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back to article iPhone v Pre - the celebrity smartphone deathmatch

Two top-of-the-line smartphones were released in June: the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3GS. If you're eyeing them, you'll have to choose one or the other - no one in their right mind owns more than one smartphone. So which one is worthy of your pocket or purse? To answer this question - and since it can be easily argued that I'm not …

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Grenade

DXO Labs

After having experienced DXO's attempts at providing imaging solutions for serious photography, I'd say their involvement with the Pre has to rate as a negative. They certainly know how to pile on the hype though.

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Anonymous Coward

Ummm...

You can delete (and move) multiple emails at a time on the iPhone. That was added back in 2.0. No need to delete them one by one - just tap the edit button in the message list.

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Dead Vulture

So it's iPhone vs Pre because...?

"But first a bit of business to ward off enraged fans of the BlackBerry Storm, HTC Magic, Nokia N97, Samsung Omnia, LG Viewty, and others - or, for that matter, even connoisseurs of a finally aged Motorola MicroTAC. Yes, there are other fine phones in the world, but this article isn't about them. This is a point-by-point smackdown: the Palm Pre versus the iPhone 3GS."

So your reason for it being an iPhone vs Pre comparison is because it is an iPhone vs Pre comparison...

What logic. What a defence. You must win so many discussions with that.

Oh, and didn't you read/notice the "Ten of the best... iPhone beaters" article on here only a couple of days ago? Which included the iPhone and ummm Pre...

Honestly, are you guys getting kick backs for every time you w*nk on about the iPhone? Is it a slow news week cos you can't justify a Jackson story like the rest of the planet?

Come on, admit it... Which one of you has no longer got a liver?

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Bronze badge

Odd

Isn't slightly inconsistend that Apple do iPhone firmware upgrades for free but charge for OS X increments on their Macs?

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iPhone Calendar

Just a note... the iPhone calendar does have the ability to display a daily calendar...

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Pint

Wow Rik

Normally I would have to say your a fanboi for Apple. But to be honest this is one of the best and unbiased reviews(?) I have read from anyone in a long time. I commend you Rik for what is a rather

well written and unobjective approach to this. I may not agree with what you say 99% of the time because of you sounding biased as all hell but this, I have to say, may make me not hate you so much :P

Hats off to you Rik, keep it coming and I may not bitch about your articles so much.

/This beer is for you.

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Flame

Very odd music playback score?

Your music playback section universally falls on the iPhone side, until you hit the fact that the pre can get back to the music player in one click fewer than the iPhone can (or rather, a click, rather than a double click). I really don't get how that tallies up? Is a single click really that much more efficient than a double click? So much more important that it trumps people who listen to classical music actually being able to select a composer; being able to use playlists you create on the device, and having a better speaker?

Finally, hey... you have a multitasking section... that's what it's for, if the pre's multitasking really is that much of an advantage. Oh, you did? Good, leave it there :)

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Troll

@So it's iPhone vs Pre because...?

Not sulking in the corner I hope?

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Ty
Jobs Halo

hheheh funny

In less than a year no one will remember what a Pre is!

The iPhone however will be the dominant mobile computing platform for years to come.

What a stupid article.

N97?! ROFL

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Keyboard = Full Screen

grr, another one! Yet another review that fails to point out one big advantage/disadvantage to physical v virtual keyboards. The display! On every virtual keyboard to date you loose anywhere from 33-70% of the screen.

Which means all the fancy UI gets covered and you get about 2-4 lines of text in, just like an old school nokia ...wonderful progress that!

The Pre's keyboard may not be the best but at least you can still see the email/text/web page your typing your reply to!

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FAIL

Have to agree with AC @ 05:12

When are you guys going to start acting consistently? Why not do a 4-way review comparing the four (now) major smartphone platforms (Android/Magic, WinMo/TPro2, iPhone, Palm Pre)? You could even include a blackberry.

Plus this review is full of vague subjective rubbish. For example:

"Battery: Although I didn't run any well-defined benchmark testing" WTF? You also go on to rate the pre because it has a removable battery. Who cares? How many people actually buy a replacement or 2nd battery for their smartphones? Maybe 5%? It's utterly irrelevant - all that counts is battery life, period.

