I once again don my explorer hate as we explore the wilderness of smartphones to find the ideal one for my needs.
From the jittery Samsung Galaxy, my attention has shifted once again to the Palm Pre.
I should also mention that my attention has not shifted specifically to the iPhone; but the device remains in the back of my mind perpetually as one to consider. I have an aversion to the iPhone simply for the reason that each model get’s annually overshadowed by a slightly better one that the fanboys salivate insufferably about, and though the Pre has been out for about six months now, their next phone won’t detract from the merits of the Pre whereas it’s implicit with the iPhone that a new model will. I don’t wish to march into the Apple realm, though due to my iPod my foot is already in the door, and also the device lacks a physical keyboard and, while I’m certain I could get used to it, my initial settling in period would drive my to frustration. If I am unable to come to a decision I will probably give up and go iPhone, but if I can avoid it then I will.
The points that tempted me to the Palm Pre is it’s touch-screen and multi-touch features being almost as zippy as the iPhones, with a whisker of a difference that only the most pedantic of tech geeks would complain about, while I’m geeky enough to notice it, I’m not geeky enough to care. It’s physical keyboard lends an air of control that is lacking on the iPhone. When something’s physical, you know it’s free from the bugs and problems that can plague all things digital; this is why I buy CDs and not download, why I buy books instead of eBooks and why, in my writing, I want a physical keyboard. Of course, functionally there’s no difference and, as I said, I’m sure I could grow used to an onscreen keyboard, but it’s one of my many mental maladies that I hold dear.
In a way, the Pre could be a hybrid of the Android-ridden HTC phones and the iPhone; as it is, in it’s core, a prevalent touch screen with very few buttons (ignoring the full QWERTY keyboard beneath) and one central home button, a home button that is a glowing trackball as with the HTC but lacking the awkward chin, despite the slight curvature of the phone when open.
Of course, the Pre has noticable pitfalls over competitors, I would delight in exploring an app store simply to bask in the ingenuity of the developers, their imagination and inventiveness. Apple, of course, is the obvious solution to this as they have the biggest and best app store, the best SDK and, more importantly, the developers automatically think of Apple when writing apps. Palm has an app store, but one that pales in comparison with very few apps, practically no developer input and little integration with any of the big Web 2.0 companies, unless you count a degree of Facebook integration – which is the same as every phone company has gotten, Facebook is a whore – and the expected Google stuff like maps. These features, which are also present in the Android’s growing app community, would be a useful addition – though I think that any app worth using frequently will be on the Pre app store as well, anything else I suspect I would get bored with all too quickly.
Another point is the boot time on the Pre, which is frankly insufferable. In my reasearch I have found countless speed test comparisons between the Pre and the iPhone and, were this a cage fight, the Pre would’ve been spread out across the bars and the iPhone holding up the belt before it even had time to get to the home screen. In more expertly conducted tests it took seconds that hit triple figures, albeit barely, averaging 1:46 when the iPhone 3G and 3GS that it was being tested alongside both took less than a minute. Though I have to wonder how often do people turn their phones off? Time was that if you went on a plane or to the cinema, you’re phone would have to remain resolutely off for the entirety; but in the modern age of “Airplane Mode” and “Silent”, this is no longer the case. I actually don’t remember the last time I had to turn my phone off, and it’s frankly an unusual occurence when I do, usually only being necessary in the event of a notable system failure or, in the case of my phone, to remove the SIM card. Although, with the battery life being about on par with the iPhone, it may become evermore necessary to turn my phone off. Flipping again, I don’t really know of any situation that’s likely to occur when 100 seconds is anything more than a minor annoyance than it is an actual problem.
There’s also the lack of flash support – while the iPhone, technically, has better flash support owing to the Apple name being a temptress for special treatment by big websites, BBC iPlayer and YouTube included, no phone can really do this well. While the web browsers on the iPhone, Pre and Android OS all have a full HTML browser, Adobe is yet to release it’s upcoming Mobile Flash (due for release some time next year, which is itself tomorrow) which will ease the transition. Adobe would do well to make haste given how much the internet relies on flash nowadays; and is only set to increase. Thus, this problem is somewhat fleeting.
In my mind, it’s the closest thing to an iPhone killer there is, it’s prolific cousin Android is busy spreading itself out amongst the phone market which, though is a financial no-brainer, does reduce the mark of exclusivity and premium that the iPhone, Blackberry and Pre Operating Systems have that could allow them to charge more. It has all the features of the iPhone that I want, apart from a decent app community, and is overall a very nice device.
My hunt goes on, therefore, I feel it is quite likely that the next few days will see me settle resolutely on the Palm Pre, but if anyone has any input or suggestions I’d be glad to hear it.
I probably won’t be posting again this year, or indeed decade, given that both end in less than ten hours.
A very happy new year to all, and I wish you all a delightful 2010!