May 09, 2021   2:00am

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The iPhone or the Palm Pre — which do you want and why?

The iPhone has needed some proper competition for a while, and it may be the unexpected Palm that has finally delivered it …

The Palm Pre, released just earlier this month, is, according to The New York Times‘ David Pogue, “an elegant, joyous, multitouch smartphone; it’s the iPhone remixed.” Pogue also explained that such a result isn’t that shocking considering, “Jon Rubinstein, who joined Palm after working with Steve Jobs of Apple, on and off, for 16 years… hired 250 engineers from Apple and elsewhere, and challenged them to out-iPhone the iPhone.”

And with the glowing reviews from the hard-to-fool Pogue from the The New York Times and Walt Mossberg from The Wall Street Journal, the Pre certainly seems to be a step in the right direction, even with Apple putting out the new iPhone 3G S (The “S” standing for speed– it’s supposedly a lot faster) on June 19th.

According to Pogue, “The Pre is a shiny, flattened black plastic capsule, coated with a hard, glossy, scratch-resistant finish. When it’s turned off, the screen disappears completely into the smoky finish, leaving a stunning, featureless talisman. It’s exactly the right size. It’s smaller than the iPhone — half an inch shorter, though a quarter-inch thicker — and therefore more comfortable as a phone.”

The iPhone 3G S, looks just like the other model, so don’t get too excited, but, it does have some pretty excellent other new features. Here’s a run down of what you can expect to find in both the Pre and iPhone, including what you can get out of one that you can’t get out of the other.

Both have:

  • Platforms “designed to run a wide variety of sophisticated third-party programs, or apps, from social networking gateways to games to business tools,” says Mossberg. The Pre has webOS while the iPhone is operated by Android.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • A cost of around $200 (but, with some stores selling Pre, you have to do a $100 mail-in rebate to get the additional cost off).
  • Touch-screen interface.
  • Apple’s iTunes for music.
  • Apps, but since Pre just came out it only has about a dozen while the iPhone has 40,000 to choose from.  (The Pres does have a plan for more apps to come.)
  • A 3 megapixel camera, a nice upgrade (especially compared to the old iPhone 3G camera).
  • MMS, meaning the ability to send photos directly to other phones.
  • $70 month plans (but Pre includes unlimited texting, mobile TV and radio, and Spring Navigation, as well).
  • Removable batteries.

Features the iPhone has that the Pre does not:

  • AT&T Service.
  • Many more apps than the Pre has to offer, though this could change with Pre popularity growth.
  • Hands-free voice control (voice commands to make calls, listen to music, etc).
  • Auto-focus camera.
  • Video-recording camera.
  • Remote wipe to erase what’s on your iPhone for security purposes if you lose it.
  • Better battery life: 12 hr talk time, 30 hrs music playback, 9 hours of internet surfing.

Features the Pre has that iPhone does not:

  • Runs on Sprint (will soon run on Verizon, according to Pogue).
  • Physical keyboard that slides out from its curved body.
  • Shorter, but thicker than the i-Phone which Pogue says makes it feel more comfortable as a phone.
  • Pre can simultaneously run any programs you choose on “virtual cards” that you can flip through, dismiss or flick off the screen by touch commands.
  • Comes with Synergy. “It automatically can merge similar contacts from disparate sources, like Google and Facebook, and can display multiple calendars from different sources as well,” says Mossberg.
  • Data recovery backup service.
  • Smaller screen than iphone.
  • 8 gigabytes of built-in memory but no slot for adding more.
  • Can perform copy and paste (not clear if the new iPhone includes this, too).
  • Universal search function that looks up terms not only on the phone, but also online, even in Twitter.
  • Unlimited texting, mobile TV and radio, Spring Navigation with $70 mo plan.
  • $70 Pre accessory, Touchstone, that charges the phone when you simply lay the Pre on top of it, and automatically puts the Pre into speakerphone mode when a call comes in during charging.

While the new iPhone hasn’t a had a proper review by Pogue or Mossberg, the Pre has, and includes these downsides:

  • First, the typing Autocorrect system is not as good as the iPhone 3G or other competitors.
  • A weak battery life was also a complaint by both reviewers, with only about one full days worth of use before dying.
  • The amount of apps was also a downside, but with a physical keyboard, (something the iPhone will probably never have), these faults may prove to be merely minor details in the long run.

Which for you?  Before making that decision, it’s important that you also think about your network supplier. Click here for PC Magazines review of those …

The New York Times, “Palm Pre, Elegant Contender,” June 3, 2009

The New York Times, “Pogue on the Latest From Apple’s Big Show,” June 8, 2009

The Wall Street Journal, “Palm’s New Pre Takes On iPhone,” June 4, 2009

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