product lines, however, if you use iPods or have a media-centric life of any kind, then it's hard not to give the nod to Apple on this one.

Advantage: iPhone


Applications

This one is a slam dunk for Apple and the iPhone, right? Not so fast! Sure, the iPhone has 35,000+ applications in the App Store, brilliant and terrible both. 1 billion downloads is nothing to sneeze at either. After all, Apple re-invented mobile software by putting one little icon on their home screen that gave instant access to tens of thousands of additional icons for every single one of their 15 million+ users (30 million+ if we count iPod touch as well). That's a juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination. Based on the same, objective Cocoa superset of C, and using the same Xcode developer tools that Mac programmers are already familiar with, it gave the iPhone immediate access to just the type of design-conscious, experience-oriented developers Apple values. This has lead to great social network tools, awesome utilities, and games gorgeous enough to give Nintendo the night sweats. (And no, we're not mentioning fart apps) Sounds like it would be impossible for anyone to catch up?

Palm has legacy applications, however, and in a stroke of genius, they commissioned a Classic app that will virtuamulate (not sure of the exact technology at work there) the old PalmOS giving many (though not all) of those old apps new life. In a stroke of far greater genius, Palm based their new webOS on existing web-based technologies including HTML, CSS, and Javascript (AJAX if you prefer). Since the Palm Pre will run these locally rather than in the cloud the way WebApps do, they're closer akin to "widgets" (or "objects" for you Vista fans) but go one step further by hooking into many of the Pre-specific hardware features as well -- like the phone. Cocoa may be tasty but it's user base is tiny compared to how many people already know web application development. Combine the PalmOS back catalog with the ease of widget-style deployment and you just may have a contender.

One more thing: while the iPhone only allows Apple's apps to background multitask, Palm Pre's "card" feature allows for (around a dozen or so?) apps of all kinds -- 1st and 3rd party -- to stay open, live, and instantly accessible. Sure, iPhone 3.0 will mitigate this slightly with Push Notifications and rumors of next-generation hardware maybe supporting, but Palm Pre does it for real and does it now.

This one is tough to call. Already huge vs. potentially huge marketplace. The multitasking spear vs. the native app hammer. Which one has the advantage here will depend entirely on what's more important to you. We're wussing out.

Advantage: Tie


Conclusion

So there you have it. Two companies that both pride themselves on uber-tight hardware and software integration. One who's Newton spawned an industry that the other's Pilot defined and dominated, went on to converge with the Treo only to fall behind and get eclipsed by the iPhone, and is now poised to come back with the Pre. Apple's going on to the third version of their smartphone line while Palm is introducing the first version of their third act (Palm OS and Windows Mobile being the previous two).

If it seems like the only real deciding factors are where you live and work, what you want to do, and how you prefer to do it, well -- yeah. That's it. You're an adult and we're not going to butter your bread, thank you. (Though we've done our best to describe that bread to ya in advance).

Bottom line, the competition between iPhone and Pre is good for Apple and Palm -- it keeps them on their toes and on top of their games -- and it's better for us. We're lucky to live in a time and place where we have such increasingly awesome mobile options to choose between.

Come this summer, we'll have a few more choices as well. Which one will be yours?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone 3.0 vs. Palm Pre: Which One Should You Buy?

96 Comments

Very good comparison!
I was unaware of how competitive they both will be.
I side with the report that the Pre will impact sales that would have gone to BB. The iPhone will continue to dominate where service is offered.

Being a die-hard Apple fan and an iPhone fanantic, it brings me great pain to have to admit that I truly feel that the Pre is going to be a better phone (pending no major dissapointments relative to what's been described)... You touched on a lot of those in this article, but two of the biggest things that the iPhone lacks, the Pre makes up for-- backgrounding and Synergy...
Again, I love my iPhone and all things Apple, but Steve and his crew need to step up their game rather quickly I feel. If marketed right (which I don't think it will be), the Pre could truly be the "iPhone killer."

lol the pre is such a joke. Copy the iphone and sell it in a tiny package on America's worst network, nice plan palm.
Apple should name the next iphone "The iphone Pre" haha :D

Iphone for me I'm all about media I refuse to be bored and my iphone always keeps me happy. I can stream xm radia all day through pockettunes if the pre can't do that its junk to me.

@ishirk do you know how many phones are better than the iphone on paper? But sales never stop. The iphone offers you what no other phone can . On paper my BB bold is better but I never leave my iphone home even if my sim is in my bold.

The iphone will always win!!! As long as they upgrade there hardwear and softwear I'm staying!!! Where else can you go to get a iPod a phone and a mobile computer in one???
And who?? Uses sprint??? LOL" ha ha ha!!!

About the keyboard:
The point you made was the exact same reason I wanted the iPhone. My fingers would really start to hurt after using my old BlackJack II.
About the ecosystem:
Since I already had an iMac and an iPod, the iPhone did make a lot of sense.

I find it almost irritating that things like Palm Pre, BB Storm, G1 would be nowhere near what they are if Apple hadn't lit a fire under the industry's collective arses.
When you think about it Palm was floundering BADLY with their next-gen offering until the iPhone (and apparently an infusion of ex-Apple staff as well) gave them something to aim for.
But noooo... Apple haters will still hate, and tell me that my purchase decision is invalid.

the ore will sell more than the storm. but it won't hurt the iPhone. just push them to make a better 1.