"Now that that's over with, let's admit that there's no competition in this category at all. The iPhone has over 50,000 third-party apps available in the iTunes App Store, and Palm hasn't even released a Pre SDK yet." Okay, so there's no SDK, but it's a NEW PRODUCT. D'uh. Go and see the rate of change of iPhone apps for the last 2 years. Android is following a similar trend. Palm will probably be the same.

"That said, if you're in your right mind you're going to buy only one smartphone." Yes, probably the iPhone. Or maybe an HTC Magic or a Hero. Or maybe a Touch Pro 2. Oh, wait, that's not one smartphone, that's 3.

Come on el reg, just put the kleenex away and start treating the iPhone as "one of the options", not "the only option".

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Pint

@bazza

No, because no-one charges you a monthly fee to use your Mac.

Remember, Apple gets a slice of your iPhone contract every month (at least from some carriers).

It's the same reason that you had to pay for the OS update for the iPod Touch.

Paul

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Omission?

I think the cost of owning each one should be part of the deathmatch/smackdown.

Is it worth saving $1200 in a two year contract/period on a Palm pre?

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A third option

Well balanced, well written. Thanks.

Now I'm inspired to..., just hang on to my iPhone 3G.

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Grenade

Cue the comments...

"iphone is overpriced vs xxxxx"

- god, not this again.

"but my xxxx can do yyyyy, and the iphone can't - it must be rubbish"

- Good for you. Top trumps was never my games anyway; let me respond with....zzzzzz.....

"The iphone can't even do MMS or cut-and-paste"

- So what if they were late with it; it's there now, innit?

"The iphone's got a Non-removable battery, and therefore the spawn of Satan"

-...again....zzzzz....in other news 98% of consumers don't replace their batteries. Kudos on you getting into the 2%. How's the weather up there?

"The iphone..."

- You know what? I can't be bothered. It's transparently obvious you won't let this lie, so I think I'll just respond with *meh*.

envy? Jealously? Can't stand to admit that actually, Apple might have done ok? Oh yes, I can smell it from here.

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The Play/Pause question

The iPhone can pause with a click of the button on the headset - which is pretty quick.

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Silver badge

What?

No mention of the "likely to spontaneously combust, and as you can't remove the battery, you're gonna have to chuck the whole thing into a bucket of sand and watch it melt." category?

Re the iPhone apps... 50,000 apps... Woo... How many of them are actually useful?!

Plus, would a Pre owner, unlike a Jesus phone owner, be allowed to have an app showing naked boobies on the phone he owns and has paid for?

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Silver badge

@AC 7:09

It's fantastic watching you argue with yourself...

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Thumb Up

Great article

Glad to see some honest reporting instead of what you get in the business rags. This is what I expect from el Reg. Concise, to the point, not afraid to have informed opinions/judgments.

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WTF?

inaccurate

"Two top-of-the-line smartphones were released in June"

If you live in a selected pre launch country. iPhone avail in Australia, Pre nowhere to be seen. Pity.

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FAIL

Missed the most important comparison

The iPhone and the Pre may be the saviours of humanity, best thing since sliced bread blah blah blah, but unless you reference the network, any comparison is pointless. As I understand it, in the UK and Ireland the Pre is going to be an 02 exclusive, along with the iPhone, which means I can't have either, so Blackberry or Android "win".

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Silver badge

Although its no blackberry or WM phone..

How about ease of use in connecting to IMAP sources and syncing with exchange servers? As our company refuses to pay blackberry tax we are pretty much forced to use WM phones to get our OMA IMAP fix.

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O2 a problem

Just thought I'd point out that where I live the IPhone is a non starter because there is no O2 coverage. Until its available on other networks I won't be getting one

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Thumb Up

Excellent but not perfect

This was an excellent article, well written even if US spellings and terms were annoying (come on, who in Europe understood "My fingers are as insensitive as keilbasa." ?).

I disagree with the battery comment (I've never replaced a cellphone battery, and I've been using mobile phones since 1991 so get used to charging my phone overnight.).

