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iPhone 3G S vs. Palm Pre

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Due to the hype surrounding the launch of Palm’s Pre Model over the weekend and then three days later the launch of Apple’s iPhone 3G S model TMV thought it apt to compare the specs of each phone. Unlike our Blackberry Story vs IPhone 3G) post, obviously TMV have not had the benefit of testing either phone. So, this post is more about the competitive features and business models behind each handset.

Palm Pre

At first glance purely based on specifications you could be forgiven for thinking this handset was the closest yet to present a viable and realistic use to the moniker ‘iPhone killer”. Most techies would agree that the Pre’s software make it the strongest competitor to the iPhone to enter the market yet.

Drilling down let’s see what goodies the Pre provides in terms of functionality. According to Gizmodo the Pre has “the best multi-touch screen [they’ve] seen yet”. Numerous reviews have stated that they view the touch screen as “more accurate, more responsive” than that of the iPhone.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that on top of the touch screen the Pre offers a slide out keyboard for those more used to a blackberry-esq like user experience. However initial reports have been rather negative in terms of the feel and responsiveness of the slide out keyboard. Perhaps, something for Palm to improve upon with its second-generation handset?

In terms of battery life initial reports seem to indicate the Pre being slightly more robust than the 2ndgeneration iPhone. We will have to wait and see how this compares with the 3rd generation iPhone for a week or two. Camera quality is average at best even with the 3-mexapixel camera. TMV really does not understand why the so-called smart phone leaders get the camera element so wrong?

Most smart phone users want a high-end camera. Why can brands like Samsung and LG get this right whilst getting the “user experience” so wrong? Is it just that Apple, Pre and Blackberry do not listen to user requests in terms of camera quality? Or is it just that they are too cheap? Or perhaps is is a compromise for other features? If Samsung can release a phone with a twelve mega pixel camera this just makes the iPhone, Palm and Blackberry handsets feel like they have been left in the stone age…,

According to most reviews the Pre’s multitasking ability is where the phone really shines and gives the iPhone 3G S a real run for its money. Albeit there are speed issues when numerous apps are open at once – pretty similar to normal computing in that sense. Operator wise the Pre is available exclusively on the Sprint network in the US. Many have also complained that as Sprint is the exclusive distributor and third largest tier one operator with lackluster 3G infrastructure. This may be a drawback in many users mind.

Verdict:  Sales-wise first weekend figures indicate around 100K sales were done; this only represents 10% of the 2nd generation 1st weekend sales. Perhaps this does indicate that Palm will experience serious problems in terms of market penetration. Hence will the Pre pull Palm out of the handheld doldrums it has experienced over the last few years? TMV certainly hope so, but do have our reservations.

iPhone 3G S

As usual there was an immense level of hype around the 3rd generation iPhone launch.  However, the jump in features and “user experience” from the second to third generation iPhone was not that much of a leap considering many of these issues should have been solved and sorted out for the second-generation handset.

Despite this there are some features that do make an upgrade worthwhile. Firstly, processor speed seems to be the key element here with Phil Schiller SVP of worldwide product marketing at Apple stating that speed “would be two times faster than previous iPhones”. Opening applications will also apparently be faster, a much-needed upgrade.

Apparently, battery life is improved on the new iPhone model. This can only be a good thing because the 2nd generation model it was lucky to last a full day of heavy use.  Offering 9hours of Wi-Fi usage up form 6 hours is a positive. The fact the 3G usage of 5 hours has not improved is quite a drawback in TMVs view. 10 hours of video playback and 30 for music are all very good in TMVs opinion. Obviously, we will have to check that these figures hold up when this model is retailed from 19th June.

Once again TMV were severely disappointed to learn that the camera is a measly 3 megapixels. This is the biggest letdown! Why do both Blackberry, Apple and Palm not understand that a decent camera in a mobile phone is a key essential? Are Apple going to persist in dumbing down handset cameras? On a positive at least the new model does have video recording, albeit a damn site behind what has been consider standard for at least two years in competitor phones.

New features of note include; Voice control – yes handy but a common feature of most handsets for years, granted the iPhone’s adaption is better with this feature including emails, music and app use. There have been lots of positive comments about the new “Compass” feature, yet whilst nice is not a “killer app”.

The fact MMS has only now been added in the 3rd incarnation says as a lot about Apple being a little slow in grasping consumer basics in terms of mobile handsets. At least we finally have it now. Many thanks Apple!

However, in the UK there have been many complaints that unlike with the upgrade from 1st to 2nd generation handsets, users will have now to buyout of their current contracts as well as pay extra to get the new handsets in upgrading from 2nd to 3rd generation models. Not a good customer relation exercise but pretty much standard across the mobile handset ecosystem. So, iPhone users welcome to the real world!

Verdict:  As I have come out of my T-Mobile contract, I will happily be switching to O2 in the UK so I can get my dirty hands an iPhone 3G S. I had always said to my friends with iPhones, I would not get one until apple got it right. It’s not so much that they did not in previous incarnations’ it’s just that they left out some core mobile handset basics. Now that battery power is supposed to be better and we have MSS it is almost there. The key drawback – lame camera. But as the G1, G2, Blackberry or Palm only offer the same TMV believe we have no option but to join the ranks of smart-phone manufacturers dumbing down camera parade.

Overall, it does seem as if the Palm Pre is the closest yet a competitor has come to building a real “iPhone Killer”. TMV do doubt whether it will develop as large a market share in the same time period that Apple has with its iPhone. However, if it develops a strategy targeting distribution in key emerging markets where volume is key over price point it may just stand a chance in the medium to long-term. Consumer and business usage of smart-phone handsets in these emerging markets way outstrips what are becoming stagnant markets in the West. In TMVs view this is the iPhone’s weakness as to date there has been a viable “emerging market” distribution strategy for Apple.

Author

  • Wayne Rosso

    Wayne Rosso has worked in music and technology for decades. He has worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Public Image LTD., Beach Boys, Phillip Glass, Fkeetwood Mac, Rick James, New Kids on the Block, Slash, Evanescence and scores of others.

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