Apple-haters hate because they are in the minority. I chose the iPhone because I have been a Mac and iPod owner for 15 + years. The iPhone only made sense to integrate into my environment because of my ties to Apple. This is the very reason people hate the iPhone. They are ignorant to Mac and its operating system. People also hate Apple because they are trendy but, let me tell you, this was not the case years ago. The iPod really opened up Apple's computer business and now they are capitalizing. Hate all you want but the company is pure genius. Let's see Microsoft accomplish any type of product integration like Apple. Oh wait. They can't. They develop software and not hardware :(.
I think the Pre is good competition for the iPhone. It will get its own cult of fanboys and we will have to hear them whine just like the Apple fanboys. But that is okay because the Pre will never outsell the iPhone or establish itself in the market as a dominant player. Looks like Palm and Sprint have come together to offer an amazing 30,000 Pre's on release day and this shortage will continue for up to two months. What a very poor decision by two companies with one and a half feet in the grave.

iTunes will keep me with the iPhone for some time. I'm not sure the Pre is anything other than another BB Storm ; iPhone wannabe!

I would like to see the Pre succeed. That means it can only get better for the end users. I love my iPhone but it's not perfect but it can be if Apple finds someone who can really compete!

i like this right up i think the pre will be a great phone in november lol. there is going to be such a shortage for a long time it seems just like any other new device that gets too hyped up. so in a few months when people can actually buy them the new iphone will already be out. i think most mac users will always stay witht he ipone for seamless integration apple take the cake better than anyone. windows users have a lot of support from itunes, RIM, and Palm. so if you are a windows user your decision is really not as critical yet more to whats your network. But there will never be a killer of another device there will not be an iphone killer or BB killer or Palm killer (except themselves lol) because except for BB's the other 2 are network specific. so for the few people that contracts will be ending i doubt that many are going to go flocking to a new network. I
i will admit i am an apple fanboy i love my macs and iphone because it works the way it is supposed to i used windows for long time and always had issues. so i will stick with mac. but competition is a good thing! it makes the other companies fight for our benefit offering us better perks to keep us. so do not bash new innovation welcome it!

Rene, another good job. However, what you did was to compare the Pre to iPhone 2.0. There wasn't a lot of 3.0 in your review. Also, you presume that many of the Pre features are going to work as advertised. Saying that Synergy does wonderful things is different in the real world than it is on a PPT deck. Data from multiple sources on the web needs to be mapped to the proper fields in the Pre database. It might be frustrating when you find that your contacts load from say Google and LinkedIn with similar data loaded in different fields. Does this mean you can change it? What happens in the cloud when you do? It opens up a can of worms if it's not handled properly. Also on the apps there is a huge difference between having current apps designed to run on your current platform versus having your legacy apps run through emulation. Finally, we know the issues with the iPhone but don't know any with the Pre because it's not in GA yet.
I expect the Pre to be a credible device. However, a report like this is a bit premature. Palm has to prove that they have the chops to go up against the iPhone and we're talking about a moving target because we don't completely know what Apple has in store yet.

@ Chris ...I agree" Hey" do anyone know if you will be able to take a picture on the iPhone 3.0 upgrade and paste it in a link to upload it to a site like twitter??
I can only upload pics on my computer but I hope copy,cut and paste would allow me to do that.

@AJ: Very well said. I've been in the IT industry for nearly 20 years and I've never owned a more stable, secure and virtually trouble free computer as my Mac's.
I don't really care if people hate Mac because they perceive them as arrogant. Apple can be as arrogant as they like as long as they provide me hardware and software that rarely fails and lasts for years. I have an 11 year old iBook that still works great.
People that are the BEST in their field usually are arrogant. Or at least perceived to be. Being second best at anything will alway make you envious of number one. Kia owners will always be envious of Mercedes owners.

AJ--I was mostly talking about how the iPhone shoved a jalapeño up the mobile industry's tailpipe, but I hear ya. I just think a little credit is due.
Fanbois of any platform don't do any favors to the cause. It is worse now than it ever was... Check out the comments section of ANY engadget or gizmodo article :-P

As a cellphone sales person I can get sprint for free ( no monthly bill..) even though pre sounds good I still won't give up my iPhone and go to sprint network which has lack of coverege and worse customer service ever!

@Reptile: Also good points. Let's not forget that Sprint also highly publicized the Instinct to be the iPhone killer. It proved what you pretty much stated above that "on paper" this stuff looks great but the implementation and user experience are huge factors in a products ultimate success.
I'd love to see Palm and Sprint do well with this product, however, my prediction is that it will only attract those who are already Sprint customers for whatever reason, and those who cannot get acceptable enough service with AT&T to buy an iPhone. There may be loyalists to the Palm brand from "back in the day" that the Pre will attract, their numbers are nowhere near that of the iPod culture.

I am an iPhone owner and I love it. The pre does look amazing though ... it appears to be a phone that could rival what Apple has done so far. I appreciate the competition as it will only make Apple work harder.

I think a relatively balanced and good review. It shouldn't surprise anyone that virtually all the commenters on an iphoneblog, nay TheiPhoneBlog :) would tend to choose or keep the iPhone. I think what people don't get right now is really how great access to web apps/widgets can be. Background processing is a must for me as a primary BlackBerry user.
My question would be if the Pre could background process the following out of the box on day 1?
- Pandora/Slacker/LaLa running in a card
- Google Maps running in a card
- Mafia Wars for Facebook in a card
- Composing an e-mail to my boss
- Creating a meeting request on Exchange
- Accepting a facebook event
All of these at the same time? Is that possible? If so I think you have your compelling argument for the Pre

Good to see the competition because it will just raise the bar for Apple. The Pre will definitely boost the bottom line for Sprint, but I vowed never to go back to them, and that's a promise I can and will keep.