I also think the article has a couple of flaws:

1) Battery life - I'd like to understand if multitasking on the Pre does indeed reduce battery life significantly

2) Cost/availability - I don't know how much a Pre would cost over a 2 year period or when it's going to be available in the UK or Europe

3) Other features - e.g. what about this new "Touchstone" technology with the Pre - is it any good ?

Other than that, this article did indeed seem unbiased and was enjoyable to read. As a side point, the review of the Pre and Apple camera phones needs amending to point out the Pre was defective.

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Anonymous Coward

Multi-tasking

The article perpetuates a misconception about the iPhone OS (that it isn't very capable of multi-tasking). This is patently false - it is OS X for fucks sake, so it is incredibly **capable** of multi-tasking. What it isn't currently **able** to do is multi-task other than for a few select apps because Apple made the (correct at the time) design choices to restrict it for the sake of (a) application stability (due to much more severe CPU and RAM constraints than are available in the Pré and 3GS) and (b) security. Regardless of the limitations it imposes one of the huge bonuses the one sandboxed app at a time paradigm provides is rock solid security. Prediction - the Pré will be a lot, lot easier to hack than the iPhone at next years pwn2own contest.

What is apparent is that with the original iPhone release and 3G release, the hardware was not capable enough to support what is presumably a "heavier" OS than the Pré's. I imagine that the 3GS is likely to be able to support multi-tasking apps absolutely fine once Apple releases an iPhone OS version with the restriction lifted, probably next year or the one after that.

Anyway, a good review other than that one point. However, the advantage for multi-tasking still lies with the Pré in spite of what I wrote above. Security has suffered for it though.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Cue the comments / AC

That was quite a long 'meh'.

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aPPZ

i dont know how you can compare 3rd Appz with a phone that been out for years and and one that hasnt ?

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Flame

RE: What?

Steve Evans wrote: "No mention of the "likely to spontaneously combust, and as you can't remove the battery, you're gonna have to chuck the whole thing into a bucket of sand and watch it melt." category?

Umm, it gets a little hot but these "melting" rumours were fuelled by the moron who kept his under his pillow playing tunes all night.

If you're that stupid then a good burning now and again might be what you need to learn your lesson...

Fire because there isn't any, it's all a myth

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Let's all get along!

The iPhone is great. Pound for pound it's probably the best consumer device you can buy - the apex of hardware, software and infrastructure integration, for the moment. Well done Apple.

Knowing this, I still don't have one and I'm going to be first in line for a GSM Pre once it's available unlocked on these shores.

Silly? Maybe, but I guess we just like what we like.

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Thumb Up

Thanks Rik

Great article Rik. A comparative review of genuine utility and even-handedness. So much better than the usual Register review-fare. Please take note El Reg.

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WTF?

You call this a review?

You laugh at application availabity for Palm Pre...

... yet the iPhone has been out for 2 years or so?

You think that might be the reason?

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Stop

@AC 6:46

Lets not include the Blackberry, as the Storm is absolutley crap.

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@ Danny 14

I set up my iPhone with our Exchange server in 30 seconds, syncing works perfectly. My previous phone (Sony Ericsson w950i) took half a day to get working and still had trouble with the SSL certificates. IMAP with Google is even easier.

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Troll

Replacing batteries

Just a point, batteries (in my opinion) tend to be the first part of the phone to go so if you're going to keep your phone for 2 / 3 years and not upgrade it to the latest and greatest model as soon as it is released being able to change the battery is going to be a big plus.....

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Gold badge

Thanks for this - *perfect* timing

You covered more or less all the points I was looking at, and with the encryption and the ability to remotely reformat the phone it is now possible to go for decent business use (although I will not use the locator - I'm not fond of an uncontrolled 3rd party keeping location data as I don't know what they do with it.

I have a personal phone, Sony Ericsson p1i, and 3G iPhone supplied by the company I'm contracting to. As the company contract is ending I have to hand the 3G back, and the v3 upgrade has made it useful. The aging p1i has UIQ 3 which is no longer supported, so I think I'll shell out for the 3G S at the end of its contract, also because I've been an iPod user for quite a while, and the iPhone can live in a suit pocket without making it hang too much.

