Palm Pre review: A pebble in your hand

GSMArena team, 19 December 2009.
Pages: 12345678

Tags: Palm, Touch UI, WebOS

Image gallery with multi-touch

Palm Pre sports a very nice, thumbable gallery. You can browse the images taken with the inbuilt camera or the ones stored in the phone's memory. Images are displayed as 4 x 3 thumb grids.

Palm Pre Palm Pre
Browsing the image gallery

While viewing a single picture you can zoom in or out by the pinch gesture (the volume rocker doesn't work here). And if you tap twice on the screen image is resized from fit-to-screen size to 100%.

Panning is fine and the same goes for the accelerometer - changing the phone's orientation rotates the images instantaneously.

Palm Pre Palm Pre Palm Pre Palm Pre
Opening an image

Equalizer-less music player

The Palm Pre features a standard for the class music player which sorts tracks by artist, album, and genre. You can also create playlists and album art is supported.

What you don't get is equalizer support. And we don't mean that there aren't any user customizable equalizers. There aren't any equalizers whatsoever.

The music player interface is quite attractive and easy to navigate. Strangely, the player works in portrait mode only.

Palm Pre Palm Pre Palm Pre Palm Pre
The music player lacks an equalizer the eye-catching player interface

You can minimize the player and let it play in the background. The controls are hidden so to get to them just tap the icon in the lower right corner on the screen. And to get back to the player, use the card on the homescreen.

Palm Pre
The music player can be minimized

Great audio quality, but for the stereo crosstalk

Competing head-to-head with some of the best sounding devices in business, the Palm Pre is allowed no slip-ups here. It is the first Palm we ever get to test for audio quality so it's quite interesting to see how the guys over at Sunnyvale did.

The Pre didn't manage to top any charts for audio output but its performance was very good nonetheless. Noise levels and dynamic range are particularly impressive, probably the best we've seen on a mobile phone. Not that the subtle differences here will make any difference to a regular user but they are still an impressive achievement.

The frequency response is great with minimal-to-none deviations across the range. That little bend that you see in the graph is actually outside the audible range so it hardly makes any difference.

The distortion levels are also great. Even though they are a bit higher than the best we have seen it's unlikely to make a tangible difference to anyone but our testing gear.

The stereo crosstalk is the only aspect of the Palm Pre audio that we're not impressed with. At -53.9 dB it's among the worst we have seen on a mobile phone and mixing the two stereo channels will quite likely be audible at times.

And here go the actual results so you check them out.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Palm Pre+0.06, -0.42-95.795.70.0610.074 -53.9
Apple iPhone 3GS+0.01, -0.05-92.192.10.00350.011 -95.0
Nokia N900+0.10, -0.53-93.794.80.368 0.734-86.9
Nokia N97 mini+0.05, -0.32-90.590.40.0049 0.487-91.0
Apple iPhone 3G+0.52, -1.05-89.990.10.0033 0.016-93.1
HTC Hero+1.04 -2.13-91.392.30.458 0.902-95.8
HTC Magic+0.21 -2.20-85.688.80.025 0.220-86.0
T-Mobile G1+0.22, -2.52-87.289.20.0170.289 -86.1
HTC HD2+0.39, -2.99-89.089.10.0570.960-87.5

Palm Pre
Palm Pre vs Apple iPhone 3GS frequency response

You can find more information about our audio quality test here.

Video player

Just like everything else on the Pre, its video player has a simple interface. Videos are loaded in landscape mode and you can't change the screen orientation. You can only toggle ful-screen and original size view.

If you want to skip forward 30 sec you just need to sweep from left to across the screen. A swipe in the opposite direction will let you jump 10 sec back.

Palm Pre Palm Pre Palm Pre
Playing video on the Pre

There is no DivX/XviD video support so you'll either have to look for compatible videos only or you'd better get your PC a good video converter.

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