Palm Pre Plus review

Reviews Robert Johnson 15:41, 24 May 2010

We review the Palm Pre Plus, an updated version of Palm's first WebOS device

Compared to the Pixi Plus, the latest Pre is definitely the more serious player.

Although the Pre Plus hasn't really changed much from its original model, besides the removal of the round button in favour of the hidden touch-sensitive type. Removing the micro USB cover is fiddly, and it's a shame that Palm couldn't borrow the clever magnetic cover design used on the Pixi.

Side by side, the Pre Plus feels so much nicer in the hand than the Pixi Plus. The phone has a bigger screen, which really makes a big difference, along with a lovely feel in the hand that mimics holding a smooth pebble.

The phone now comes with the battery cover that works with the optional Touchstone charging base that can wirelessly charge the battery (which might be why they didn't bother to improve the charging socket cover).

Unfortunately, the inductive charging option is still going to cost you more – although in time, O2 might opt to bundle it free. O2 didn't have much success with the original Pre, and it's pretty hard to see what has actually changed on the successor.

The phone does feel more solid, and the keypad now has more room between the top row of keys and sliding screen.

The phone has 16GB of non-expandable memory, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and HSPA support for high-speed downloading and uploading.

The screen is not only physically bigger, but also squeezes in an extra 80 pixels vertically. This actually makes a real difference, especially when you have new notifications showing at the bottom of the screen.

WebOS is a simple operating system to learn and the user interface is excellent, with everything being controlled with simple, sliding motions.

You can also see a ripple-effect on the display to show exactly where you've pressed, which looks a little like when you pressed on a cheap LCD calculator and saw the liquid spreading around.

Applications operate like cards, so you can have them all open at once (it's very hard to get used to this, so for some time you'll feel compelled to close apps by flicking them off the screen) and swipe left and right to swap.

Despite the odd delay in opening a new app, the phone can happily run multiple apps without breaking a sweat.

Combined with the Synergy, which pulls in social networking content and synchronises with your phonebook (something that, since its announcement in January 2009 is now common place on just about every new phone), the phone is equipped with all the tools you're likely to need.

There's email, web, Google Maps (no free navigation as yet, sadly), a media player and 'Flashlight', possibly the most essential app at all. Actually, I have to hope that Palm loaded this on as a joke, because it's quite probably the most pointless app ever.

It doesn't activate the LED flash but simply turns the entire display white. Other preloaded apps include Bubbles, AccuWeather and 'Tweed' – a beta release Twitter client.

All of this proves that WebOS is struggling to be taken seriously by application developers, and I can only predict that it is going to get worse.

Although Hewlett Packard has now acquired Palm, there's little chance that developers will be rushing to switch from Apple, Android and BlackBerry anytime soon.

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