Also Nokia n97 is going to destroy both of them! So bad it's only unlocked which means you will pay full price.....

I do think the iPhone should have won in the Applications area. You have unknown vs juggernaut ... pretty hard to have a tie.

I'm calling BS on that Keyboard point. There is no way you are better on a non-feedback input method.

iPhone = super btchnawsom, pre, worthless waste of plastic and spare parts..
nothing can touch the iPhone, others can keep trying and keep releasing lower priced subworthy phones that are half @ssed - good for paper weights.
:-) dont be a noob, get an iphone

Truth, just because you aren't good on a touch keyboard doesn't mean other people aren't. Rene even points out he is in the minority! I actually agree with him on this point. I tried playing with a friends storm for 30 mins and hated the click crap...it made me type slower!

I think you had a more convincing argument for the iphone having a better kb.
Networks should be a tie IMO. You listed good points for AT&T. But there's the dreaded slingbox incident. Also AT&T is more expensive. Sprint is cheaper and offers better 3G coverage and won't get bogged down due to its being more mature. But still, it varies on your location. Tie..
Apps i think you're being kind but shows maturity in thinking about the future. I also think Palm can catch up in a hurry here. Remains to be seen how the actual app catalog works. Sideloading is also a huge part.
Nice of you to even pick "cloud support" as a category.
All in all, a nice comparison without being very biased. It's appreciated. One is media/apps focused, the other is pda/multitasking/apps focused.

@Truth: I had Treos for years and almost never typed on them. Hated the keyboards. Unlike a desktop keyboard where weight can help depress the keys, having to tense and try to push down those little, hard, rounded nubs with my mushy thumbs was aggravating.
I also have a lot of old joint injuries and would get sore tendons and ligaments tensing so much to type, so I stopped doing it.
iPhone keyboard is like heaven to me. I can just touch and type. I don't need (might not even want) tactile feedback.

To be honest, there is no phone that will ever satisfy my need. So therefore, they all fail :P

Count me in as another person who would never go back to a tiny physical keyboard. The keyboard on the Pre is a negative for me, rather than a plus; I also don't like the thickness of the device.

I dig the virtual keyboard too!!!
But seriously.... A tie on applications? No way! iPhone kills in this category. It has a 1,000,000,000 to 0 head start.

@ Stevegas
What if you compared the out of box applications of the iPhone vs the Pre? It's just too bad that half the applications that Pre offers for free on the device we have to buy at the app store, and will occur additional charges from ATT for using them, where as Sprint offers all in one data packages. Why doesn't the author compare the UI and the OS, the two most important factors?! The Pre wins hands in both, easily.
So if I was buying a new device, it would be the Pre. My iPhone looks cool on the surface, but feels old inside. Plus I have grown sick of the on screen keyboard. Can't wait for June 6th!

@ AJ (Post 11):
"Apple-haters hate because they are in the minority..."
I would not go so far as to say that Apple-haters are in the minority by any stretch. As far as the iPhone goes, it is a superior device, but the fact is that even though it has sold millions upon millions of phones, Apple does not hold more than 50% market share meaning it can not be in the majority. As for OSX, it is nowhere close to being in the majority, as they barely make a dent in that market share. So, no, I would not say that Apple-haters are in a minority.
On topic...I think that both will be great phones, but it will be a long time and a hard battle to truly compete with the iPhone.

I didn't read all the comments; so this point may have been made already. You allude in the (very cogent, honest and well-written) comparison to Palm's "abandonware." I think this is a huge issue. Palm's history of getting outmaneuvered combined with the juggernauts (Apple, Google, RIM... heck, even Nokia) they're tackling makes me fear that the Pre will be remembered fondly as a valiant effort, not the beginning of something lasting.
As much as I like Apple, I'm really looking forward to one of their competitors kicking their rear and spurring another great round of innovation. My money's on Google. Their war chest ensures that they can survive the smartphone market without worrying about profit margins... but they're behind Apple now. Gimme an iPhone!

@Daniel
Pre doesn't win either hands down, unfortunately. Design wise, I'm preferring the iPhone GUI. It scales better. Pre looks muddy from a distance. They made some choices that would have gotten them yelled at by my high school art teacher. And, unfortunately, rather than extend PalmOS or push the innovation, Pre is taking a lot of the iPhone UI behavior, so no credit there.
OS wise it's too soon to tell. BSD/OS X is rock solid and has years of dev time behind it (that they can deploy the same core on ARM, Intel, PPC, etc. is awesome). webOS is just coming out the door and we won't know for a while how secure, robust, scalable, etc. it is.

Back to iphone 3.0 <--- We dont know 1/5 of what this update is goin to give us iphone users. Its called great marketing. They arent going to give the competition a heads up, not a chance. I expect the unexpected and a whole lot more.

I think the Pre has a good solid chance. The unfortunate comparison isn't the Apple haters, but the Apple lovers, being unwilling to accept another smartphone that may hinder their iphones.
That's not going to happen.
But what is going to happen is that the bar is raised yet again - and the blackberry, palm, and iphone have to deal with that.
I don't use either, but I find the Pre more interesting these days. I also think that the iphone's big lag is the AT&T network; it's interesting to hear everyone here call Sprint a horrible network. Sprint gets consistantly high ratings for their network speed and availability; Verizon and Sprint are tied in most areas as number 1 and 2 for the network. But, Sprint's customer support sucks the big one, something they are desperately trying to fix, which is why sprint "sucks". Don't get the two issues confused though. I use Sprint at work and AT&T at home - my Sprint connections are much better (re: faster and more reliable) than my AT&T ones, and I'm thinking I may drop AT&T with the Pre's release.
We shall see. At the very least it's refreshing to have another phone to choose from.

