The T-Grid: Palm Pre vs. Apple iPhone 3G

By  |  Friday, January 9, 2009 at 2:17 am

Yesterday night, we didn’t know much of anything about Palm’s new phone based on its next-generation platform for sure. And then Palm unveiled it today at CES–and while there are stray bits and pieces of information that may still be missing–including the price–we now know an awful lot about the phone, even though it’s still months from release. Ultimately, I think this phone is going to be judged primarily on its user interface, which looked damn impressive in today’s demo. But it’s worth recording the specs, facts, and figures we know so far, and comparing them to Apple’s iPhone 3G is irresistible.

Quick summary: The Pre has tons of features in common with the iPhone, but it also has a formidable list of items the iPhone lacks, including a real keyboard, copy and paste, tethering, and a camera with 50% more megapixels. After the jump, a T-Grid comparison.

This T-Grid is a work in progress, subject to expansion and revision:

The phones
Palm Pre
Palm Pre
Apple iPhone 3G
Platform
Palm’s webOS
Apple’s iPhone OS
Availability
“First half of 2009″
Now
U.S. carrier
Sprint
AT&T
Price
TBD; 8GB model only
$199 for 8GB model or $299 for 16GB model with two-year contract
Data plan
TBD, but it’ll qualify for Sprint’s $99.99 “Simply Everything” plan
$30 a month for unlimited data; $5 a month extra for 200 text messages
Locked?
It’ll be Sprint-only
Yup, to AT&T
Colors
Black
Black (8GB and 16GB); white (16GB only)
Size and weight
3.96” by 2.34” by 0.67”; 4.76 oz.
4.5″ by 2.4″by 0.48″; 4.7 oz.
Screen size and resolution
3.1″; 480 by 320
3.5″; 480 by 320
Input
Multi-touch touchscreen and slide-out physical keyboard
Multi-touch touchscreen with on-screen keyboard
Connector
Micro USB
iPod Dock Connector
Accelerometer
Yes
Yes
Headphone jack
Standard 3.5mm
Standard 3.5mm
Bluetooth
Stereo
Monaural
Voice dialing
Not sure No
Third-party apps
Voice recording
Not sure No
Third-party apps
MMS
Yes
No
Camera
3 megapixels; LED flash; not sure if it does video
2 megapixels; no flash; no digital zoom; no video
Voice
CDMA
Quad-band GSM
Data
EVDO Rev. A
HSDPA
Use as tethered modem?
Yes! Via Bluetooth.
AT&T says it’s coming soon
Wi-Fi and GPS
Got ‘em both
Got ‘em both
Battery
I haven’t seen any claims about battery life yet; removable
5 hours talk time; 300 hours standby; not removable
Copy and paste?
Absolutely
Tragically, no
Web browser
Webkit-based browser
WebKit-based Safari
Web searching
Yes, including Google and Wikipedia, at least
Yes, via Google or Yahoo
E-Mail
IMAP, POP
MobileMe, GMail, Yahoo Mail, AOL; other services supported through IMAP
Calendar
Yes, hopefully with to-do list
Yes, but no to-do list
Microsoft Exchange support
Yes
Yes
Instant messaging
Yes–multiple networks supported
Only through third-party apps
Office Apps
Not sure on details, but it looks like DataViz may be providing Documents to Go for it
Microsoft Office-compatible viewers, but no editing
Maps
Yes
Yes
Turn-by-turn navigation
Not sure but I’d guess not, at least as a standard feature
No, but may be coming from third party developer(s)
Music
Music player and Amazon music downloads; supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR, QCELP, WAV
iPod player and iTunes Store; supports MP3, AAC (with or without Fairplay), WAV, Apple Lossless, AIFF, VBR formats
Video
Video player; supports MPEG-4, H.263, and H.264 formats
iPod player, YouTube; movies through iTunes Store; supports H.264 and MPEG4 formats
Photos
Yes
Yes
Wireless synching
Not sure on all the details, but it features ambitious integration, such as putting Facebook portrait photos into your contact list
Yes, through MobileMe
Desktop synching
Not sure on details
Yes, through iTunes
Application store
Palm says there will be one
Yes, the iTunes App Store
Any additions, corrections, or questions?
 
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47 Comments For This Post

  1. Paul Says:

    You write “Only through third-party apps” for IM, but have left a number of others as “no”, which are available in third party apps: Voive dialing, voice recording, MMS, to-do list. Video has also been done, but only through a jailbroken app AFAIK, so it’s probably not applicable.

