Review: Palm Pre
The Pre's display is freaking fantastic — perhaps the device's best feature. Graphics, icons, text and images are razor sharp and crisp. Colors are bright, rich and luscious. Even with the sun reflecting directly on the display, I was able to read it with no problems. It is simply a phenomenal display. It can be read in all environments, even when covered heavily with finger grime. Really, I could heap compliments on the display all day. I think you get the point.Signal
Most places I took the Pre, it behaved similar to other Sprint phones. That means in my house it registered 2 bars of signal strength. I had no problems making calls, surfing the web, sending SMS/MMS messages and so on at home.
On more than one occasion while testing, the "EV" symbol that sits next to the signal strength indicator changed to "R". The user manual tells me this means the Pre was roaming. In all the years I've tested Sprint phones, I have never seen one roam before. The Pre couldn't perform ANY network-dependent activities when the "R" symbol was present. This is goofy behavior that could be attributed to my review unit in particular and it is likely something that could be fixed with a firmware update. I have pinged Palm and Sprint about the issue, but have yet to hear a response.
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Rebooting the phone did take care of the problem.Sound
Phone calls with the Pre sounded surprisingly good. They were clear, and callers could be heard easily, even with the earpiece volume set at about half way. I have no complaints about the sound quality of the phone whatsoever.
The ringers were not loud enough to suit my tastes. Set all the way up, it would be quite easy to miss phone calls in loud or noisy environments. This, however, can be very effectively combated with the Pre's vibrate alert, which is desk-shakingly strong. Seriously, the vibrate alert is so strong I thought I'd been tasered at one point.Battery
Palm's webOS is an absolutely battery hog. Because it is constantly pinging the network for information and data (aka, email, etc.) the battery often drains in less than two days. This was consistent across the whole time we spent with the device. Heavy use drains the battery even faster. I was easily able to kill the battery in one day with heavy web use, camera use, MMS use and some phone calls. Keep in mind, this is with no Bluetooth and no Wi-Fi active.
I asked Palm if there is a way to better manage the way the Pre connects with the network (especially regarding push notifications). It turns out, you have to manage your email retrieval and IM clients carefully. Email defaults to checking once every 15 minutes. Dial it down to every 30 or 60 minutes for better battery life. Also, be sure to log out of IM, which also defaults to ON.
One good thing is that the Pre will charge when plugged into most any PC via the USB port. But, laptops make for inconvenient power chargers. I would recommend bringing the Pre's charger with you just about everywhere. (It's a good thing the charger is small). You can counter the poor battery life a little bit by lowering the display's brightness level and keeping the Bluetooth radio off.