The one major change is the screen, which rather than having a curved plastic finish that mirrors the curve of the back, as on the Pre and Pre Plus, now has a flat glass finish. This breaks up the rounded design somewhat, taking away slightly from its charm, but overall it still looks great and more importantly improves usability. Because it’s glass, it will resist scratches well, its flat surface is less likely to pick up distracting reflections, glass tends to be better at hiding fingerprints, and it better transmits light giving a brighter, more colourful picture despite the display using the same LCD panel as previous phones.
Yet, despite many other phones sporting 4in+, 480 x 800 pixel displays the Palm Pre 2 is stuck in the past with a 3.1in display with a relatively miserly 320 x 480 resolution. While the superb software largely makes up for this, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a small display.
For productivity work like reading emails, reading documents or browsing the web it’s not ideal but is perfectly manageable thanks to decent clarity and sharpness. However, for videos, picture viewing and games, it really is a bit too small, though it does provide a decent level of contrast with punchy colours and good viewing angles.
For some reason Palm (which, let’s remember, was bought by HP recently) has put the hole for the microphone straight through the bottom left corner of the screen, which looks a bit odd. Quite why it couldn’t manage to come up with a more subtle solution like adding a hole to the bottom edge or in between the glass and the surround, we do not know.
It’s all the more of a shame as the rest of the hardware is very nice. Below the screen sits a gesture zone, which is a touch sensitive area that is used to perform actions like swiping back and forth or up and down to open and close program cards. It's sensitive and easy to reach and is marked by a thin strip of white LEDs that pulsate along with your gestures then disappear into the darkness when not in use.
On the left side is a microUSB socket for data transfer (you can just drag and drop files to this phone rather than needing specific software) and charging, which is thankfully left uncovered rather than previous versions that had an awkward plastic flap covering it. On the top edge is a headphone jack along with a mute switch (a very useful feature) and the screen lock / power button, which unlike some devices is easy to reach when holding the device in one hand.
Equally easy to do one-handed is open the slide mechanism, which reveals the keyboard on the front and a large self portrait / makeup mirror on the back.