    The Pre looks like like the first decent competitor for the iPhone, whichhas gone beyond just copying. Who would have guess Palm had it in them?

  2. Jeff Says:

    Too bad it’s only available for Sprint customers. After that company shafted me, there’s no way I’d go back.

  3. Sharon Says:

    Lack of a real keyboard was a deal-breaker for me for the iPhone. I’ve got a Palm Centro now (for what was then 1/4 the price of the iPhone and a less expensive monthly plan) and am happy with it. When my contract’s up this year, I’m very likely to take a look at the Pre.

  4. dave ingram Says:

    Only CDMA? Locked to Sprint? Jeez, thats the worst thing. What about all those Palm customers in teh rest of the world (esp. Europe) who dont use CDMA and who want it on their choice of network. Damned shame. Cant beleive it. Hurry up and get that UNLOCKED SIM version out. PLEASE PALM.

  5. Peter Says:

    The Palm also has a micro-sd slot.

    Have you confirmed Palm only supports those /TWO/ email standards?

  6. Peter Says:

    Also, there is a GSM version of the palm

  7. shaded Says:

    I love this new os. Was wondering why they did not adopt android, but now i know they must have looked and android and laughed while they were working on this.

    I too loathe sprint but I believe this is a good move for palm. With sprint they wont have to compete with the storm, G1 or iPhone. And sprint is gonna market the hell outa this thing! They’re good at that.

    Hopefully once it properly marketed and there are enough user reviews and comments, palm will release a new device for gsm, with an updated version of the os, and maybe even more features.

  8. Jan Sandred Says:

    Only CDMA? A cost decision, most likely. But that rules out all of the world, except the US.

  9. AdamC Says:

    Goodluck Palm, the only way it can win in this difficult market is to be heavily subsidized by Sprint to the tune of being free.

  10. Jack Says:

    The style points still go to the iPhone. The physical keyboard looks like it will be hard to use, with flush to the surface keys rather than bumped up keys like the old Treo. Also, does anyone notice that they officially killing the Treo line with this phone? I guess its a good thing, since that thing is so long in the tooth, the tooth probably fell out.

    The wireless syncing is a big issue for me now. I’m sick and tired of having to sync my phone. I need my contact list available to me anywhere, not just on one computer.

    But right now, all this really does is make me wait for the next gen iPhone. If they upgrade the camera (at least 4 MP), add video to it, add cut and paste, then the iPhone is unbeatable. The Google Phone still needs a lot of work, from the way things sound. But the next gen is also around the corner (especially the one from Samsung for Sprint).

  11. mark Says:

    Thanks for the comparison; definitely still a lot of unknowns about the Pre, though it’s clearly a competitor.

    But really only three things, hardware-wise, that it has “over” the iPhone 3G – better camera, physical keyboard, removable battery. The price paid for those features is a form factor that’s over twice as thick and weighs almost 20% more. The other features can be provided by software, and it’s quite likely another iPhone software rev will be out by the time the Pre actually ships. And if Palm doesn’t ship until late June, it’s possible that another iPhone hardware model will have been announced (though one can be sure the next iPhone still won’t have a physical keyboard or removable battery!)

  12. brian Says:

    Nice list of features, which shows the Pre might compare favorably with the iPhone. But long lists of feature comparisons are sort of useless. Much better to wait and see how the Pre and iPhone compare from the user experience standpoint.

  13. Bignumone Says:

    I find it truly exciting when other vendors make a product that competes well with Apple’s products. That FORCES Apple to do better!

    Isn’t America GREAT?!?

  14. Harry McCracken Says:

    Thanks for all the info and thoughts, everyone!

    –Harry

  15. Matt Sharpe Says:

    The amusing thing about this list is that if you scroll down and answer the questions for a modern Windows Mobile device like the HTC Touch Pro, the specs out-do even the iPhone :-)

  16. Jim Goodlett Says:

    This article is missing quite a bit o info that shows other deltas between the two devices – ie., native Exchange EAS, easier dev enviro, info/data mashup, etc…that said, think the PALM PRE’s competitor is more the HTC TOUCHpro device than the iPhone, as the HTC is built for biz focus and stupid easy to use interface.

    check the following from my twitter.com/goodlett feed for more info on PALM PRE: http://twurl.nl/t3d5h4

    Lastly, though this looks to be quite the roboust device and smartly built info/data mashup oriented OS, to see greater success, it’ll need a virtual keyboard in landscape mode, fast accessibility to the settings functions, and a deep well of developers making both hearty biz apps and cool buzz.

