Palm Pre Owners, can I get a minute?

So my faithful old Katana finally crapped out and I need to get a new phone. I’m a Sprint user but I’m free and clear of any contracts so I can go pretty much anywhere I want. Sprint offers by far the cheapest data plan and considering my finances these days that’s crucial and I’m not aware of any phones out there that feel like absolute must haves for me. Long story short, I’m thinking about sticking with Sprint and upgrading to a Palm Pre. I could get a Blackberry Tour or Curve for about the same price, but I think the Pre’s touchscreen and web browser make it a nicer option. Before I took the plunge I was hoping to get some experiences and advice from current Pre owners. You happy with it? How worried should I be with the rumors of shoddy build quality? Has webOS grown into a complete platform yet?

ETA: Also, what’s the verdict on the Touchstone? Worth getting? Is a protective case a must have?

I got the Pre as soon as it came out. I subsequently got my wife an Android phone. So I have both to compare.
First: I prefer the Pre. It works well for me.

The key advantage of the Pre over other smart phones (not the iPhone-that is better than the Pre), is that the WebOS is more integrated into the phone than others. Even the Android is basically a minature computer screen on a phone. You will find that the operation of the Pre is more fully integrated into the screen than others. It does make a difference. On the Android it is still selecting icons off a list and running programs. You do the same thing on the Pre, but it feels smoother and more integrated.

However, the WebOS is still a work in progress. They just came out with another update and so things continue to improve. But clearly they released the OS before all the features were complete. To their credit they didn’t put out buggy or unfinished features (for the most part), they just didn’t include them in the initial release. Many things are now here, but not all. I still have problems with an “integrated search feature” that won’t search my calendar. I need a separate app for that.
Also, there have been complaints about the mechanical slider loosening over time. Mine used to be quite tight and smooth. It now has a bit of play. Not a problem for me-yet. A service warrenty is a good thing.

So, I like the Pre (the Pixie isn’t worth considering. If you need to save the money, get another phone. They stripped too much out of the Pixie to be worth considering).

The Android phone we have is the Samsung Moment. Nice phone. The parts of the OS aren’t as integrated but it is a nice phone.

Oh, the touchstone is the best thing about the phone. Far and away. Convenient and reliable. A must have option.

I’ve had my Pre almost since it came out, and I love it. I guess I’m not a power user or anything, as I haven’t noticed any problems or anything. The thing I like most about it is the physical keyboard – while it doesn’t have a virtual keyboard yet, a simple software update could fix that, whereas something as simple as that would not be possible with the I-phone. They are slowly getting more and more apps, and they have updates every now and then which seem to be fixing the little things that might be a problem for people. I haven’t had any physical problems with it. I also don’t have a touchstone – can someone who has one tell me if it actually powers the thing without having to take off the flap that covers the USB opening? Because that might be the only real problem I have with the Pre, and if the touchstone solves it, it might be perfect.

The only thing I can really compare it to is my Blackberry I carry for work, which I hate. I don’t know how old it is, and I haven’t spent any time learning it or anything, but it seems incredibly anti-intuitive and I dislike everything about it, from the lack of a touch-screen to its weird web browser.

Yes, the Touchstone charges by just setting the phone onto the TS. No plugs or covers to screw with.

rbroome have you had any signs of heating issues with the Pre or the Touchstone?

Is Sprint’s 3G network fast and solid with the Pre? Does it work as a phone well?

Pre owner since, oh, October or so.

I like it quite a bit. I used to carry around an old Tungsten T3, plus my cell phone; having a Palm actually be my phone means I carry one less device, which is always nice.

The touch screen looks great and is responsive enough for my light usage. At first, I felt that the applications seemed kinda “feature-stripped”, but I now reckon that they’ve just kept things simple to make it more intuitive and less cluttered. I’ve never had a phone with a full keyboard before, and even though it’s tiny, it works quite well even with my bug klutzy fingers.

My one complaint is that there isn’t any way to upgrade the storage; it has 8 gigs built in, which should be plenty for now, but I’m a little paranoid about needing more space later. Although you can’t blame them, really; I have no idea where they’d fit a micro-SD slot on this sucker.

