This review is based on our experience with the European version of the Palm Pre 2. The device is also expected to become available with Verizon in the US.
The Palm Pre and Pixi marked a bittersweet moment for Palm. Even though the Pre and Pixi were critically acclaimed smartphones, which offered the convenience of a contemporary OS with exceptional functionality and true multi-tasking capabilities, sadly, they couldn't prevent Palm from going under and eventually become absorbed by HP. Under HP's wing however, Palm has consolidated its technologies with HP's market presence and brought forward their latest device, the Palm Pre 2.
The Palm 2 Pre adopts an almost identical form factor to the original Pre, with a pebble like design, curved black styling and a portrait slide out QWERTY keyboard. The keys on the Palm Pre 2 are improved over the original Pre and the phone is also slightly thinner, however, for the most part, you'd be forgiven for not seeing a difference without the phones side-by-side. The handset has a glossy fascia with a matted rubberized backing. Slide up the screen to reveal the QWERTY keyboard and a reflective mirror panel on the back of the screen part.
Housing a relatively small capacitive touch screen for a smart-phone at 3.1 inches and with a resolution of 320x480 pixels, the Palm Pre 2's display isn't the sharpest out there, though it gets the job done, being responsive to the touch and offering good viewing angles. Colours look good for the most part and while the display isn't AMOLED, it nevertheless produces relatively good blacks and a vivid picture. Given the size and aspect ratio, movies aren't ideal on the Palm Pre 2, though it's perfect for YouTube and other light video experiences. The screen cover presents the greatest design differentiator from the original Pre, since it is now flat, instead of curved.
The phone has 3.1 inch capacitive touch screen
Other physical elements include a touch sensitive horizontal capacitive strip below the screen. The fascia is glossy, but not to the point of reflective and viewing outdoors is in turn good for the most part. Directly above the screen is the in-call speaker and below the screen to the right is the microphone. On the right hand side is the microUSB port, on the left is the volume rocker and on the top of the Palm Pre 2 is the power button, a switch that puts the phone on vibrate and the 3.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom of the phone is the battery release, while on the back you'll find the loud-speaker, 5MP fixed focus camera and LED flash. Face the screen up and slide it vertically to reveal the 4 tiered QWERTY keyboard. The individual glossy keys are better separated and feel more independent than on the original Pre, however the keyboard still feels cramped. The keys also feel a bit mushy, without enough click-feedback and it isn't particularly comfortable to type on for extended periods, however, suffices for day to day short entry. This, however, is compensated for by the fantastic and very quick predictive text entry on the Palm Pre 2.
On the back is the 5MP camera with LED flash
The sides of the Palm Pre 2
The Palm Pre 2 is well weighted with predominantly plastic construction. It fits nicely in the hand, and sits comfortably when held to the ear when being used as a phone. In turn, while ney-sayers may complain that the phone is too aesthetically similar its predecessor, and we wouldn't necessarily disagree, it is still a well constructed, ergonomic portrait QWERTY device with a few incremental improvements, and in turn the design gets a general thumbs up from us.
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