Palm Treo Pro Review

Introduction and Design
This is an unlocked GSM phone which can operate in
the US on AT&T and T-Mobile (without 3G).


As smartphones begin to penetrate the consumer market Palm, the manufacturer who brought them to the mainstream, has been fighting to stay relevant. Bigger names like RIM, HTC and more recently Apple have dominated the market. The tried and true Treo form factor that made Palm so successful also contributed to their downfall, with sleeker and better designs passing it over. About this time last year Palm made their first major design shift with the Centro, a move that netted them seven figure sales numbers and a reemergence on the scene. Now they’re at it again with the Treo Pro, and though it carries the Treo name it thankfully has little in common with Treos of yesterday. The notoriously portly line has been slimmed down and sleeked up to iPhone levels, and the results are great. Will the Pro bolster Palm’s return to prominence, or just let them hold onto a dying brand a little bit longer?

Included in the box you will find:
  • Li-Ion battery
  • AC Adapter
  • USB data cable
  • Stereo headset


The Treo Pro is a good looking phone, though it does little to hide its iPhone inspiration. The face is much sleeker than any Treo we’ve seen before, with curvy lines and flush buttons. The keys are the same as on the Centro, though with a little more spacing since the phone is wider.

You can compare the Palm Treo Pro with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The Treo Pro does not abandon its roots altogether though, and the overall design is the same as any other Treo out there: display on top, cluster of navigational and shortcut buttons in the middle and QWERTY keyboard below. We measured the 320x320 display at 2.5”, and as other Windows Mobile phones it supports 65k colors. It’s a good display, but not great. We had no problems reading it any lighting condition, but like we’ve seen on Motorola screens the colors seemed just a bit washed out and they aren’t as vibrant as panels we’ve seen from HTC and Samsung, even though rumors point to HTC manufacturing the Pro (and, as we’ll see later, they did.)

The cluster in the middle features the same buttons we’ve seen before, but its makeover is much needed and gives the Pro a much different look. There is the five-way directional pad in the middle, with two stacked shortcut keys to each side and send and end on the far edges. Thankfully Palm has ditched the needless mechanical softkeys we’ve seen in the past. The d-pad is a silver ring, and in the middle is a black bubble button with a silver Palm logo. It is easy to use and navigate with. The shortcut keys are pre-programmed to, moving clockwise from the top left, Start Menu, OK, Messaging and Calendar, but are customizable in the settings menu. They sit flush and are seamless with the glossy black housing, which is a large part of what gives the Pro its modern appearance. The send and end keys are simply small black circles, rounded and raised with an LED-lit green and red ring around them respectively. They are visually separated from the rest of the cluster by an hourglass-curved line. Again, small design touches that make a world of difference.

The keyboard is virtually the same as the Centro, though there are a few small differences. Since the Pro is wider, the far left and right column of keys are as big as the rest, not tapered like the Centro. There is also the slightest amount of extra spacing between the keys, making a fairly good keyboard better. It’s still no Blackberry, but the slight grippiness of the keys prevents your finger sliding off and pressing two at once. They feel much cushier than the hard plastic keypads of previous Treos, which we appreciate. The travel is good and there is no doubt that the key has been pressed.

The side buttons are sleek and well designed; there is no missing them but they blend into the body’s minimalist design well. The volume rocker sits on the top left, and below it is the camera key which has to be held to activate. The left side has a flush Wi-Fi on/off button towards the bottom, sitting above the IR port. The keys on the left side offer reassurance when pressed, but the Wi-Fi switch has no tactile feedback. When we pressed it worked, but we only knew so because of the onscreen confirmation.

The top of the phone has a power button to the left and sliding silence switch to the right. The power key is flush like the Wi-Fi switch, but easy to press like the left side buttons. The bottom houses the microUSB charging/data port and 3.5mm headphone jack.

The back of the Pro would probably fit perfectly on the iPhone 3G, assuming it had a removable door. The Pro shares the same fingerprint magnet glossy black finish and soft rounding at the corners and edges that make it comfortable to hold. Unfortunately it also shares the tendency to scratch when breathed on, and even the most anal user will notice light scratches after just a few minutes of use.

