Way back at the start of 2009, Palm shocked the technology world by debuting its new phone operating system WebOS. It provided an incredibly fluid and intuitive touch interface that not only rivalled the iPhone at the time but even surpassed it in many ways. Sadly the software, which debuted on the Palm Pre, never found its way onto a device that did it full justice and, due to delays in it hitting shop shelves and to some ill-judged exclusivity deals, Palm found itself in a spot of financial bother, resulting in HP buying the company.
Now, after a few scares, including HP suggesting it wouldn't use Palm's assets to produce more mobile phones, we have a new phone, the Palm Pre 2, that also debuts the latest version of Palm's OS, WebOS 2.0.
So here we're going to take a quick look at both the new hardware and software and we'll follow up shortly with a full review of both.
The Palm Pre 2, then, is an incremental upgrade from the Palm Pre Plus that itself was a small update to the Palm Pre. It has the same rounded design with a slideout keyboard and the same 3.1in, 320 x 480 pixel display. However, there are some key improvements.
Gone is the curved plastic screen to be replaced by a more hard wearing glass one. This not only will help in terms of resilience but the glass also transmits light better making the display brighter and more punchy despite it using the same panel as the original Pre. The loss of the curved front does detract somewhat from the pebble-like charm of the original Pre but considering its practical benefits, it's a sacrifice we can accept.
One rather unsightly oddity, though, is the hole for the microphone, which is drilled straight through the bottom left corner of the glass – surely it could have been fitted in a gap along the bottom edge.
The same soft-touch plastic that was used on the optional TouchStone back cover of the original Pre has now been used to cover the entire body of the phone and it's all the better for it. The glossy finish of the previous device was slippery, prone to scratches, and showed off fingerprints with aplomb.
The wireless charging TouchStone technology is now integrated into the standard backplate so you can simply place the phone on a TouchStone charger and it will start charging – no need to plug anything in. However, the TouchStone charger is still an optional extra.
A microUSB socket on the right edge serves both charging and data syncing purposes. Unlike the original Pre it isn't covered by a plastic flap.
A volume rocker is on the left edge while up top is the power button/screen lock button alongside a hardware mute switch – very useful – and a headphone jack.
Slide the phone open and there's a large self portrait mirror on the back while the keyboard is revealed at the front. The same slightly small rubber keys of the Pre Plus appear to have been used so those with larger fingers may find it a struggle to use accurately. However we had few problems and indeed found the layout to be excellent, though as ever we still found it slower than using an onscreen keyboard, something that still isn't available on WebOS.