The only remaining challenge for me is to find a replacement for the Most Useful App Ever on the p1i: the business card OCR program. It can extract contact data from an amazing amount of formats, but I suspect that may already be somewhere on the app store - just haven't looked yet.

Oh, and the p1i camera makes better pics than the 3G manages, I hope the one in the *G S is doing a better job than the 3G..

Last but not least, the iPhone has an app called TapForms - IMHO an absolute winner. A simple but usable database has been lacking from most platforms for quite some time, and TapForms appears to fit the bill, although I hope they bring out a PC and Mac desktop companion soon. It's IMHO excellent stuff , and the first time I have seen something that rivals the usability of what Psion supplied on the Organiser II all the way up to the S5.

So there - iPhone for me. Yes, I know I'll pay extra per month, to me that is worth it.

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Anonymous Coward

fed up

with iphone vs' pre

here, in camera comparisson article...

how about somethign else for a change...

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FAIL

C'mon!

Folks, I really, REALLY don't care whether you like the keyboard or not. Both implementations will have their individual pros and cons, it's all up to personal preference. What would actually be relevant information: does the Pre or the latest iPhone FINALLY manage to sync and display calendar and contact CATEGORIES (say from iCal and Address Book or whatever) properly? It is quite important to be able to tell things apart.

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Would love to disagree...

I enjoyed reading this article very much however I hate to point out that the review is iphone biased. I will explain my thoughts.

- Size & Weight

Pre is not pocketable? So you rather fit a soap dish than a soap in your pocket? Very much doubt that. Pre wins

- Fit & Finish

Pre may feel more plastic (iphone has it better here) but when it comes looking at the screen there are screen film covers. I have one for all my phones, my ipod, and if I had an iphone I would get one for it too. Also the glass makes the device more heavy. Pre wins

- Keyboard

Well you moan here about not being able to rotate the screen. Fair enough. However when you rotate the screen and have the virtual keyboard out how much of the screen is actually visible. Cause when you are viewing a movie you do not use the keyboard. Draw.

- Display

iphone has a bigger screen but again it comes down to the soap dish vs soap principle. How many of you take your iphone to the pub and sit down with it being in your pocket? Cause none of my friends who own one can do that. Draw.

- USB Drive

Agree here. Isn't it annoying to be limited on how to use your device? Pre wins.

- Battery

You change change your battery? You break down in the middle of nowhere and you forgot to recharge your phone. You are doomed !!! Pre wins.

- Still camera & Image Playback

I agree with you here. I hate pre-rendered images. I hope Palm release a fix on adjusting the sharpness here or maybe some 3rd party app will fix it. iPhone wins.

- Video capture

Palm got it all wrong here. Again Im waiting for a free hack to fix this. iPhone wins.

- Video Playback

I would expect some hardware comparison here and some benchmarks really. What is not mentioned is that the WebOS is based on a linux core so more codex will be supported. I do not think this easy to do on the iPhone. Draw for the moment.

- Audio Recording

Palm needs to look at these small things. I agree it is retarded. iPhone wins but wait a month and there will be an app for this like on older Palms.

- Audio Playback

Agree with you.

- Phone Operation

The ring tone can be changed. Also you have vibration. Regarding the visual voicemail notifications it does NOT supported by most carriers. How many times have you been roaming where you can use that feature? That is false. I think that the best way to do this is to incorporate both methods. The "old style" is so 20th century? Well aren't all phones using the same style? I wonder why....support is the answer. Pre wins.

- Multitasking

Welcome to the king of devices. True multitasking finally arrives on a handheld device. Pre wins.

- User Interface

I think the Palm interface is better designed. There is a "home" button on the pre too. Because apple was making mac OS for years it doesn't mean by default they can design a better gui for a handheld device. This is a myth. At the end of the day Palm was making PDA's since 1996. Pre wins.

- Searchability

I do not like how you do not have much control over synergy. However it is a great way to merge contacts. Universal search can be modified to add new search engines and sites etc. Nothing out there can beat those two features. This is so PC like. Sorry to say this but what kind of "retard" would just search on the word "in" ? What do you expect to get back when you type "in" into Google? =) Pre wins.