The 2-megapixel camera is situated in the middle near the top, and directly to the left is a vertical speaker on the edge. The stylus is tucked away tightly into the bottom left corner. Thankfully Palm has moved back to metal after using a cheap plastic one on the 800w.

The Treo Pro feels fantastic in the hand, and very similar to the iPhone. It’s slightly narrower, which we always prefer, but overall the dimensions are very similar and the rounded backing makes the depth deceptive. The weighting is good; the Pro is solid without being heavy. Where the Centro was an evolutionary departure from the norm, the Pro is a gigantic leap forward in the design of Palm devices. We hope Palm doesn’t sit on this leap but instead continues to push the design envelope on future units.

Palm Treo Pro Video Review:

Palm Treo Pro 360 Degrees View:


Running Windows Mobile 6.1, there isn’t a lot new with the interface. The Pro does not have a customized homescreen like devices such as the HTC Touch Diamond and Sony Ericsson Xperia X1.  This, of course, can be customized entirely by the user with different plugins and even new interface overlays. The homescreen soft keys are Contacts on the left and Internet on the right, which launches Internet Explorer.  The HTC Task Manager’s quick menu sits at the top right of the screen, allowing users to quickly close running programs and see real time memory usage.

Phonebook and Organizer:

As a WM Professional device the Pro is as full-featured as it gets. It of course syncs with Outlook, so managing contacts and calendar is simple.  Being a GSM phone, when a new contact is added the user is given the option to add it as a SIM or Outlook contact.  Only the latter will sync with Outlook when the phone is paired with a computer.  There is nothing new with the Pro; it runs the standard Windows Mobile Calendar and Contacts application. Other PIM applications are also exactly the same as before, such as Notes, Tasks, Calculator and Clock.

The dialpad and phone interface has been redone yet again, and HTC’s fingerprints are evident.  A press of the send key brings up recent calls and contacts, but annoyingly not the onscreen dialpad.  That is accessed via the left softkey, and unlike the 800w there is noticeable lag between button presses.  The pad itself is large and easy to use, and even though the onscreen version must be accessed by softkey the user can dial with the physical keyboard at any time.  Not only can you dial by number, but if you start typing in letters it will match your contacts.

Like the HTC Touch and older HTC devices, the in-call screen features six onscreen buttons in two rows.  For the Pro they are Speaker, Mute, Hold, Note, Contacts and Unlock/Lock.  The screen is locked by default when on the call, and the user has to use the d-pad to access the Unlock button which is a minor annoyance.  It’s a good idea in theory, but doesn’t translate in practice.  Again, the caller ID picture is still miniscule.



One of the most useful upgrades in Windows Mobile 6.1 is the threaded text messaging, but Palm has been doing this for years.  On the 800w Palm stuck with their application; it is unfortunately absent on the Pro.  It’s a minor gripe, as the functionally is basically the same, but we appreciated the little touches like smiley shortcuts and felt the look was better overall.  We’re sure there is a .cab for it out there somewhere though.  Windows Messenger is bundled with the device.  We’ve been impressed by AOL’s beta version of AIM, but it is not preloaded.

The Pro does email as well. It supports most common formats, such as POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Lotus Domino as well as Microsoft Direct Push. When connected with an Exchange account the user gets real time emails, otherwise accounts can be set to check at intervals ranging from every five minutes to once a day. The user can view and send most attachments, such as Office documents and PDF files.

Connectivity and Data:

The Pro is a quad-band GSM device, with 3G bands available for all markets via variants of the phone.  It features HSDPA 3.6MBit/s and Wi-Fi b/g.  For short range communication the Pro offers both Infrared and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, which supports the following profiles: HSP, HFP 1.5, OPP, SAP, PBA, A2DP, AVRC, HID, PAN.

Wi-Fi on the Pro is a great feature, but Palm’s implementation here sucks.  The connection is dropped once the device goes to sleep by default, meaning that the user has to reinitiate the connection with the Wi-Fi switch.  In the preferences this can be changed to automatically connect on wakeup.  We understand that disabling it during sleep saves battery, but at the same time it means that if Wi-Fi is the only data connection the user will not get email notifications, etc, when the device is sleeping.

