Review: Palm Pre 2 from Rogers

Palm’s latest reboot of the venerable Pre is the Pre 2. I would have said “obviously the Pre 2” but it isn’t so obvious. First there was the Pre, then the Pre Plus and now the Pre 2. With math skills like that it’s no wonder Palm hasn’t made any money! (sorry Palm, I jest)

The Pre 2 is not just a reboot but…well, I suppose it is just a reboot, but a very welcome one! Anyone that has owned a previous Pre (oh brother…) has asked for a faster processor and higher res camera and the Pre 2 gives that and more. It’s actually a great phone to use, so let’s dig in and take a look.

Hardware
This new iteration of the Pre looks very much like the old at a quick glance but anyone that has used the original will spot the differences quickly.

The Original Pre(s) had a shiny plastic outer that looks great in PR shots but is covered in fingerprints within 20 seconds of use. Along with the aesthetic problem the shiny plastic makes you feel less secure holding the phone. With it’s river rock shape you feel at times it could squirt right out of your hand, mid call.

The Pre 2 has a rubberized feeling coating on it’s plastic and it feels MUCH better in the hand and you don’t have the same fingerprint problem. A much-welcomed change.

The screen on the Pre 2 has been changed as well to be all glass and flat. As well, the body of the phone creates a small bezel, ostensibly to protect the screen but I’m not sure that is needed. It is a Gorilla Glass screen, after all. It’s still a 3.1 inch TFT screen that works exceptionally well outdoors and has a resolution of 320×480. Yes, this is a much lower resolution that other phones but I don’t find it to be a problem at all; everything is very clear and easy to read.

The original Pre only had a 3MP camera but I have always liked how well images turned out. With the Pre 2 it’s been bumped up to 5MP and shots look great! There are still almost no settings you can change but for a quick and easy camera you can’t beat it.

Processor
The Pre 2 has a 1GHz processor, which is certainly standard fair with smartphones in general but it is very welcome in the Pre 2. Anyone that overclocked their original Pre knows how much of a drastic difference it made for everyday use. The Pre 2 is snappy enough that there is not much you have to wait for at all. Everything launches quickly and multitasking is wonderful with this beefier muscle.

Software
The Pre 2 comes with the long awaited WebOS 2 which is a real pleasure to use. I could go into a LOT of detail about the changes but I’m pretty sure I would lose most of you, so let me just summarize a few points.

WebOS has been one of my favourite mobile phone OS’ by far! It’s hard to properly describe how intuitive the multiple swiping gestures are and how well the card metaphor works for multitasking. You have to just spend time with it to understand. But it isn’t just these big points; Palm has done an excellent job of making WebOS very refined with a ton of little features that hides it’s complexity but really improves the user experience.

WebOS 2.0 builds on that experience very nicely. Added to the card metaphor is stacking, which will group apps and windows together to help keep things organized, especially with huge numbers of cards open. It’s a good way to keep cards organized if you have a lot of them open.

Palm has built on it’s original “Universal Search” and rebranded it “Just Type”. I have always liked this feature, and building on it is great. When you are at the main screen you can open the keyboard and start typing whatever it is you want to find; whether it’s a contact, an email or anything else. As you type any items that match are shown with additional, external sources for you to search such as Google, Wikipedia, the Palm App Catalog and more. You can also add to this list of services to search if that provider has added their own WebOS search hook. It all works VERY well and keeps you from having to launch an app first, find the search option and then look for something. MUCH easier.

There are a bunch of other changes, but these are the biggest ones.

Opinion
As mentioned, I have always liked WebOS and my Palm Pre. I didn’t really think there was going to be much about this new Palm Pre 2 that would make me want to upgrade, but I was wrong. With the speed increase, battery life improvements, better camera and feel of the phone it is a worthy successor. People seem to either love of hate the form factor of the Pre line-up but I happen to think it’s fantastic. While the screen is smaller than a lot of smartphones it just seems to work for WebOS.

The Palm Pre 2 is available from Rogers for $99 on a 3 year contract or $449 outright.

BTW, we are giving a Palm Pre 2 away!! Click here for details!

About Darren Humphries

Darren Humphries has written 78 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Editor, MobileJaw.com Microsoft MVP (Windows Mobile)

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    It seems like the Pre 2 is an update to fix some of the issues that people complained about with the Pre – better glass and a faster CPU.

    But is WebOS2 a real 2.0 update? or is it more of a incremental update? It sounds like there isn’t much fundamentally new in the new OS, and it’s more bug fixes and tweaks to the existing release.

  • http://www.twitter.com/DarrenHumphries Darren Humphries

    It’s a good point and I was going to say something along those lines. Card stacking and “Just Type” are actually significant enough to warrant the 2.0 designation, if only just. They have done a few small cosmetic changes as well.

    Honestly, they are the underdogs in this space, so I don’t mind if they have to use a few marketing tricks to get some attention. I hope they do well with HP’s bankroll behind them.

  • Imad Zammar

    What is the actual battery life that you got out of the phone?

  • http://www.twitter.com/DarrenHumphries Darren Humphries

    @Imad It’s much better than previous Pre’s. I am getting a work day out of it with significant use whereas the previous Pre would die by 3pm.

  • http://www.MobileJaw.com Mike Temporale

    So they’ve improved the battery life and increased the speed of the processor. So, is the battery any larger? is the phone thicker?

  • http://www.twitter.com/DarrenHumphries Darren Humphries

    @Mike No, battery and size are identical. In fact, the backing is interchangeable with previous Pre’s. It looks like they have optimized the OS somewhat.

    I also read somewhere that this new processor could spool down to 300MHz when not in use whereas the previous one only went down to 500MHz. Since most smartphones are idle more than in use that alone would make a significant difference.

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  • Imad Zammar

    Sounds great. I missed out on the original Pre due to contract constraints, but I love the form factor. It’s too bad that developer deal is only in the US it would’ve been great to test the apps I want to develop on.