I'll be going with Pre. I've been waiting for a nice modern device that doesn't force me to give up common spartphone features I've had for years. Proper keyboard, proper multitasking, not being tied to that glorified shopping cart iTunes, not having to spend $20-50 more per month for shittier coverage on the same network that illegally taps people's phones for the NSA.
Looks like a win-win for me. iPhone was obviously inspired by the touchscreen smartphones that came before it and they did a great job of bringing that tech to the less tech-savvy masses. They lit a fire under the asses of the industry and now, as iPhone built on Palm's old innovation, Palm is building on iPhone's current innovation to bring a better product. Competition kicks ass.

As an Touch use I can not wait to sell this thing on craigslist and get the Pre. I'm not a fan of the walled garden approach Apple takes. The DRM free music is a start and it was nice to see them add features the jailbroken crowd has been using for some time with 3.0 but it just seems like they are playing games. Adding one or two features every year just to get people to buy the next version instead of launching a truly great device is an even bigger turn off. Thing like the Sling app being $30 but free for evey other platform is a slap in the face to me, not to mention no streaming over 3g but the Bold can? I do think the Pre will push Apple to be a liitle more pro-active and push out other features they are just sitting one now becasue they don't need to release them. I can't blame them for doing it becasue holding back means they can just add it next June or the June after than knowing there will be lines outside evey At&t and Apple store no matter what they add or don't add feature wise.

Let me get this straight, because Sprint doesn't "currently allow" simultaneous voice data, and CDMA does not have a SIM card, ATT's network is better? GET OUTTA HERE!!! Your Dial-up vs Broadband analogy is a joke. Sprints has been rated to have the fastest mobile broadband Network. For most, Network reliability counts, ATT does not have that.

The only feature I want is the ability to download files off of websites on my iphone and wirelessly sync them to my computer so that when I am out if I find something I want to download like a zip file I can save it on my phone when on the 3g network and as soon as I get home it automatically transfers it to my computer via wifi

Very interesting review. There is no doubt that the iPhone and Apple had changed the mobile phone industry with with smart new ideas. That's exactly why the Pre had brought so much hype to the game. It is the first time Apple had commented with clear emotions about competition to the iPhone. Palm was a great company in the past, due to innovation. at some point, everybody tried to imitate them with PDAs, but they went to sleep and Apple, BB, etc continue updating hardware and software, while Palm kept the same operative system, so they lost popularity. When Apple commented about bringing a law suit, and Palm responded (indirect comments), Apple stopped talking about it because iPhone violates more patents that belong to Palm, than the Pre does (that belong to Apple) so nobody will do anything against each other. I think, overall, the Pre is better. I am a long time Sprint customer (since '97), because sprint was the first digital cell phone company. I had try AT&T, but did not like it, I will stick with Sprint, I don't have problems with them, so I don't call customer service. :) One thing I don't like about Apple, is that they restrict what you can do. I have an ipot (2nd gen) and now an iTouch (2nd gen) I can't install more than 90 app on my iTouch. I have a treo 755p, which I hate, because it crashes all the time, but still, I can't get away from it, because some functions, no other phone is able to do it the same way. Slingplayer, epocrates, etc. the iPhone is great, but lacks many common and useful features that the Pre has, also, Pre is a new platform, OS that will likely be shared with many other devices, like the Palm OS did, so Palm has a great chance of reviving and getting back into the game. All this only favors us, as customers due to competition. I can't wait to get rid of my Treo and get a Pre. I will never get an iPhone because of AT&T.

The one big apple-killer that you overlooked was the app store.
Apple's censorship will come up to bite them in the butt. Palm can easily their differentiate their phone with a campaign "There's NO app for that".
Want to up your flatulance? There's an app for that.
Want to program your pvr to record a show you see advertised at the transit terminal? Apple rejected that. Want to improve your love life? Apple rejected that. Want to integrate contacts, todo, email and schedule? Apple blocks that. For that, you need a Palm.
Funny for a company that started as a fight against Big Brother.

@Rene Ritchie
The Pre is based on a linux kernel with the GUI being a web server so OS wise it has equal development behind it to BSD/OSx. It will actually run on just as many hardware platforms as the iPhone. More, actually, since there are a couple of linux phones already on the market with drivers (Android)
I think iPhone users are underestimating the classic apps. There have been many, many million Palm devices sold with thousands of Palm applications out there and those people now have an upgrade path via the PalmOS Classic emulator.
That's not to say those apps aren't dated but they will likely work and for anyone who already has an application ecosystem that's a bonus.
And not having to worry about Apple's weird App approval process is another perk. Having a documented, unrestricted SDK is going to mean a lot of 3rd party apps will start hitting the market pretty easily. I don't have anything particularly bad to say about the iPhone other than I don't trust Steve Jobs to know what apps are best for me. That alone keeps me out of the iPhone pool.
Well that and I hate AT&T with a passion when they were acquired by/became/something Cingular and FUBARed my account several months running. But that's nothing against the iPhone.