I do have a Touchstone charger, and it’s great; opening that little door is irritating, and I’m sure would cause it to break prematurely. I’ve never noticed the Pre getting any more than slightly warm during or after charging. The Touchstone comes with a new backplate you’ll have to put on the phone, which is a very minor operation. The new backplate has a sort of “matte” finish rather than the slick finish of the rest of the case, and it has, I believe, two little magnets in it that align the phone on the base for charging.

The 3G works very well, when I’ve been in cities that have it (can you believe my home city has 4G, but not 3G? suck…). The Pre can also connect to WiFi networks, if you’re somewhere without 3G, and the speed boost is nice; mine connects to my home and work networks with no problems. Using WiFi does drain the battery faster, though.

About how it works as a phone: superb. The sound quality is excellent, and it doesn’t feel like a “toy”. I should note, though, that I did have one problem within a week of first getting a Pre: it apparently contains a sensor that detects the angle you’re holding it at, so that it can automatically turn off the screen while you’re on the phone, but turn it back on when you take it away from your ear to, say, hang up and whatnot. Well, that sensor apparently was wonky on that first Pre, because after putting it up to my head, the screen wouldn’t turn back on unless I reset the phone. Since it takes a couple of minutes for the phone to boot up, that wasn’t an option. So, had to do an exchange, and the second one has worked like a champ ever since. I’ve only heard of one other person having the same problem.

When I was tinkering with it in the store I had a little trouble getting the accelerometer to work right when I was trying to flip between landscape and portrait in the web browser. Hopefully that’s not a persistent issue, I think it’s probably just one of those things you’ll develop a knack for over time.

One other random question, how’s the speaker and ringer volume? I probably won’t use the speaker phone a ton but having a ringer (and alarm clock) that are loud enough to be heard in the other room and while I’m sleeping is crucial.

Have you considered the Android devices that Sprint carries? Or, since you aren’t under their thumb the droid or the forthcoming Nexus One? I ask because, while the Pre had a lot of hype and certainly does a lot of things right I do not think it has as much of an upside for apps as the Android OS.

My shilling for the android being done. I haven’t used a Pre but everyone I know who has one really does like it. I haven’t heard anything from them regarding shoddy hardware builds. And that charging stone is extremely cool.

Yeah, I am tempted by the Android devices but really I had two big issues. One, I absolutely must have a full, physical QWERTY keypad. Touchscreens are great for web browsing and a few other apps and they make good additions but they cannot replace a keypad. The other, especially with the Driod, is the price of the data plan. Pretty much any AT&T data plan is cresting $100 a month and that’s just too damn much, Sprint will get me by cheaper. If there was a phone out there that I really loved I could talk myself into the extra coin but I haven’t found a phone that isn’t lacking a major feature or has no usage issues. Plus, I kinda like the slightly smaller size of the Pre, the Droid and iPhone are huge, heavy hunks of glass and metal that I’m not thrilled about lugging around in a pocket.

This’ll probably factor into your plans, then: when you buy the Pre, you’ll need to also upgrade to an unlimited-data plan. Sprint’s “absolutely everything” plan is right at $100 a month. If you’re willing to take a plan with limited minutes and texting, you should be able to get away with less. It looks like right now, 450 minutes would be about $70, and 900 about $90. I’m on an Everything Data Family plan, for my phone plus my wife’s; we both get unlimited data and texting, no roaming charges, free nights and weekends plus free calling to any mobile phone, and 1500 shared minutes, for $130. I can’t remember any month we ever went over 600 minutes between us, so it suits us pretty well.

Speaker and ringer can be set pretty darn LOUD. And I’m notoriously hard to wake up. For max volume, make sure the speaker’s facing up, of course, or at least not blocked (it’s not blocked by the Touchstone).

I know what you mean about size. My Pre fits nicely in my pocket, like a pebble. I barely feel the weight.

Great to hear about the ringer. A+.

I talked to the Sprint Store folks and they quoted me a $70 unlimited plan with an additional corporate partner discount option. I assumed they meant everything, but maybe it included just 450 minutes. Either way I don;t care, that’s fine for me since that’s what my current plan is and I don’t use it all. Plus IIRC that 450 only applies to calls to land lines between 7am and 7pm, mobile to mobile and nights and weekends are free.

One big hiccup seems to be that you can get the Pre for $80 at Walmart and Amazon, but the Sprint Store wants $149 for it. I’ll have to fight with them on that, as far as I can tell there’s no benefit to buying directly from Sprint.

Damn. How much is Sprint? I thought T-Mobile was the cheapest.

