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The summer of 2008 has been a good one for smartphones. Launch has followed exciting launch, with not one, not two or even three, but four or more major handsets hitting the market in a matter of months - there's been so many it's hard to keep count.
First came the HTC Touch Diamond, deliberately timed to trump the iPhone 3G. It failed but the its bigger brother, the Touch Pro, was a much better stab. Then we had the excellence of the Nokia E71 and finally the RIM BlackBerry Bold. With such high calibre opposition, you've got to feel a bit sorry for Palm and its Treo Pro.
It's certainly a step up from the Centro ? a phone it owes more than a modicum of its design heritage to. It's thinner, glossier and altogether more grown up in appearance and it's not an unpleasant phone to hold and pocket. Rounded corners and edges help here and the all-gloss black finish ? Palm dubs this Obsidian ? is sumptuous to behold.
In the raw numbers it's not all bad either. At 13mm thick the Treo Pro isn't as thin and sleek as the Nokia E71, but neither is this the thickest phone in the world. Indeed, it's narrower around the waist than the iPhone 3G and it's certainly a lot svelter than the HTC Touch Pro, which measures a chunky 18mm front to back.
It doesn't give up much in terms of features, either. There's quad band GSM, GPRS and HSDPA for high-speed mobile data. It has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while its 400MHz processor and 128MB of RAM is enough to keep Windows Mobile running at a decent lick. I'd like to have seen more than the meagre allocation of 100MB storage, though the microSD slot under the back plate does allow you to expand this.
It also has integrated GPS; accompanied in this instance by Google Maps and a 14-day trial of a piece of navigation software called Webraska for turn-by-turn navigation - look out for a full review of this next week. GPS functionality works well, too, when used in conjunction with the Quick GPS tool (this downloads data on satellite locations based on mobile phone mast triangulation). It locks onto a satellite signal quickly and in tests provided a reliable and accurate position.