@ Rene
Since webOS is based on Linux, it should theoretically be similar to the iPhone as far as security/robustness/scalability are concerned. Of course, that's only half the puzzle, so we'll have to wait and see how the webOS userland turns out. If that's a mess, then it doesn't matter how rock-solid the core OS is.
Also, a little bit of the clarification on the Networks section. True, swapping phones on Sprint isn't as easy as pulling the SIM card and tossing it in the new phone. But you can log into your account on Sprint.com and do an ESN swap there to activate the new device. I haven't had any reason to do it, but from what I hear its very easy and only takes a few minutes. Not really that useful for folks who regularly switch devices depending on their needs, but for phone upgrades it's still convenient.
For me, if it's iPhone vs Pre, the Pre wins out due to the hardware keyboard. Based on my limited experience with soft keyboards on the iPhone and other devices, I just don't think they work for me. I'm sure I could get used to it if I tried, but I prefer having the hardware keyboard. There are a lot of nice things about the iPhone, but the keyboard is a dealbreaker for me.
To all the Sprint haters, yes, there are people like myself out there who willingly use Sprint. Yes, their customer support used to be terrible, but the handful of times over the past few years I've had to call or go into a store to get taken care of have been nothing but pleasant experiences. Also, the SERO (and their replacements, the Everything Plus Referral Plan) are by far the best deal in wireless. I'm on a SERO plan and I pay $30/mo plus tax for 500 anytime minutes and unlimited nights/weekends/texts/data. A similarly priced EPRP plan is $60, which is still a better deal than any of the other carriers.
I'm really excited about the Pre, because on paper and from the demos I've seen it looks like it'll be a slick little device. But I'm going to wait until it's been out for a while and I can read reviews and see what all the App Catalog has to offer and play around with one in store before I decide if I'm going to switch. I really hope the Pre and webOS do well, if for no other reason than to have another option out there in the smartphone marketplace.

Easy there, webOS isn't UbantuMobile. Palm doesn't inherit any deployment credibility because of their choice of kernel (though I like their choice of kernel!) WebOS could be the best thing ever, but it's Palm's first attempt at this OS, and they'll have to prove it.

Well done. Can't say I agree on the Network aspect though. I absolutely hate AT&T. It is the worst network out there. I'm not kidding, I've tried a lot of them. And I know tons of people dying to get out of AT&T, and so the Palm Pre is a much need excuse to leave.
I love my iPhone (well loved, it got jacked.) but i'm leaving AT&T and all that mess. I can't wait for the 6th!

Before all the bells whistles....I have to see how good of a phone each of these is. Sprint was built all digital...ATT took over and tied together older cell phone companies and has limited 3G. Sprint is 3G anytime you get their signal...not just certain areas of their signal.....cant wait for a PRE

@AgBand
The Apple haters are a minority... I felt the user meant hate vs. love/like. In that sense, they are a minority. In market share, of course they aren't a majority, they haven't been in the game for 2 whole years yet.
@oneAwake
iPhone WebApps, not the ones from the store.

For myself the iPhone does what I need it to do and is more asphetically pleasing. Whichever phone a person buys, I think, at this stage in devlopment. Will have issues. The 1st piece of hardware from any company will have faults with the public. I'm more likely to ponder over switching developers in a couple of years.
Better the devil you know, for me at the moment.

Yawn. iPhone has proven itself again and again. With the pre, you are hoping it will work. Like the storm, it may not. How about waiting until the damn thing is actually available?

Not a bad comparison but you took a huge leap in assumption when you put them both on the same level as far as 3G coverage and network speed available. Check your coverage area first folks else you'll get much slower speeds if you choose AT&T-iPhone over Sprint/Pre for AT&T 3G is a fraction of Sprint's 3G EVDO availability.

Pre > Iphone
As for Sprint vs AT&T, AT&T has a pitiful 3G network that has far fewer high speed 3G locations than Sprint(or Verizon for that matter). Sprint's data network is superior, not to mention Sprint's pricing kills AT&T's ripoff rates.
Iphone/AT&T own one category though...marketing.

@Jake - I think this argument has been covered many times before. AT&T sucks in some areas. Sprint sucks in some areas. How can you say that an unreleased phone will be better than the iPhone? Pretty biased if you ask me. I think it will take the Pre at least 2 years to compete with the iPhone.
I want to check the Pre out to see what it is all about. I think this phone will force Apple to make better products along with everyone else in the market.

Palm Pre Prenatics Song
Singing
Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet
Just a Palm Pre and I need you Prenatics to survive
So many times, it happens too fast
And then Palm and Garnet changed their passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive
Chorus:
It's the Palm Pre eye of the tiger, it's the cream of the cell phones fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rivals
And the First known Palm Pre Prenatic stalks his prey in the night
And the competition watchin' us with their eye on the tweets!
Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry
They stack the odds 'til we take to the street
For we kill with the skill of our WebOS
Risin' up, straight to the top
Have the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now Prenatics not gonna stop
Just a Palm Pre and I need you Prenatics to survive

Wow... Mike is a true Cupertino-loving, AT&T-humpin fanboy. Top form, ya know? I guess saying that Sprint is the worst network truly makes it so, huh little buddy? I have Sprint... I will get the Pre... and there is no doubt that Sprint has twice the high-speed 3G coverage of AT&T (look it up) and the lowest-cost plans right now. You enjoy paying $139 per month for unlimited voice, texting, data, and navigation? I wouldn't... just saying. And yes, I am a Pre-lovin, EVDO-adoring, Sprint-payin fanboy.

