The original Palm Pre was a device overflowing with potential thanks to its swish touch interface and cute pebble-shaped design, but in the end it fell slightly short of the mark. Now Palm is hoping to right most of the original's wrongs with an update, quite simply called the Palm Pre Plus. Packing twice the internal storage and RAM of its predecessor and with a slightly tweaked design, its improvements are subtle but it could still be enough to make this a viable alternative to all those yPhones and Cyborg phones you keep hearing about.
So when we said the design is similar, we really meant it. Externally, the only difference between the Pre Plus and the Pre is the removal of the silver dot that sat below the screen of the original and the use of a matt black back plate instead of glossy black.
The silver dot was somewhat superfluous anyway as it wasn't actually a physical button but a touch sensitive one. So on the Plus, Palm has simply put a thin horizontal strip of light in its place, which disappears into the blackness of the body when not activated. Tapping the strip simply makes it glow while swiping left and right causes light to flow from one side to another, and swiping up or down makes the light spread out- or inwards. It's all very pretty. It also serves a practical purpose as tapping it switches you between the desktop and an open app, swiping left and right moves you back and forth in documents and menus, and swiping up and down opens and closes the menu.
As for that matt back plate, it's actually the same matt back plate as used by the TouchStone wireless charger, which was available for the original. This £45 optional extra basically provided you with this backplate (into which is embedded some antennae and electrical contacts) and a base station. Put the packplate on the phone and place the phone on the base station and it will wirelessly charge your phone. It's arguably something of a gimmick, but it's pretty darned convenient as well and the matt back plate looks better than the basic glossy one.
So Palm has added this back plate as standard to the Palm Pre Plus. However, it doesn't include the wireless base station, making it somewhat redundant aside from its aesthetic benefits.
Other changes include an increase in RAM from 256MB to 512MB, which should improve performance and increase multi-tasking potential. Internal storage has also doubled from 8GB to 16GB, though you still don't get a microSD slot or any other form of expandable storage.