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

By  |  Monday, June 8, 2009 at 11:11 pm

So much about Apple’s new iPhone was revealed through rumor ahead of time that I prepared a provisional grid comparing it to the Palm Pre a couple of weeks ago. Now that everything’s official, I dug out that grid for an updating and to make any necessary corrections–and found that about 98 percent of the specs I filled in for the iPhone to Be Named Later turned out to accurately describe the iPhone 3G S.

After the jump. lots and lots of specs for the summer’s two most notable smartphones. As usual, I’m not claiming that you can use this list to determine which phone is better (especially since the 3G S remains an unreleased product as I write this). But it’s still fun to see how they compare.

This T-Grid is a work in progress, subject to expansion and revision–and at some point, I’ll replace it with one that compares the Pre against the real next-gen iPhone:

The phones
Palm Pre
Palm Pre
Apple iPhone 3G S
Apple iPhone 3G S
Palm’s webOS
Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0
June 6th
June 19th
U.S. carrier
$299.99 with two-year contract; $199.99 after $100 rebate; 8GB only
$199 for 16GB model or $299 for 32GB model with two-year contract
Service (Unlimited voice minutes, data, and text messages)
$100 per month
$150 per month
Yup, to AT&T
Black and white
Size and weight
3.96” by 2.34” by 0.67”; 4.76 oz.
4.5″ by 2.4″by 0.48″; 4.8 oz.
Screen size, resolution, and technology
3.1″; 480 by 320; LCD
3.5″; 480 by 320; LCD
600-MHz TI OMAP3430 CPU
Apple isn’t saying, but it reportedly has a 600-MHz CPU
Apple isn’t saying, but 256MB is a good bet
Multi-touch touchscreen and slide-out physical keyboard
Multi-touch touchscreen with on-screen keyboard
Micro USB
iPod Dock Connector
Wi-Fi and GPS
Got ’em both
Got ’em both
Headphone jack
Standard 3.5mm
Standard 3.5mm
Voice dialing
Voice recording
Yes, but AT&T won’t support at launch
3 megapixels; LED flash; doesn’t do video
3 megapixels; no flash; no digital zoom; autofocus; does VGA video at 30fps
Quad-band GSM
Use as tethered modem?
Yes, although AT&T isn’t saying when
I’m not finding official Palm life claims, but Sprint says it offers up to 5 hours talk time; removable
Up to 5 hours talk time; 300 hours standby; 5 hours Internet use on 3G; 9 hours on Wi-Fi; 10 hours video playback; 30 hours audio playback; non-removable
Copy and paste?
Web browser
Webkit-based browser
WebKit-based Safari
Web searching
Yes, including Google and Wikipedia, at least
Yes, via Google or Yahoo
IMAP, POP, Gmail, others
MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL; other services supported through IMAP
Yes, with to-do list
Yes, but no to-do list that I know of
Microsoft Exchange support
Instant messaging
Yes–multiple networks supported
Yes, but through third-party apps
Office Apps
Microsoft Office-compatible viewers, but no editing; QuickOffice already available and Documents to Go in the works
Turn-by-turn navigation
iPhone 3.0 features will help third parties such as Tom Tom enable it
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, Audible formats
Video player; supports MPEG-4, H.263, and H.264 formats
iPod player, YouTube; movies through iTunes Store; supports H.264 and MPEG4 formats
Wireless syncing
Yes, including Gmail/Google Calendar and integration of Facebook friends; no direct syncing with OS X apps
Yes, through MobileMe
Desktop syncing
No, although you can use it as a USB drive
Yes, through iTunes
Application store
Yes; only a handful of apps so far
Yes, the iTunes App Store; tens of thousands of apps available
Any additions, corrections, speculation, rumors. or questions?

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32 Comments For This Post

  1. Morgan Wheeler Says:

    This was a fantastic analysis… BUT I still can’t choose!

  2. Bas Heetebrij Says:

    Could you add the Nokia N97 to the grid? Previously you did a comparison between the N97 and the iPhone 3g… would be mostly a copy and paste. 🙂

    In terms of hardware, the N97 is closer to the iPhone than the Pre… I think the top smartphones of the moment are those three: Pre, 3G S and N97.

  3. smithee Says:

    Accessories: Pre, unknown | iPhone, large ecosystem

  4. Mike Compeau Says:

    You need to make SOME mention of Classic for running many of the 50,000 apps available for the Palm OS that provide everything from astronomy apps, to customizable database solutions, etc.
    Their interface ‘look’ may be aged now with the slick webOS in vogue, but their utility and capabilities and long term usefulness can’t be underscored enough. Many of these old apps have loyal followings and are valuable in their own right. Having them available on the Pre is a benefit.

  5. dave Says:

    dont’ forget: missingsync is releasing an app for mac users that will allow for serious sync with mac apps – and also, you forgot to mention “sync with itunes” as an item for both (worth noting as a line item imho)

    also worth noting: pre has a HUGE mirror for preparing for portraits, iphone has NONE…

    some other random bits jump to mind, but those two seemed big and worth marking down 😉

  6. Kool Skatkat Says:

    How about device encrypted (or not) backup? Is that covered under synching?