I can also type much faster and more accurately on the iPhone than ay other hardware based keyboard I've owned before. But the best part, is when you don't need it - it's not there...

I'm afraid to say it, but the new Palm pre WILL be the iPhone killer (that is if we're speaking about the original iPhone). However, it can't compete against the 3G and if you've seen the new iPhone OS 3.0, you'd know they aren't even in the same league.
I'm not so sure about the point made about synergy. My iPhone, its default applications, and my mac are very well integrated. It's what I love most about the iPhone. And with 3.0, Apple has made APIs available to access the music library, etc.. You can't get more synergistic than that.

Sorry to break this to all of you...but, HSPA is handsdown faster than ANY version of CDMA. HSPA is true 3g, while CDMA Rev A is really just the same thing as CDMA 2000. ALL CDMA networks do not support both voice and data at the same time. HSPA is much faster, and may achieve speeds of up to 7.2mbps download as well as around 3.6mbps upload. While these speeds are not quite available in the US, the technology is out there. As far as cellular technology goes, the iphone wins, however, the hardware and software is still up for debate. :)

Wow. Fanboy alert all'round. I had to offer my two cents though.
First, about the networks. We have two iphones/ATT in the extended family and my wife and I have Sprint in the same area. We live in south orange county California and spend a lot of time in Colorado, between Denver and Colorado Springs. From our combined experience, ATT has lousy coverage in those areas, especially compared to our Sprint coverage. My wife and I hardly ever lose connections (I honestly cannot remember the last time one of us did), while my in-laws are constantly losing connections (multiple times a call sometimes) in the exact same areas. Point is, this is subjective and based on your own experience and area. To say that "Sprint sucks" or even "ATT sucks" makes no good sense.
Carriers: People hate Sprint, but the truth of the matter is that they have made a ton of changes in the last year since becoming the laughing stock of the cell world. Their Website finally makes some sense now and, speaking as someone who has used both, my experience with Sprint customer service has been MUCH better than my experience with ATT. Again, this is just my experience, but broad, sweeping generalizations mean nothing really. When I call sprint, I get people who speak clear english, who answer right away, and who show respect. I appreciate that. Last time I called ATT I was trying to cancel my dead grandmothers services. They tried to keep me (my dead grandmother, that is) from canceling for nearly 45 minutes before they finally gave up.
Plans: As far as I can tell, Sprint is simply cheaper. Perhaps it should be in your neck of the woods, but in the places I live, Sprint has much better connectivity and has always been much faster. My father-in-law HATES how slow his 3g iphone is compared to my old Palm treo 700p - and the fact that I pay $15 right now for unlimited data. Which technology has the most potential? That's a different debate. In the real world, holding one next to the other, which one is consistently faster? That's what ultimately matters to me. In two years, the "potential" might become a reality at which point we will be two or more generations down the road phone wise and all of this will be moot.
As far as current plans go, considering the unlimited family data plan (1500 minutes per month) which we would use, my wife and I can both get set up with unlimited data, texts, etc and twice as many minutes as we currently use for much less than ATT.
Bottom line is that all of this is fairly subjective. I love my iTouch and would love an iPhone, but I can't afford ATT, their service sucks where I live, while Sprint is great where I live and their service is affordable and customer service has been great for me. Now, if the Pre would just put the tethering back in, I would buy one immediately. I am pissed off that that seems to be off the table, but oh well. Things change. A tethering Pre and an iTouch would be cool.

This was a good comparison. I think the network part could have dug a little deeper, though. It basically compared the technologies as opposed to the carriers. I think GSM may have some possible technology advantages over GSM, but AT&T's network wasn't really compared with Sprint's.
I have never been a GSM user, and I admit that data and voice at the same time would be great - but I think AT&T has a long way to go in terms of network capacity and coverage issues.
Verizion is the undisputed king of coverage in the U.S., but I switched to them a year ago and have more problems in more places than I did with Sprint. Sprint also tied with Verizon for coverage in the west in J.D. Power's most recent carrier rankings. AT&T didn't come out on top in any region. Even U.S. Cellular in was #1 in one region, the northeast if I remember correctly.
Sprint had great data service and reasonable plans when I was with them before, from the looks of things now there may be less choices but the options seem fairly easy to understand.
Also, the article mentions something about the advantage of the ability to change SIMs with GSM phones.
Is this true with the iPhone's implementation of GSM? If not swapping SIMs doesn't apply to this comparison.

I have until September to decide whether to stick with AT&T and get the iPhone, or switch to Sprint and get the Pre. Sprint's customer service has improved. I recently did some business with Sprint, and the rep couldn't have been more nicer and helpful. But I believe Pre sales will pale in comparison with the next iPhone coming out in July.

Technology is amazing. Today we are arguing about two minicomputers. Its like star trek (with those pads). I wonder what we will have in 5 years.

Why couldn't someone write a keyboard app for the Pre that matches any of the features on the iPhone? Pre offers either choice. Advantage Pre on the keyboard comparison.

It really amazes me the amount of ignorance iPhone users have. Be excited a new device is coming to challenge your phones, and don't forget that Palm has been making phones alot longer than apple has. I've had the luxury of playing with the pre hands on, and I can say that the phone really is as good as it looks in all the videos. I had an iphone at one point, and being able to tap on 8 different applications and watch them all load simultaneously is awesome. As far as arguing over carriers, in my area at least, ATT is garbage. They have 3g in one part of town, and thats it. Sprint has it absolutely everywhere, and it's considerably cheaper to run. I pay 120 a month for unlimited everything, ATT got me for about 160 a month. Also lets not forget the lack of insurance for the iphone. I had to fork out for two of them. The pre WILL be insurable. Everybody just play with both phones and make a decision. And for the love of god, compare the phones and not the networks. Sprint trumps whatever ATT has to offer in almost all situations.