I have AT&T with an iPhone and my total bill is 79 per month. But, I don’t have any of the unlimited voice or text options just unlimited data and 5 bucks for a bunch of texts per month.

I thought the Sprint Samsung android option had a slideout qwerty keyboard. Have you tried that? Also, have you tried the on screen keyboards? Before trying out my phone I thought they would be crap but after getting it I find I have no problem at all with it. In fact, I prefer it over the blackberries/winmo qwerties I have used in the past.

Ah! 80 bucks? I had no idea the Pre was so cheap! That’s a huge chip in it’s argument. Is that with a mail in rebate? If so you might even avoid that if you get it from Best Buy.

both the phone and the stone get warm. I might even say the phone gets hot. Not enough to be uncomfortable, I use the phone straight off the stone with no problems, but warm enough to notice. That is a nice thing about the stone-it is integrated into the phone apps. If it is on the stone and a call comes in, it uses the speaker by default. Since the phone is set right next to my computer when the phone rings one quick swipe with my finger and I am chatting away.

The Samsung Moment has a real keyboard. Fortunately the salesman at Sprint was quick to tell my wife it was coming in a month or they would have been picking the pieces of the touchscreen droid out of the carpet. She hated the touchscreen keyboard on the one example of an Android phone they had in the store at the time. We came back in a month and got the moment. I like both keyboards-I am somewhat partial to the Pre’s keybrd.

The Pre is definitely smaller and fits quite well into one’s hand. But there is no such thing as a free lunch-smaller phone means smaller battery. The Pre runs out of juice first. Course I use the data a lot more than my wife does, but clearly the battery doesn’t last as long. A full day with minimal phone use and standby. Plan on charging it by 5 if you use a lot of data during the day.

Oh, as least on mine the GPS receiver is wimpy. I get “signal is weak” and it refuses to update the map. Other phones in the car suck it up and guess. Usually they are right…
I got the everything plan which costs me $200/mnth for 4 phones. So while high, it is a pretty good deal on average.

The Samsung Android Moment has a slideout keyboard.
The HTC Android Hero (which we looked at first) does not.

The chick at the store quoted me $69.99 plus an additional discount of 27% for a “corporate partnership” which would basically wipe out the “taxes and fees” that are bundled in there so you would end up with a final bill of close to $70/month.

Well, it’s $80 on Amazon. Supposedly that requires a “new line” and isn’t eligible for upgrades according to the chick at the store. Sprint’s website and store both charge $149 with a 2-year contract. I went into the store tonight expecting them to match the price but they wouldn’t, I’m not sure what would happen if I contacted Amazon and bought the phone as if I were a new customer considering my contract has been expired for like 5 years.

Anyways, I was expecting to be toting a new Pre tonight but no luck. The fact that they wouldn’t match the $80 price annoyed me and the girl proceeded to tell me how crappy the Pre is and how many people they get coming back into the store with broken ones. She was trying to steer me to the Samsung Moment but that thing is just much bigger than I want and more expensive. I like the Android phones generally, but I don’t like the size.

She was telling me that if you get a phone from Amazon that you can’t get service from a Sprint store. That sounded absurd to me, anyone know the deal? Also, if you don’t buy the insurance policy do are you really on the hook for $550 to replace the fucking thing? I thought you could pay to get it repaired.

Anyways, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’m really averse to signing a 2-year contract for a phone that supposedly breaks. I bought one of those service policies back in the day and ended up paying $5 extra bucks a month for about 4 years and when I finally used it they nailed me with a $45 deductible to simply replace a 4 year old phone with a refurbished version of the same.

God I hate cell phone companies and their shady business practices. Now I remember why I’ve hung onto this old ass phone for so long.

And yes, I’ve used the touch screen keyboards. I have a 1st-gen iPhone that’s not connected to anything that I use as a iPod Touch. They suck mightily. The iPhone’s seems to be the best of the lot, but that’s not saying much. Reading the gobbledey-gook that my friends text me half the time from theirs does nothing to improve my opinion of them. Never ever.

That CES is this Thursday and Palm is expected to announce something big does absolutely nothing to motivate me to buy now. But I really need a phone…

That sucks. It seems to me that Sprint is probably pushing the Samsung now that the word is out that the pre is no longer a Sprint exclusive. I also suspect that Sprint has a vested interest in the Samsung since a lot of their branded apps are a mandatory part of the OS (NASCAR and some other thing.).

