Palm Pre Plus Review
February 15, 2010

Over the past 4 months Verizon has made more additions to their smartphone line-up than any of the big 4 cell phone providers. Their most recent addition arrived in a pair of devices from Palm; the Pre Plus and the Pixi Plus. Both devices were previously released on Sprint’s network, but now they’ve come to Verizon with a couple of notable improvements over their Sprint counterparts. Read on to find out how the Palm Pre Plus has been altered, and how it rates compared to Verizon’s other stand out devices.

The Pre Plus has a very clean, uncluttered design. The front of the device is almost all screen except for the speaker at the top. Unlike the Sprint version the Pre Plus ditches the button located on the bottom of the phone. The exterior also features a volume rocker on the left-hand side, usb charger port on the right, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on top. The phone’s case is mostly plastic, except for the suede-like material that covers the back of the device. Despite the plastic exterior, the phone doesn’t feel cheap, but it does leave it more prone to fingerprints. The Pre Plus features a 3.1” capacitive touchscreen display which produces 320x480 resolution. The Pre Plus’ touchscreen was very responsive and accurate throughout my time with the phone. The Pre Plus has a slide out full QWERTY keyboard, which has been slightly altered to give the keys a more raised feel than its predecessor. Call quality was above average on the Pre Plus, as the phone seemed a little on the quiet side during some test calls.

The guts of the Pre Plus is where the newer version has really made some strides. For starters, the Pre Plus has been beefed up with 512MB ROM/512MB RAM as opposed to 256MB ROM/256MB RAM on the older version. Also, the Pre Plus ships with a 16GB memory card instead of the 8GB found in the original Pre. Inside and out the Pre Plus is a fairly attractive phone, even though it lacks the ‘wow’ factor.

Software is what really sets the Pre Plus apart from many of the newer smartphones. The Pre Plus runs on Palm’s WebOS (version, which makes everything from navigating the menus to managing multiple e-mail accounts, fun and easy. WebOS is flexible, intuitive, and powerful, as multi-tasking is one of the Pre Plus’ strong points. WebOS supports Microsoft Exchange with Active Sync, has push support for Gmail, and standard POP support for any other e-mail service. I had an easy time setting up multiple inboxes, and was impressed with the speed with which my Gmail messages were delivered. WebOS also supports threaded sms messaging and manages to integrate both Google Talk and AIM instant messaging all into one seamless threaded experience. One of the other bright spots for the Pre Plus and WebOS is the Mobile Hotspot feature/application, which allows your Pre Plus to act as a wi-fi access point for up to 5 other wi-fi enabled devices. The Mobile Hotspot app is free to download, but to utilize the feature you must pay $40 per month in addition to your $29.99 data plan. Cost aside the feature works great, and would definitely offer a realistic solution to business users who are on the go and need access to a steady internet connection.

Palm’s App Catalog is a cool place to shop for new apps and games, but since its relatively new, the selection of apps is small compared to the Apple’s app store or Android Market. Palm’s app selection is sure to grow with time, but there are a few decent games available now, and gaming is something the Pre Plus does very well. Unfortunately, my review unit didn’t come loaded with Need For Speed or any of the other hot titles already available, but you can view a clip here to get an idea of what the Pre Plus is capable of on the gaming front.

Moving on to multimedia, the Pre Plus has some good things going for it. Leading the list of media features is the Pre Plus’ Webkit based browser. The Pre Plus features one of the best web browsers I’ve had a chance to use. The speed was great, and multi-touch is functional out-of-the-box so pinch-to-zoom is in full effect. The only problems I encountered while browsing were the lack of an on-screen keyboard, which forces you to switch between portrait and landscape mode if you want to browse to a different url, and sometimes I felt cramped while navigating pages due to the phone’s small screen size. Another asset of the Pre Plus is the camera which is a 3 megapixel unit and features an LED flash, and takes very good pics. The major multimedia weakness of the Pre Plus is the lack of video capture, which will be addressed when version 1.4 of WebOS is made available. The music player is also very solid. It gives you the option to play songs from playlist or album art view, which is slick since you can finger swipe from track to track. The Pre Plus also streams video nicely, files load quickly and look sharp and crisp.

In closing, the Pre Plus is definitely a stand-out device. WebOS is a very good platform that has the potential to be elite, and the Pre Plus offers a smooth and reliable touchscreen experience. The phone’s dimensions are a little small for my personal tastes, but the Pre Plus’ ability to multi-task, strong feature set, and price ($149.99 on a 2-yr. contract)make it one of the best options in Verizon’s line-up.

Score: 8/10 (Hot phone!)

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