Rene, thank you for a well-balanced comparison review in a field that seems dominated by hard-core fanbois. A few minor nits to pick with the review, and several not-so-minor ones with the fanbois (both camps of them!):
- you rightly mention that iPhones soft keyboard is more flexible than a physical one, but fail to note that the Pre also supports on on-screen virtual keyboard in any configuration you want
- in terms of the app issue, I think you should also have mentioned that there are thousands of totally free Palm OS apps out there
- I don't think you're giving the underlying foundation enough credit, but I concede that that's a debatable point
- to the Apple fanbois who think that Pre is a rip-off of the iPhone, you might want to go back to 2005 and take a look at the first Treos - you'll see a lot of iPhone ideas there. And to those who think that everything Apple makes is instant gold - remember the Newton? No, I didn't think so.
- to the Palm fanbois, OK, maybe Palm did invent the category, but then they failed to innovate (not that they didn't try, they just failed to succeed)
And to both fanboi camps: although I dread it happening (and hold out secret hope that it never does happen), the threatened patent fight between Apple and Palm could be a game-changer. Both firms have a huge and valuable patent portfolio, and I'm sure both have infringed on each other (although in the end, I think Palm would prevail on legal issues given their 7-year head start)
Bottom line: these are both good, maybe even great, phones, and both have advantages & disadvantages vis-a-vis the other (and both of them seriously kick WinMo butt). Vive la choix!

Really, I think the iPhone deserves serious credit for breaking new ground as far as smartphones being concerned. That having been said, I the iPhone is about the best thing going for AT&T. AT&T doesn't do any favors for the iPhone and is a big enough reaaon for me to avoid it. When AT&T's exclusive rights expire, a CDMA iPhone on Verizon would be a force to contend with but the Pre on Sprint will also likely be a winning combo.

Good article. Fair, objective and reaches the obvious conclusion. There is no 'one size fits all', no matter what all the fanboys and bigots say. It's all about what works best for you.

I have an iPhone 3G unlocked and jailbroken so I have all the cool and free apps from Cydia. AT&T is surely better than Sprint, by the way, I work for Sprint as Advance Tech Support. We had out Palm Pre training 2 days ago. Before the training started, I looked at a Pre's image and I told myself that it's nothing compared to my iPhone. After our lunch break, each one of us were given a Pre to browse play with. The first time I touched the Pre, I took back the words I said to myself "it's nothing compared to my iPhone". The webOS is very user friendly, the Synergy feature is amazing and what amazed me the most is that you can open multiple apps ("cards") and leave it running in the background incase you want to switch card, unlike the iPhone that you have to close whatever app you have open to open another app. If iPhone has an App Store the Pre has an App Catalog where you can download and buy applications. All I can say is that Palm Pre is the real iPhone killer.

There really is no contest between the two.
Palm is heading under - and their latest attempt to stay afloat is to mimic the iPhone with an underpowered, cheap copy.
In two or three years, there will probably be no Palm, Inc - and no Palm, Inc to service their weak hardware.

I love my iPhone. It's superior design wise and feature. Hell, I'm typing this on my phone right now. I have the V1 though. I can't wait for the iPhone 3.0 hardware. It will absolutely blow the phone industry away and set a new level of revolutionary phone advancements. Watch out Pre. There's a storm coming and I don't mean the Rip-Off Blackberry. Let's do this APPLE!!!!

It needs to be noted for newsworthiness...
Treo was created by Handspring, (A company started by a group that came out of Palm to drop prices and create competition), not Palm and only came back to palm after the Treo mobile flip phone, (I believe the 300) was offered on Sprint. (Which I owned a Handspring Visor and the first generation of Handspring Treo AND HATED it! This is all a side-note and only added here to say, I have owned all the newest gadgets in the Handspring, handheld and Palm lineup and would NEVER BUY first generation of anything again since they always crash and lose data.
Having been and currently being a Palm Centro owner and Microsoft beta tester for many years, I actually am going to give some weird advice.
DO NOT BUY THE PRE YET OR MAYBE EVER!
As with Apple's first iPhone and the first release of Vista, there are ALWAYS BUGS!
This may be an iPhone killer as some are saying... I doubt it. But, no matter what the case, from a developer's standpoint, owning the first version of anything as an end user, you always stand to be ticked off. (Take it from a person who found one of the first bugs in the Treo on T-Mobile's network. It wiped out all my contacts!!!!!!!)
Advantage: iPhone

Are you guys serious?? Hhaha i don't care what.phone comes. Out! Nobody can compete with the iPhone period, and this coming from a guy that has had, every expensive phone from AT&T, ( HTC Fuze, BB Bold Etc) ...
Does the palm pre look good? yes but, you are also lookin at a phone that has alot of lagg from all the videos I've seen!! #2 is the size, from what i can see it's pretty bulky, unlike the iPhone!!!
Btw how can you give a tie , when it comes down to apps, are you damn serious? Hahahah this guy must be a sprint hopeful!!
Iphone wins in a landslide!! Can't wait for the new 3.0 OS!!! Them features are all the iphone needed!! Enough said

Lakers said:"Can’t wait for the new 3.0 OS!!! Them features are all the iphone needed!! Enough said"
Um...iPhone OS 3.0 still won't allow multitasking. FAIL.