  17. James Katt Says:

    The Palm Pre is still NOT an iPhone.

    It doesn’t have the iTunes music store nor App store.

    It claims to have multitouch such as the pinching movement to zoom. But Apple Legal would sure like to hear about it.

    CDMA severely limits it to U.S. use – and it is limited to Sprint also. And a few complain about the iPhone being limited to AT&T in the U.S.

    You can’t please everyone.

  18. David McElroy Says:

    You’re showing a bias when you say that the Pre has a “real keyboard.” The iPhone has a REAL keyboard. Otherwise, the typing I do on mine would be imaginary. It’s just not a PHYSICAL keyboard. I don’t have any idea whether that physical keyboard is better than the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, but they’re equally “real.” (At least you didn’t use the phrase “QWERTY keyboard” as the point of differentiation. So many writers don’t seem to understand that QWERTY refers to the keyboard layout rather than whether the keys are physical or virtual.)

  19. Trevor Says:

    The comparison list seems to imply that the iPhone does not support POP3 mail, which is incorrect. Both POP and IMAP mail are fully supported on the iPhone.

    Trevor

  20. lrd Says:

    For the whom bells toll? For Palm.
    Comparing a product that has sold over 13 million units with one that
    has sold zero. Where’s the logic?

  21. Viviana Wong Says:

    You put down physical keyboard as an advantage and I tend to think of it as being so much less revolutionary than the iPhone virtual keyboard that is very flexible and even has Chinese characters recognition input capability which works very well. Both traditional and simplified Chinese is supported. In addition all the special characters found in the European alphabet are easily available at the finger tip. The iPhone virtual keyboard in this sense trumps any physical keyboard. Apple can continue to introduce refinement and addition to this keyboard with just a software update. No such advantage is available to the physical keyboard, worst the possibility of loosing keys and mechanical failure is inherent in such a model.

  22. jbelkin Says:

    This is actually perfect for Apple – a worthy competitor that messes ONLY with its competitors. Like ipod or itunes competition, let 5 companies fight out of the remaining 20-30% of the market while Apple takes the bulk share (in the case, the high margin smartphone market) … bottom line, to consumers (only realgrowth market) the iphone already holds the title of “best smartphone.” It was first to market with a WORKING touchscreen & web browser … along with some other geewhiz technology like pinch zoom, etc, etc … so anyone else who comes along is a second hand copy … unless it’s 10 times better than an iphone – it’s second rate and while there will be fans (and haters of Apple) who will buy it – and unlike other markets, the cell phone market has a potential selling audience of 2 billion so you can have 6% of the smartphone market and still make money … RIMm will continue to fade to be merely a player in the consumer smartphone market … Apple probabably on’t attain 70% of the share but 55% is reasonable with RIM, Palm, Nokia, Moto, Google, etc … each taking between 7-15% share … JUST like with the ipod or itunes market.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Its debuting on Sprint it will not be locked in indefinitely. Ed hinted many times during keynote & in interviews that it will start on Sprint.
    A little birdy told me there are other carriers already lined up.

  24. Realitista Says:

    I believe they said in the CES presentation that the pre would include turn by turn navigation as standard.

  25. tamira Says:

    will palm pre have visual voice mail iphone does i love it

  26. Pj221 Says:

    It seems a little early to be comparing since it seems like there is not as much info bout the palm

  27. Satya Says:

    According to Apple’s site, the iPhone 3G weighs 4.7 oz (133 grams).

    The Pre will support turn-by-turn GPS navigation, provided through TeleNav.

  28. CampusGuruz Says:

    Looks awesome…

  29. Ferengi55 Says:

    The weight information for the iPhone is wrong. It should be 4.7 ounces.

  30. Faehan Says:

    I’ve done a comparison on how Palm Pre Stands to Nokia N97 at
    http://senseapplied.com/index.php/palm-pre-vs-nokia-n97/

  31. dindin Says:

    you forgot gesture bar at input;
    telenav is coming;
    multitasking;
    no obstrusive notifications and dashboard;

  32. Matt Says:

    After checkin out the ces video, I have to say, the pre’s interface (synergy, card like switching) blows away the iphone’s UI. Having said that, Apple would have reshape their os navigation UI while the pre is yet to be released. As seen in the past, palm would eventually release a gsm version as well as a legally unlocked version which could be purchased online enabling worldwide exposure without the hassle of online activation etc. Oh and the best part is even I could develop pre apps using just photoshop and dreamweaver. Only time will tell but for now, I shall faithfuly stick to my virtual keyboard powered visual delight.

