It's here... (ish)
The Palm Pre - the company's do or die handset and the phone many believe the best challenger so far to the iPhone - has landed. In the US.
As expected the Pre went on sale on Saturday 6 June at Sprint, Best Buy and some Radio Shack branches with the launch widely seen as successful though stock was low and Palm has yet to cultivate the fanboyism which greets each new iPhone.
Tariffs tell us little given the very different approaches of US and UK telcos, but for the record prices start at $199.99 on the Sprint network with a two year service plan (after rebate). Early reviews have been largely positive with the general consensus matching my own Pre first impressions saying the WebOS platform is superb though the device itself feels a little cheap. Concerns also remain about the Pre's performance opening some programmes (eight/nine seconds is quoted) and the battery life (it can be flat with a morning's heavy use).
Furthermore Palm will have to go some to make an impression on the packed iPhone App Store though this is certainly a vastly more capable device than the original iPhone was at release and arguably the iPhone 3G. With Apple expected to announce a third general iPhone today at its WWDC we should soon get more info on the Pre's biggest rival.
To refresh the memory, the Pre packs in a beautiful 3.1in multi-touch capable capacitive touchscreen, HSDPA, WiFi, GPS, a 3.2MP camera, 8GB of native storage and a physical sliding Qwerty keyboard. Vitally, it also supports multi-tasking. Lacking are a memory expansion slot, Flash web browsing and video recording functionality.
One thing is for certain however: the smartphone market is far more interesting with the Palm Pre now in it...