ActiveSync handles all the data transfer between your phone and PC. It interfaces with Outlook, allowing the user to both back up their data and stay connected on the go.

HTC has been including Opera Mobile in many of their ROMs, but unfortunately the Pro ships only with Internet Explorer. There is a new zoom feature in WM 6.1, but it’s unremarkable at best.  We’d recommend an immediate download of Opera Mobile 9.5 or Skyfire to beef up your browsing experience.


The camera took decent pictures, better than the 800w. Colors were a bit washed out, but lines were generally crisp and clear. It had trouble with low light conditions though, and even in medium light pictures appeared much, much darker than they should have. The interface lays to rest any lingering doubts that this device was manufactured by HTC; it is nearly identical to devices like the Touch and Touch Diamond. It has been slightly reworked, but the icons and layout are unmistakable. This means there are many more options than we saw on the 800w, and overall the results were better.

As with HTC devices we’ve seen, the Pro can record videos at small, medium, large and CIF resolutions and in both MPEG4 and H.263 formats. Again, options are more generous than what we saw on the 800w and fall more in line with what we saw from the Diamond. Videos are of YouTube quality, there is not much else to say about them.


Windows Media Player 10 handles audio and video playback, nothing new here. It is a capable player and we like many things about it, but there is always room for improvement. See our review on third party offerings for a more in-depth look at what is available.

The HTC Streaming Media player comes preloaded and allows the user to watch videos from the likes of You Tube. It is a fairly rudimentary player with a bland and unintuitive interface. We’d have much preferred to see the YouTube client found on the Diamond, but we’re sure HTC doesn’t want their OEM devices to compete with their branded offerings too much.


The Pro runs on a Qualcomm MSM7201 400Mhz processor and has 128MB RAM and 256MB ROM. For a Windows Mobile device it ran fairly smoothly and we only experienced occasional menu lag. It supports microSDHC expansion, but does not come bundled with any card.

It is preloaded with standards such as Office Mobile and Windows Live, but there are also some useful programs that ship with the device, most notably Sprite Backup, Google Maps, TeleNav. The latter two can take advantage of the built-in GPS and TeleNav is great as always. HTC’s QuickGPS program is also on board, allowing the user to download satellite information for quicker fixes. Picsel PDF Viewer has thankfully been ditched in favor of Adobe Reader LE. Last but certainly not least is Remote Desktop Mobile, which does exactly as the name implies.

Of course there are countless third party programs the user can install to customize their device and make it more useful. Despite its problems, Windows Mobile is a powerful OS, and while not quite open-source the development community really comes through in overcoming Microsoft's shortcomings.


Call quality on the Pro was poor. Callers said we sounded just ok, rating us a 6/10. On our end it was very tinny and almost sounded like there was a metallic pinging, especially at the end of sentences. We’ve definitely seen better performances out of both Treos and HTC devices. Talk time is rated at 5 hours and standby at 250, both of which are plenty. As we always warn, standby time with smartphones can vary wildly based on how you are using the phone and if you have programs running in the background, such as email clients.

We compared our SPB Benchmark results with the ones of the HTC Touch Diamond and Palm Treo 800w.


For the most part we like what we see in the Treo Pro. Palm has always been good at making functional business devices, but they’ve lacked in the innovation department for a long time now. The Pro brings a complete makeover to the Treo line that is years overdue, but great nonetheless. Functionality remains par for the course, though we would have liked to see a prettier interface. HTC and SE have set a new bar for redesigning Windows Mobile, and while Palm has caught up in the hardware department they risk being left behind if their software efforts can’t keep up. They’ve made such strides, we’d hate to see them fall by the wayside once and for all. The Pro really is a good looking device, and hopefully marks an important step on Palm’s return to relevance.


  • Sleek, modern design without losing functionality
  • All the productivity that comes with Windows Mobile 6.1
  • Lots of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and 3G


  • Call quality is subpar
  • Hardware is beautiful, but the software needs some sprucing up
  • Keyboard is good, but large fingers still may have problems

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

3 Reviews

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