HP may have chosen to unceremoniously drop the Palm name, after buying the company last year, but thankfully it hasn't thrown the baby out with the bath water. The new Pre builds on the foundation of the Palm Pre and Palm Pre 2 and finally gives us a WebOS device that truly rivals other high-end smartphones.
The overall styling of the Pre 3 hasn't changed much from the previous, er... Pres except to grow in most directions. Where earlier versions had below average sized 3.1in screens, the Pre 3 has a 3.6in panel so accordingly the handset has grown in height and width, though remained nearly the same thickness. With the use of a flat glass screen, the look has moved even further away from the pebble like charm of the original Pre, but it's still an attractive device in its own right, especially when closed.
The back is finished in soft touch black plastic below which is hidden a TouchStone wireless charger receiver - just place the phone on the compatible dock and it will start charging. The overall construction feels solid and well put together and the device feels very comfortable and secure in your hand, even when the keyboard is slid open. The keyboard area itself is a bit plastic looking but not so much that it gives off a cheap impression. Also revealed is the large self portrait mirror on the back.
Looking round the sides we find a power button in the top right, along with the headphone jack an mute switch, while a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash and autofocus sits on the back.
Below the screen sits the gesture zone where you can swipe left, right, up and down to interact with the phones operating system. This frees up the screen from many basic onscreen controls, like Back, while eliminating the need for extra buttons, keeping the device's front nice and neat. A rather thick matt plastic bezel runs round the front edge of the screen, which spoils the look ever so slightly but it's a very minor point.
The keyboard itself is excellent. Since the Pre Plus, we've found the Pre keyboard's rubber keys to provide a really nice action and level of grip and this is retained on this model. However, with more space to play with, the company has also been able to increase the size of the keys, making it easier to tap away at speed without mashing multiple keys at once. The predictive texting is still a step behind the best but we were still able to tap out messages in double quick time. Sadly there still isn't an onscreen keyboard to fall back on, though.