I picked up this phone about a month ago now, so I think I've had enough experiences to give this phone a thorough review. First things first, not sure if it was just part of their launch strategy, but the Palm Pre price of $199 was cheaper than any of the Blackberry's Bell was offering at the time (with a 3 year contract that is), and since I owned a TREO some years ago and was pretty happy with my old brick, I decided to pick this as my phone of choice when it came time to get a new contract.
The packaging was nice, although I was used to getting a bible user guide with other phones I purchased in the past, where in this case they decided to only include a quick start guide. In order to view the bible, you have to download a PDF online. Yay to Palm for saving a few hundred thousand trees, this is the type of corporate responsibility we need to see from more manufacturers.
The function of the phone was very easy to learn, the "gestures" for navigating and using the interface was mastered within a few hours of use. I did have to re-read the instruction card for a few of the advanced functions like copy and paste, but overall once you get it, it becomes second nature. The ability to have more than one application open at once? Priceless, this was the one feature that sold me right away when comparing to the iphone. The application choices are nothing compared to the iphone so far, but apple does have a 3 year head start and I'm already starting to see some cool stuff show up on the Palm App store. One of the neatest things was the palm pre youtube experience, with Bell's 3g network the downloads were fantastically fast and flawless.
The charge time on the Palm Pre isn't that great though, so she's a bit of a pig... based on average usage, if I take the phone off the charger at 7 AM and leave it off for the full day, by 11 or midnight it's out of juice. There are some aftermarket replacement batteries that can extend charge time (one triples the charge time, but also triples the phone thickness), but I'm going to wait to see if the once or twice this has annoyed me becomes more frequent.
Setting up email though my ms-exchange host was simple, I can access and manage email everywhere which is awesome, and with my bell package of unlimited bandwidth on their 3g network, I never have any problems staying connected anywhere in my home town.
The construction is great, it has a great tactile feel, the buttons on the keyboard are a little small, but the slider is smooth as silk and the touch screen interface is perfect. I did have an issue where one day I noticed my screen portion started being able to turn about 5 millimeters clockwise (like it was loose on the track). There was nothing I could do to fix it, and thankfully I picked up the $7 a month no questions asked insurance through bell since they sent me a replacement phone with 2 business days. Moving all of your data over using the new Palm Profile was super easy, the only things I have to manually move were my photos and my music.
Bell also had an offer where you could either choose the free Leather case or for a couple of dollars more receive the touchstone charger. Now the touchstone I thought was cool, it's basically a base that looks like a paperweight with a magnet, you replace the back of your palm with the "touchstone back plate" and from that point on you just lay your phone on the charger and it automatically locks in place with the magnet and starts charging just by touch (proximity coil). Very cool and convenient, have it set up by my desk so while I'm working my palm lays at a slight angle right beside my monitor giving me any updates on incoming calls or text messages I received. I initially set this up on my bedside night able, but I kept hearing a faint buzzing electrical noise while charging, having this thing buzzing all night within one foot of my head while I slept just made me too uncomfortable... call me paranoid but I've read of less causing tumors.
I have to say this is one of the best phones I've ever owned, and I have had many over the years. Great job Palm now if only you could incent some developers to pump out some better applications!
Update On Nov 08, 2009: Just added three images taken with the pre's camera... one is of the packaging, the other is of the touchstone charger beside my Jawbone headset, and the third is of the touchstone backplate beside the regular one. Adds no extra weight or thickness whatsoever, allthought he matte finish of the touchstone versus the polished look for the regular is in my opinion WAY better (and hide's fingerprints better).
Update On Mar 13, 2010: Palm's Web OS update 1.4 was released today, which included the new ability to record and edit videos. This also includes editing, which is pretty awesome for a cell phone, and a one click post to Youtube, Facebook, email or SMS. I've just uploaded a short video I took with the phone today so you can check it out. It's pretty dark and grainy since the lighting in the room wasn't so hot, not sure why it wouldn't allow you to use the built in flash full time... can anyone say feature request?