  7. Ben Says:

    Wireless syncing is wrong for the iPhone. You don’t have to use mobile me. You can wireless sync with google contacts/calendar using their activesync connection:

  8. Sean Says:

    There really is no comparison. Until the Pre gets 50,000 apps it’s a no contest…iPhone wins.

  9. Sean Says:

    Dave, you can download several apps from iTunes that has a mirror. One is called “Mirror” and the other is called “Vanity Mirror”. If you can bring yourself to spend .99 cents that is.

  10. Mike Compeau Says:

    No contest without 50k apps? Then how on earth did the original iPhone ever get off the ground with zero apps. Obviously that’s only a part of the formula. Ding dong- roll out of bed.

  11. Alan Smith Says:

    Mike Campeau- But there are more than 50,000 apps for the iPhone now. The 1st gen iPhone got off the ground because of its groundbreaking interface. Now it has the speed, more cool apps that you can shake a finger at and games. It is said that the iPhone will put the Sony PSP out of business.

    The Pre will sell some (it had some positive numbers, but not great), but it will take away sales from the Blackberry.

    iPhone wins!

  12. Sean Says:

    Mike, the reason it got off the ground was due to the fact that nobody had ever seen such a device before and clamored to own one. Now 2 years later there are 50 thousand apps to go along with that exclusivity.

    Palm has 50 thousands reasons to be worried considering their SDK is far behind Apple’s.

  13. James Katt Says:

    It’s the apps.
    There are more than 50,000 Apps for the iPhone.
    The Pre will get only a few.
    Nothing compares to the iPhone

  14. Genovelle Says:

    The original Iphone did have apps at launch. Web apps actually. and at launch there were many available. The developer community wanted more access to the underlying system and Apple did so with 2.0 and the SDK. They only continue to increase this access. It seams that everyone is just so happy to shoot Apple down, when Palm is using the same tech for apps that Apple did but being applauded for it. The reason the only have 18 apps at launch is because the developers claim that palm shut them out. As far as the classic apps. I have owned three treos over the years and apps were neat but they clogged the OS and made it unstable. The last three phones I had before my Iphone were Treos. I still have them and they all died. My ex-wife had one that also just died. The life span was about 8 to 9 months. One was a replacement but that was before Palm seperated from Handspring. After that no luck on service. I bought the original Iphone just after the first price drop. The phone continues to gain new features. With out a GPS Chip I could find my way with the cell or WiFi location. App store. Ability to Download Music over the air, use it as a remote control for my mac or apple tv. Soon it will be able to download video over wifi, MMS, and numerous other features. I admit the Pre does look snazzy, but every review I have seen that shows the pre with multiple apps running, it is going slow. One reviewer, to show the speed of the Palm browser clear the cache, history, and memory on the Pre, then compared it to the Iphone. I know he didn’t do the same on the Iphone because previously visited sites came up as he typed.

    I for one am glad Apple didn’t choose to let just anything run in the background.
    I can talk on the phone and play music or search the web, I can check my calender, write and email all at the same time. Even take a picture. Many of the 3rd party apps can’t but the thing that matter do. I don’t want to have to police what is running in the background eating my battery alive. I don’t like carrying extra things I have to keep up with and keep charged. If I’m driving I listen to my Iphone through my car and it charges at the same time. I charge it over night and rarely run out during the day unless I watch a feature Movie. The fact that I can put 3.0 on a 2 year old phone and gain all of the non-hardware dependent feature is just awesome to me.

  15. Genovelle Says:

    Sorry, didn’t realize the post was that long.

  16. hoosierdaddie Says:

    Iphone smokes the Pre. Having a pullout keyboard was a bad bad idea. The interface sux. Not even slick looking. They left out so many features it isn’t funny. They set themselves to get 1up’ed every year by apple. Who cares about

  17. slappy Says:

    It’s not just the grid you need to look at. It’s the entire ecosystem. iTunes, Audio Podcast, Video Podcast, Music Videos, Music, Movies, Television, Audiobooks, 50K Apps to choose from, Graphic Intense 3D Games. There’s more. The DOCK connector SDK is going to open up a bunch of really new stuff we haven’t seen yet. It’s going to get really crazy this summer with these new API for developers to go nuts in.

  18. G Bananas Says:

    I hate everything apple, but the iPhone has all the phones beat. There really is no comparison.