  33. Bob Says:

    Those who are comparing only hardware specs, and basic software features are completely missing the point. The software of the Pre blows the iPhone away. The level of integration of apps, integration of the phone with the cloud, and it’s multi-tasking (Only apple could take a multitasking Unix based OS and turn it into a single tasking OS and get away with it) make the iPhone seem so last generation. Apple has so much buzz and market share that I wouldn’t even dream of saying this phone will overtake the iPhone, but it’s capabilities are at least a generation beyond what Apple has done.

    And while it doesn’t have the iTunes store, it does have the Amazon music store, which has no DRM and (at least for now) doesn’t charge a premium for the music you really want to buy. (Yes, I know Apple is going to remove DRM from much of its product, but Amazon did that a long time ago.)

  34. Harry McCracken Says:

    Bob: Agree totally that the Pre is about software, not hardware. Actually, almost every interesting phone is interesting because of software and services.

    That said, I did put together the specs comparison of the two platforms because…well, people will always be curious about specs. But there’s no question that getting to play with a Pre will be a thousand times more interesting than listing its speeds and feeds.

    –Harry

  35. Al Says:

    Multi-tasking is an enormous battery drainer and the source of most of the reboots needed in multi-tasking smart phones.

    Apple traded multi-tasking for battery life and stability.

    A good trade, I think.

    Longer battery life and stability is revolutionary when it comes to smart phones.

  36. ipodforumcom Says:

    The Pre’s Web OS UI and and UX really looks great. After watching (and using) for 20 minutes, It rarely looked (or felt) unresponsive, choppy, or laggy and it’s clear a lot of thought was put into the design, especially with regard to how the phone would be used with fingers, as opposed to a stylus or d-pad
    Discuss a little more at http://www.PalmPreForum.org

  37. anonymous23452 Says:

    Does the pre support a micro-SD card for external storage? Does it support Microsoft Office suite of word, excel, and powerpoint? Does it record video? Those are some big questions I have. If the answer is yes, then I don’t see why it won’t be the next great smartphone. Everything else that I’ve seen and read about it look great!

  38. J Says:

    Here’s the big question, will it only come under the “Everything” plan? Any inside info? My whole family wants this phone but we have a family plan and will never change it over simply to get a phone…

  39. Angel Peguero Says:

    I will wait for the next iPhone in June so the palm it’s going to shine for two month wow and then apple will come back with it’s 3rd iPhone so this one would be the pro iPhone 1. AT&T better than sprint 2.AT&T 3g the fastest 3itunes most use 4 bigger screen 5 design best design 6 apple brand 7 apps store has milliones of those jaja 8 jailbreak so this will kill the pre I will have the pre in my iPhone 9 suit palm apple would do it 10 sells over milliones of iPhones sold what can palm say sorry don’t abuse I just was trying to be cool and don’t forget I copy u jaja so iPhone is no copy maybe yes but it would be hard to beat it trust me iam not a apple fan but numbers talk and carriers so it’s not only the phone remember that

  40. Palm Pre Phone Fan Says:

    I sure hope that they allow all of the old Palm OS apps to work in the new OS. It would really help them catch up to the iPod. That is the only drawback that I can see so far with the Pre, it just does not yet have the cool software for it via 3rd party apps. I imagine that they will quickly have many apps as they have a decent developer base.

  41. Juan Says:

    If it could only be bought and used in different networks or make it work under different carrier … any hack? Anyone?

  42. Michael Says:

    Will it have a file browser that will allow real saving and sending of attachments? I first loved my iPhone but soon became frustrated by Apples control freak mentality so now I just like it and can guarantee I will be rid of it within months. The pre looks like it will be my next phone.

  43. Chris Says:

    After AT&T shafted me I’ll never go to them no matter how good the phone is. It looks like the Pre is as good, or better, than the iPhone anyway. I’m staying with Sprint (over 5 years now)!

  44. Wasim Says:

    This needs to be updated. The iphone will have cut copy and paste,
    Iphone is the best, it will never be killed, The only phone that could beat it is a newer iphone

  45. Chase Adams Says:

    The tables have officially turned. WWCD has just proved that the iPhone didn’t have to have a lot of upgrades to still be king of the pre.

  46. Master Splinter Says:

    the palm pre will be available for any of sprint’s plans. Your phone capabilities may be inhibited by some of the lower price plans though.

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