I think you are screwed regarding the existing customer fees. I seem to remember a lot of people were pissed off when the phone first came out regarding how they were screwing over existing customers.

How about a Blackberry? They don’t seem to have many hardware complaints. They aren’t as hefty as the iPhone. And, aside from the Storm they use qwerty keyboards. That meets your standards.

It sounds like she was really itching for a commission. I don’t think you qualify for the amazon deal, but the idea that Sprint wouldn’t service a customer’s device based on where it was bought is absurd. Going by that I wouldn’t trust her word on the hardware returns.

Good luck. I look forward to hearing what you decide.
(Just to be an ass this post was composed on the iPhone).

ps:
Yeah. I hate cell phone companies. All of them. I am hoping the emergence of consumers more interested in the hardware than the service will slowly but surely push things towards a happy consumer. But, it’s going to take a long time to get a happier place.

I would agree with this but I don’t think the 23 year old chick at the Sprint store is savvy or informed enough to draw these conclusions. Then again, I’m not sure how their commission is constructed. Maybe they get a bigger bonus for moving a Samsung Moment instead of a Pre.

The comments about the fragility of the Pre are probably accurate, but I’m a pretty light user. I’ve had a Katana for close to 4 years now and I had a Samsung and LG phone each for probably 4 and 2 years before that. In all that time I’ve never lost a phone and only had to get repairs twice. It makes me nervous considering this is a $550 phone to replace if it’s lost, but my track record is pretty good.

Yeah, maybe. I went through the order process on Amazon just to see what the final total would be and when they ask for your number to migrate they apparently cross reference it apparently and raise the price on you. It’s still cheaper than the Sprint store, but I think it went up to $135. There was a $36 activation fee but I’m not sure if that was included in that $135 or if it would be added later as an additional charge on your bill. In any case, still cheaper than Sprint and it’s sales tax free.

However there’s an interesting development. In Amazon the Palm Pre is not listed as “Currently Unavailable”. Not sure what to make of that, it doesn’t seem to be an out of stock issue though. Wonder if this is a pre-CES thing.

Had one that I carried for work for a few years, it was a 8703e. Great phone, I liked it a lot for business and messaging, but the media and web features were awful and modern BBs don’t really improve on it. If someone gave me a BB I’d be happy with it but I can’t imagine paying $150 and signing a contract for a current gen BB for personal use. If I’m just going to text and talk, which is all a BB would be good for for me, then I might as well just get a basic non-smartphone and avoid paying for the mandatory monthly data plan package. Plus when I get another 9-5 job, hopefully very soon, there’s a pretty high probability they’ll stick me with a BB anyways…why buy one.

Yeah. I’m curious what the fine print is on hardware issues. They said I could get my non-warrantied uninsured Katana “fixed” for $100. If I had a under contract Pre that was broken but out of warranty and uninsured would I really need to buy a new one at full price or could I get it “fixed” for $100?

Gonna go to Best Buy today and hassle the sales person to see what numbers they give me. It’ll be interesting. At this point I’m almost going to just drag my feet until Thursday so see what Palm has to announce. If they are coming out with a Palm Pre Plus that has solved many of the build issues I might hold out for that and hack together something in the meantime.

They suck ass, but I’m not sure how different or better the situation would be if there were no contracts. Suppose the government banned binding contracts on cell phones, would new awesome phones come out every couple months? Would people pay $400 for them? Would our monthly data plans come down $20-30 bucks a month?

I started rooting around my junk drawer to look at my old phones and found a LG enV2 that was in the lost and found. It’s a Verizon phone but I could probably switch over to them temporarily and avoid a contract while waiting for a new Pre, if that’s in the making.

We shall see.

Well, Palm announced the new version of the device, the Palm Pre Plus today. Seems to be an incremental improvement to the device with a lot of software updates in tow. Early reports say the build is better. It’s available January 25th. No reports on pricing.

This is a big monkey in my wrench. I was planning on setting up my old enV2 on Verizon but now I’m paranoid that existing Verizon customers won’t be eligible for subsidized pricing. I’d be pissed if I went to Verizon for all of 18 days and that excluded me from access to the Pre Plus.

Also I don’t know what the pricing will be or what the cheapest Verizon dataplan is. The situation has gotten trickier.