Moving onto the negative aspects, while all those animations look nice, they’re obviously pushing the phone’s hardware to the limit as it can be rather slow and jittery when scrolling through lists or browsing the web. It’s not horribly slow like the iPhone 3G, for instance, but it’s enough to be noticeable.
The lack of a ‘proper’ homescreen is also a bug bear. Because WebOS uses this card-based multi-tasking system, Palm has chosen to keep the desktop clear of potentially confusing clutter, which is a commendable thought. However, it means you can’t add shortcuts or widgets to the desktop, meaning you always have to go into a menu to open your favourite programs.
The menu itself is also something of an annoyance because, rather than a few categorised icons for settings, games, and applications, it just has a load of shortcuts to each individual setting mixed in among all the other apps you’ve got. You can arrange the apps/shortcuts into pages, so you can have a settings page, a games page, or an apps page, but all told it’s not the most elegant solution.
So, while WebOS is still ahead of much of the competition in many ways, it still has some areas that need fixing. Combined with the phone’s mediocre battery life, which will see it last at best a couple of days in normal use, and you have a device that’s struggling to keep its head above water. Were we to have received the Palm Pre Plus a year ago we could have forgiven most of these problems as competition was much less fierce. Now, though, the Pre Plus just doesn’t compare to the best out there.
Thankfully the Pre Plus has one saving grace: O2 has slashed the price. Available for just £49 on an 18 month £30pm contract, it’s a good £100 cheaper than most of the top-end smartphones. At this price, it’s certainly a better bet than some of the lesser Android smarpthones like the Sony Ericsson X10 or Samsung Portal.
Of course, what’s most galling about all this is the knowledge that if Palm hadn’t been in such financial trouble it probably could’ve produced something truly amazing by now.
The Palm Pre Plus is only an incremental upgrade from the original Pre and as such it inherits most of its good and bad points. It certainly doesn’t compete with the top-end smartphones out there. However, at the price O2 is asking it’s still a very competitive handset, that’s still worth considering.