  19. Franz Says:

    Nice list and pretty even handed. Several corrections though:
    1) The iPhone does multitask, just not with 3rd party apps yet. The Pre’s card view is a very elegant solution though.
    2) Turn by Turn GPS on Pre is with over the air maps and the TomTom on iPhone will be on device. Both have strengths and weakness, but an important distinction.
    3) The iPhone in 3.0 will have Task and Note syncing with Exchange according to the WWDC keynote.
    4) As Ben stated, the iPhone can sync with google, though this is an MS Exchange protocol.
    5) Service without everything included is a lot closer and fits the average consumer better for comparison. And the iPhone doesn’t require an everything plan so this is a complicated comparison. For instance 450 minutes, unlimited data, and unlimited text Sprint $69 AT&T $89, but if you don’t need unlimited text – say 200 messages Sprint still $69 and AT&T $74.
    6) The Pre can handle multiple exchange accounts and the iPhone only one.
    7) The iPhone supports POP of course.

    I’d love to see the N97 included too. All three look to be very strong phones.

  20. Franz Says:

    Couple more things:
    1) Adobe Flash – Pre not yet, iPhone not gonna happen
    2) OpenGL – Pre Nope, iPhone OpenGL 2.0
    3) Universal Search vs. Spotlight is also an interesting comparison

  21. Chris Burk Says:

    The Palm Pre does support desktop syncing as it is compatible with ITunes (or can be used in USB mode.)

  22. slappy Says:

    @Chris Burk

    Thats a “hack” not authorized by Apple. Expect this to be disabled soon.

  23. John Destacamento Says:

    Thanks for the great review. This is the most complete and possible the most accurate out of all the current reviews published today. (6-10-09) However, I still don’t know why a compass and Nike syncronization are listed as viable features. Who actually needs/uses a compass? GPS yes, but a compass?!

  24. slappy Says:

    @John Destacamento

    It’s a new additional function to Google Maps itself. Since that function is there, why not make it a standalone app for hikers, bikers, skiers, campers, fisherman… remove it from the Google map interface and create a cool looking compass for it.

  25. Raremoon Says:

    You forgot two essential things novelty in the iPhone : the new access for ppl with hearing and sight dissabilities and the opening of the dock to connect to any technology who wish to expand their base of consumers, iPhone becomes like a master key.

  26. Alex Says:

    Who needs a compass on a phone anyway? Classic enables thousands of apps as well as the iphone. My girlfriend has an iphone and she painfully regrets the fact that she bought it especially after switching from sprint and after seeing my pre. The iphone was a one hit KO in its time but they won’t have the spot light for long. Pre wins

  27. jessie Says:

    This t grid is nice, however, there are websites that already do this like

  28. M.J. Says:

    You guys need to wake up and stop living in fantasy Apple land. The Iphone when it first came out did’nt have that many apps and was very slow. This is only the beginning for the Palm Pre and it is keeping up with the Iphone really good. Remember folks this is a first generation phone that is almost comparable with the Iphone 3GS. I can’t wait until Palm will unleash over 100,000 apps for the Pre. People just need to except that the Pre is an awesome smartphone. There is going to be a lot of updates this end of the summer to bring this phone to its true potential.

  29. M.J. Says:

    I would like to also add that in some ways the Palm Pre is better than the Iphone 3GS. So people give it another 3-6 months more than the Palm Pre will be the champ over the Iphone 3GS. The Iphone 3GS is garbage.

  30. Art Says:

    I am a Palm Pre user. I spent a ton of time comparing both the iPhone and the Palm Pre before I bought it. Some distinctions I’ve found along the way are this, apps are user specific and shouldn’t be counted when rendering a viable comparison between two devices. An iPhone isn’t a Palm, and a Palm isn’t an iPhone. I realized quickly that people would make comparisons between the new 3G and the Pre but, the user is the main difference in any device. It all depends on what you want your phone to do. I’ve played with the iPhone many times over the past several years and one thing I’ve found is this: since I don’t own an apple computer, since I don’t own an ipod, and since I don’t operate anything Apple, I prefer a device that will work with what I already do have. I love the syncing capabilities with my MS Outlook and Google. I find that it operates just as well when trying to find my way no matter what app you are using for directions, and even though I take some photos with my phone, I still relay totally on my digital camera to take meaningful ones that I honestly wish to keep. I enjoy the smaller size because it fits into my work uniform arm pocket perfectly (to which the iPhone will never do). I’m not against he iPhone in anyway, it just isn’t a viable option for my lifestyle. Cheers to you iPhone users, I have enjoyed watching how far it has come so please, give the Palm a change to advance itself to. Technology is great no matter what form it takes…and believe me, I’m sure we will one day see another device blow both of these away.

  31. iphone fan Says:

    Just love the new 32gb iPhone. Ultimate gadget for me. Nice post.

  32. zack Says:

    Im an owner of a pre,its a good phone but the battery sucks! The app catalog is bad,every time i download an app the pre freezes for 15 sec or more. Muti-tasking is Good only sometime because other times it will say to many cards open even when there are only 2 cardS I own a jailbroken 2nd gen ipod touch and i download apps for it,the pres apps so far are not even close to apples. Sad to say the pre will never get apps like the iphone or touch. The apps look so unfinished on the pre. Know maybe in the future palm will release a new phone that will be able to support 3d games and much more. The only thing i own from apple is an ipod touch and thats buy choice not by cash,so im not a fanboy!

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