- Apps & SDK

Impossible to compare since iphone has been out for a few years while the Pre just got launched. However do you go via microsoft when you buy apps for your pc? Why does Apple have to control what you can add onto your phone? This is the most ridiculous way to distribute and "approve" software. Also there is no mention about the Classic app. For all current Palm users out there it means that you have access to your legacy apps (1million vs 50000? Don't make me laugh...). New applications will follow too. Since this comparison is a punch under the belt, then I have to break your ankles !!! Pre wins.

Am I bias for the Pre? Maybe...for years I have waited for a killer PDA/Phone device. iPhone never did it for me, neither did the Blackberry's. I do have an ipod and I did have a mac so it's nothing against Apple. Simply when it comes to PDA's the King is back and that is Palm. This is not an iphone killer. It is a phone with very good PDA capabilities. Something that the Treo's failed to deliver. The Pre may not be the best device for the "everyday" user and your friend's may have found it hard to get used of it. It's like comparing Linux with Windows OS. We all know Windows and can use it, but which one would you put in a Nuclear Reactor? =)

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FAIL

@Steve Evans

Clearly you are not a fan of Apple or their products. That's fine. It is after all your right, except - you've no idea about how the Pre actually functions other than conjecture and hearsay on teh interweb (evidently, the same is true about the iPhone). First, if a handset is "likely to spontaneously combust", then chucking it in a bucket of sand regardless of the brand is all you can do. I certainly wouldn't risk 2nd and 3rd degree burns removing the battery - perhaps you didn't think that through. This whole user replaceable battery stuff is just bollocks frankly. Battery technology is improving at an incredible rate, and the need to replace batteries is diminishing year on year. Environmentally, this is a good thing. Yes, they could do with holding charge longer - but that's as much to do with component engineering as anything else. I have found that the phone does get warm when using it for extended periods - then so do other small devices (and not so small - my 17" Dell notebook can be used to fry eggs after 30 minutes of net surfing on battery...). Certainly the majority of mobile phones I've owned have got really hot when I've had call longer then 10 minutes. The reasons for this are easily understood with GCSE level physics...

Second - the App store. Have you ever looked (it's obvious that you haven't tried any iPhone apps) at the App store? There are plenty of professional based and extremely good quality apps on the App store. Yes you have to pay for some of them. It's funny that the "loads of applications" argument is leveraged when Windows vs. Mac argument is in full swing as a reason why Windows is better, but the minute it's used in Apple's favour we get a sarcastic "Woo..." Double standards? Again, your views seem to be based on hearsay and conjecture rather than ant kind of fact, but I understand how that would undermine your "Apple are evil - everyone should use Linux/Microsoft" rhetoric. I haven't seen anyone call it a "jesusphone" for ages...

It would have been nice to see the Reg handle the initial release of the iPhone with the same "hey - it's the first release so well cut 'em some slack" style unbiased review. After all, Palm have been boasting about how great a device the Pre is - and I personally don't doubt that it *will* be. I suppose that it's not editorial policy though, is it? To be fair, the review is reasonably unbiased, with a few misnomers already pointed out. It's nice to see something coming to market that'll give iPhone a run for it's money. It can only be good for the consumer.

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@Steve Evans

"Re the iPhone apps... 50,000 apps... Woo... How many of them are actually useful?!"

Thousands of them. The point is there are so many apps in the AppStore that there's almost certainly one (probably more than one) that exists for anything "useful" you might want to have an app for.

"Plus, would a Pre owner, unlike a Jesus phone owner, be allowed to have an app showing naked boobies on the phone he owns and has paid for?"

So, an app that shows naked boobies is an example of what you consider a "useful" app??

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multitasking

Of course the iPhone has a multitasking OS. 99% of users don't even know what that means, and it's not appropriate to let them start and forget numerous applications which then flatten the battery unexpectedly. The geek Reg reader can just jailbreak. For the kind of obsessive control freak who always has a fully charged spare battery in his pocket and thinks changing batteries is convenient, the Pre has a small advantage. (several battery-cum case products are available for iPhone, so all is not lost).

