Palm Pre Is Nice, But I'm Keeping My iPhone

Palm (PALM) has done a nice job with the Pre, which goes on sale tomorrow: As others who’ve used it have said, it’s a good-looking, zippy smartphone with perhaps the second-most powerful operating system on the market. But after a few minutes playing with one, I’m in no hurry to get rid of my Apple (AAPL) iPhone 3G.

Important: This is not a comprehensive review. I only spent about 15 minutes with the Pre this morning, and trying out a new phone is like trying on someone else’s glasses — dizzying. I’m going to spend a lot more time with the Pre when Sprint ships me a review unit, and maybe that’ll change my mind. (Note to AT&T: Your pitiful NYC data network is the biggest reason I’d switch. You MUST improve this.)

But while I was impressed with the phone’s quickness, the ability to run multiple apps at once, and Palm’s overall hardware and software design, it is not enough to get me to switch from an iPhone.

  • The app platform and app store — where I spend a lot of time on the iPhone — is nowhere near competitive yet. Forget about potentially playing the same games as you can on the iPhone.
  • The physical keyboard is too small to make typing much easier than on the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard (and I don’t even have fat fingers).
  • The operating system and controls aren’t as simple and intuitive as they are on the iPhone. It takes some training and getting used to, whereas I think the iPhone is so stupid-simple that anyone can master it right away.
  • There’s no virtual keyboard for typing quick messages with the phone closed. You really have to open it every time you want to respond to someone.

So: Nice gadget. It’s something that’s going to get better as Palm irons out the kinks, and assuming app developers start writing apps for it. (And it also slices cheese!)

Sprint (S) should be able to sell a bunch to its subscribers who want the best smartphone Sprint offers. But what Palm investor Roger McNamee said about iPhone users — “not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later” — is obviously wrong.

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