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The Palm Pre 2 was released earlier this year and has proven a popular phone among business users with the unusual feature of using Palm’s WebOS rather than one of the major mobile operating systems. The HP Pre 3 is due for release in the next month or so and offers a number of improvements over the Pre 2.
Palm was purchased by HP late last year in part to acquire the WebOS to give HP a platform of their own to compete with Android, Windows 7 Phone and iOS. It is a well designed, light weight system design for mobile phones and netbooks and offers a unique selling point for the Pre line.
Comparing the HP Pre 3 to the Pre 2 the two devices are physically similar, both are sliding phones with a touchscreen that also have portrait orientation physical keyboards making them appealing for business users who need to write a lot on the go. The HP Pre 3 is a little larger than its predecessor at 64mm x 111mm x 16 mm compared to 59.6mm x 100.7mm x 16.9mm. It is also quite thick set for a modern phone due to the sliding keyboard at nearly double the width of a Galaxy S II. The processor has received a solid upgrade from 1 GHz to a snappy 1.4 GHz, a top of the line processor by clockspeed but let down by still being single core while other top line phones are moving on to dual core designs that offer better multi-tasking and lower power consumption. Browsing and all but the Tegra 2-optimised apps that require a dual core processor should run extremely responsively. RAM has not changed between the second and third versions of the Pre with both offering a standard but unexceptional 512 MB.
The display has been upgraded significantly from the 3.1 inch, 480 by 320 of the Pre 2 to a far more impressive 3.58 inch 800 by 480 display in the Pre 3. Although this is not one of the biggest screens on the market it is a good pocket size and the high resolution will make browsing the internet and watching films clear and enjoyable. It is also a significant benefit for reading and writing emails and messages as text is much clearer or more can be viewed at any one time.
Storage has strangely either fallen or remained on the same level as the very useful 16 GB of the Pre 2 becomes options offering 8 and 16 GB in the Pre 3. For business users who may need to store significant quantities of data on their phone, or at least have this option available to them, the storage is an important asset and compares favourably with other smart phones on the market. Both models also have microSD slots allowing the storage to be further upgraded to 32 GB.
Both models offer Bluetooth and wireless connectivity though the Pre 2 lacks wireless N while Pre 3 has this longer-ranged, dual band version of the wireless protocol. The battery also receives a small upgrade from 1,150 mAh to 1,230 mAh in the Pre 3. Both are rather limited batteries for modern smart phones, especially given the size and depth of the handsets, business users will often want a longer battery life than this will offer requiring users to carry a charger around with them. The physical keyboard is well designed with typing being comfortable on the rubberised keys even for users with larger hands.
WebOS 2.0 has gained an attractive graphical make over and now has over 8,000 apps available in its market place. This still compares very poorly with Android and Apple’s iOS, both of which offer hundreds of thousands of apps. The layout of WebOS is neat and intuitive and paired with the 1.4 GHz processor is responsive in use. The Pre 3 is likely to reach the UK in early Autumn 2011.