WebOS only runs Javascript apps. Good luck rewriting your app (eg turn by turn navigation) in Javascript.

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Boffin

Balanced review

Pretty good attempt at a balanced review, and one i heartily agree with. iPhone is an excellent bit of kit.

Now go review the Samsung S8000!

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Anonymous Coward

iPhone Background Apps

I thought it was a good article but I think you've skipped over the reason why the iPhone doesn't allow multiple apps to be running at the same time. Of course there are few apps that run in the background by default (iPod, Mail etc), Apple specifically stated that they didn't want to allow multiple applications running in the background because it would be a drain on the battery. Plus it's a security risk etc. That was a pain for a while, but now that OS 3.0 supports push notifications you can get the effect of background applications without the drain on resources.

For example, I have BeeJive installed on my iPhone which allows me to chat via MSN. Before I had to either keep the app open constantly or have it push an email alert notifying me that I'd received new messages (which was never instantaneous). With OS 3.0, an alert will instantly pop up on my screen as soon as someone messages me, even if I haven't got the app open. Personally I think that's far better than having to actively keep certain apps running in the background (indeed, what if you forgot to launch the app if you rebooted your phone? With the iPhone that wouldn't be an issue as you'd get the push notification regardless).

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Stop

J2ME

Does the Palm run J2ME apps?

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Keyboards

Surely the keyboard thing trumps everything? I've tried the Pre; seeing as you have to do most things using the keyboard, and using the keyboard is akin to hammering pinheads with a sledgehammer, I really don't care what it can do because making it do them is excruciating.

The iPhone on the other hand, as someone has already commented, may have a nice useable keyboard but you can't see what you're typing when you're using it.

They're both shite.

I'll stick with my ancient LG with its keys so big an arthritic elephant could dial numbers. That's what I call a useable UI.

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Thumb Down

iPhone KB?

The iPhone KB is still anything but perfect as far as rotating into landscape goes. It may rotate very nicely when it comes to most things but there are still the odd few (for instance, entering passwords) places where it doesn't. Why is this? I was praying for this with 3.0 and still not there.

In the end, the 3.0 update turned out to be a bit disapointing really.

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Stop

Fanboys on both sides

"Your music playback section universally falls on the iPhone side, until you hit the fact that the pre can get back to the music player in one click fewer than the iPhone can"

Oh come on, that's hardly the same thing. Double-click just brings up the play/pause/next/previous controls. You can't really use the iPod app to browse your music etc without quitting the app you're in. Let's be honest, you and I would love the iPhone to multitask like the Pre does.

"i dont know how you can compare 3rd Appz with a phone that been out for years and and one that hasnt ?"

Give me strength. How about comparing the situation as it stands today? Otherwise, what's the bloody point in a comparative review? If I want to run 3rd party apps, it's a nonsense to rate the Pre as highly as the iPhone based upon what may happen in the future.

It's like saying application availability isn't an advantage for Windows over, say, Haiku because Haiku's only been around for a while and doesn't have many developers yet. It's a lame argument that only the most biased commentator would adopt.

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Anonymous Coward

Melting

"Umm, it gets a little hot but these "melting" rumours were fuelled by the moron who kept his under his pillow playing tunes all night."

It may be a myth but you're doing your argument no good. I wouldn't consider myself a moron if I fell asleep with music playing, and I wouldn't be impressed with my phone if it melted doing so!

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Anonymous Coward

iYawn

"But first a bit of business to ward off enraged fans of the BlackBerry Storm, HTC Magic, Nokia N97, Samsung Omnia, LG Viewty, and others - or, for that matter, even connoisseurs of a finally aged Motorola MicroTAC. Yes, there are other fine phones in the world, but this article isn't about them."

Because , uh they might show up some of the shortcomings of the iphone ? Admittedly - I only have the "old" 3g ... but still severely lacking on some areas.

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Fingers

Rik, if you're comparing your fingers' insensitivity to that of a smoked sausage of Polish origin, the word is "kielbasa".

Nice article by the way.

Where oh where did Nokia lose it...?

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