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Palm Pre: the next big thing in 3G smartphones?

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February 15, 2009

Palm Pre

Palm Pre

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February 16, 2009 Announced at CES 2009, Palm's Pre is a 3G smartphone set to take on the iPhone and the G1. Read on to find out why we think it's got a fighting chance of becoming the next "must have" handset.

Palm Pre Technical Specifications

  • 3.1-inch touch screen (320 x 480)
  • 3 megapixel camera with LED flash
  • IM/SMS/MMS messaging support
  • Bluetooth 2/1+EDR and AD2P
  • 3G EVDO Rev A
  • 8GB on-board storage
  • microUSB port
  • USB mass storage support
  • Bluetooth/USB tethering
  • "Synergy" synchronization pulls data from your online/offline mail and social networking accounts
  • Built-in support for wireless charging with optional "Touchstone" charger
  • Copy and paste support
  • GPS with turn-by-turn navigation
  • TI's OMAP3430 System-on-Chip (SoC) running at an as-yet-unannounced clockspeed (up to 1GHz)
  • Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • Removable battery
  • Adobe Flash support
  • E-mail: Microsoft Outlook/Microsoft Direct Push and POP3/IMAP support
  • Video: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264
  • Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, WAV
  • Wireless: 802.11b/g

It certainly appears that Palm paid a lot of attention to the countless "what should be in the iPhone" lists out there and made sure their device ticked all the boxes - things like out-of-the-box tethering, Adobe Flash support, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, removable battery, copy and paste, GPS with turn-by-turn navigation and A2DP have made it in.

The Pre includes a gesture area at the bottom of the screen, designed to make the phone usable with one hand. Check out the video embedded at the bottom of this article for a demonstration of the calendar, multitasking, and integration of the Pre - it's worth 10,000 words.

Those of you that are across 3G technology might have noticed that the Pre uses EVDO, not the HSDPA protocol which is the de facto 3G standard outside the United States. Fear not, as an HSDPA-capable Pre will be launched worldwide shortly after the EVDO/Sprint launch in the US.

The TI OMAP3430 is a powerful, modern chip, that has been compared to the Intel Atom CPU that powers a vast majority of today's netbooks. TI are claiming the chip hosts the most advanced and effective power management techniques out there, but Ars Technica share our concerns about battery life of such a high-powered, highly-connected device - especially now that the battery is confirmed to be 1150 mAh - the same as the T-Mobile G1, which is known to require a lunch-time charge to get through the day.

Palm's webOS operating system is essentially a Linux core running WebKit, the same open-source browser framework used in Android and the iPhone. All webOS applications are written in HTML, CSS and Javascript, which means the pool of capable Pre developers may very well exceed that of Apple's well-established iPhone overnight. One downside of this is that developing modern games for the Pre will be very difficult as a result - a shame given the capable OMAP3430 SoC. Having said that, we imagine it won't be too long until Palm release an API that allows game developers to introduce the OMAP3430 to some C/C++/OpenGL.

Just about the only thing we don't know yet is a price or release date, although Palm is promising that the Pre price point will be "competitive" - which we'll guess means somewhere under US$300.

Tim Hanlon

About the Author
Tim Hanlon Tim originally came to Gizmag as a developer, much to the dismay of anyone who had to maintain, build on, or rewrite his code. After wearing every other hat that didn't have a head for it, he became CEO in 2010. Outside Gizmag, he trains Muay Thai and plays too much Destiny.   All articles by Tim Hanlon
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