OK ... 1st let me say I am currently an Apple FanBoy. Haven't always been but since drinking the kool aid about 6 months ago jumping into the Mac world ... I am now.
I currently own a 2g iPhone unlocked on Tmobile.
I have played a little with the Palm Pre at the Sprint store. I say the iPhone is and will continue to be the standard all with shoot for. I think it is a superior product with the ultra responsive touch screen and seemingly never ending anmount of apps. That being said ... If I were going to buy one of the two today and use the carrier designed for the phone I would choose ...the PALM PRE!!!
It boils down to dollars and sense. OK so AT&T has a special pricing structure for the iphone. WHY? Because it is so data intense? Because Apple users are used to paying more for thier products? I call BULLSH*T!
AT&T will charge you $99 for the unlimited minutes and $29.99 for the unlimited data and that included ZERO texts! So you add the $20 unlimited text plan and you are at $150. You know you will have JUNK FEES, TAXES, etc. that will bring it to what ... $170?
REALLY? $170 a month? REALLY? To use my cell phone the way I want too? REALLY? What is this 1999?
Oh yeah APPLE announced MMS messaging for the iPhone and guess what ... AT&T will not support that until late summer. But several other countries will at lauch. Wait APPLE has it's global HQ in the US ... and one of it's biggest upgrades will not lauch here but in other countries? WTF?
Oh yeah APPLE also announced Internet tethering for the iPhone. Same skipping record. AT&T will not support that at lauch either and have made no official announcement that they will. I am sure Apple will force that on them ... but guess what? AT&T will be sure to charge for that too. The RUMOR (Macrumors.com) is $79.99 for data and tethering! WOW why so cheap? REALLY? You always could jailbreak your iPhone and do this before but big brother AT&T could tell you were tethering and would often charge their customers loftly data charges as this broke their contract terms. REALLY?
OK this brings me to the Palm Pre on Sprint. They charge $99 for EVERYTHING! Minutes, text, data, ETC.! So I am sure with their taxes ... blah blah ... it will be about $120.
So is the iPhone worth $50 a month premium over the PRE? $600 a year or $1200 over the life of the 2 year contract?
HELL NO!!!
I LOVE THE IPHONE! Mine is on my night stand right now ... But 1 of 2 things have to happen with the iPhone ....

  1. AT&T needs to match Sprint's unlimited $99 plan OR
  2. Apple has to add other US carriers

PSSSSST ... APPLE fans ... Let's hope that the PRE makes a big enough splash with market share to achieve #1 because AT&T has the iPhone on an exclusive for at least another year from what I hear.
OK thanks for reading my rant! Sorry to carry on! SO remember APPLE #1 .... AT&T plans SUCK! SO buy the PRE on the now network until things change because $600 a year is $$$ in your pocket ... recession or no recession!
Jody

Hi All, visitor from PreCentral.net. Just bought the Pre a few days ago, one word AWESOME!
Everything this article states is true and verifiable, except one thing!
the Palm Pre CAN sync to iTunes! No excuses for the media lovers. I can take my iTunes content with me, including video.
Can't beat the apps on the iPhone, but I'm waiting to see how WebOS plays out (btw, I can run legacy apps from PalmOS too)

Lol, this forum like a bunch of little boys and girls and their pokemon cards.. complainin bout who da best monsta is.. A phone is a phone, you make calls, text, and other ish.. It changes noones lives, its not going to make you a millionaire, your not going to contact extra-terrestrials with it. As far as it goes, you all are just puppets, money bags to the corporate industries. You get hyped over the apps, the camera pixels, the internet speeds, while the top dog in the industry just holds his hand out to you so you can put your hard earned dollar in his hand. Technology is a brain washing to society. Its all about the cars with the most, biggest flatscreens, brand new computers, clearest stereos. Whens the last time you people took a vacation with your kids? or went to the park and played catch with them? or even walked your beloved dog? But you insist on wasting life, precious hours of the day, just to look down at a phone (your life apparently), and get on the internet and show how much of a cool guy you are compared to the other people who don't give a damn about you. Society dont see you walking with your iphone or pre and say to themselves, "damn I wish I was as much of a hotshot as he is!" Calm yourselves down and take your brown noses out the sky and look at yourself in the mirror. You will see your just as equivalent as the same person your dogging on the computer for not having the phone you do. So go ahead big man, charge up your pretty little plastic phone, walk out the house with the phone in its cute little fanny pack, because everyone is going to be so incredibly jealous of you. Go ahead. You know you want too seem like somebody in a world where you are nobody. Parade around with your cute little apple stamp on the back of your phone. Or your little "Palm". I bet if I were to take the phone from your hands and snap it on the curb you would be devastated. I end this saying.. Look what your life amounts too..

@ The Truth Be Known
That's pretty condescending to judge a whole forum full of people for trying to learn WHERE to spend their hard-earned money. I'm too young for kids right now, but I make it a point to do plenty of activities with friends and family, I spent an hour playing with my two dogs today, and another half an hour with my cat. The phone I use is important to me BECAUSE I would rather spend my time out and about doing new things and seeing the world, without worrying about having to sit in front of a computer to check email, keep up to date with friends, or get the 'boring' stuff accomplished. And I WANT to know which service will load my email while I'm sitting on a train waiting for my next adventure before I throw my money down.

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