First, we’re bumping up our timing of the award this year to be in-line with CTIA Wireless expo. Why? A couple of months ago, we started contacting every phone manufacturer with a simple offering; show us what you’ve got, and we’ll see what’s best. By announcing the award now, you’ll know you’re getting a phone that will last you for the full year at the top of the heap. It also gives us the latitude to pick a old phone, a current phone, or even one that isn’t shipping yet.
Why’d we chose the Palm Pre Plus? Read more to find out.
Times haven’t been very fair to Palm, but this award was not given based on sympathy. The Palm Pre Plus simply has more built-in functionality than any other phone we’ve seen. In addition to answering the featuresets of iPhone and Android, there isn’t any major features that even Windows Phone 7 Series can claim as beating Palm’s webOS. From an always updating push notification service, to comprehensive (and free) sync services, webOS is on top.
That wasn’t true almost a year ago, when webOS first shipped. Without Palm’s PDK, the webOS platform was really in a similar position to the original iPhone’s standing. Users were asking why there wasn’t any native code on the platform, and getting a lot of non-answers in response (Palm, like Apple, was pointing to how the web browser is the end-all-be-all of everything, which nobody really buys).
With that taken into account, the Palm Pre Plus builds on the original Pre in key areas, though the Pre benefits from most of the benefits via updating. From Unreal 3 gaming, to improved charging port compatibility. Big or small, the Palm Pre Plus defines what you should have in a modern smartphone. In addition, Mobile Hotspot service is simply unparalleled.
Yes, we have stated time and time again that tethering is legal, and no, you don’t need a new plan. But for Palm to embrace both tinkering and mainstream users is key. For a mainstream user to have the convenience of paying an extra $1 per day, and being able to turn their phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot (supported by the carrier, no less), is unprecedented in America. It gives the average mobile user the ability to demand more from their carriers, and ask why they should ever buy an aircard, MiFi, or any other unconverged device again.
So why did the Palm Pre Plus beat out the HTC Supersonic and Motorola Droid, the other two phones contending? Couple reasons there.
First, the HTC Supersonic does have 4G. And since we were the people who coined WiMAX 4G almost five years ago (long before most people had even heard of 3G), you’d think that would be a lock. Well, here’s the problem. By the end of 2010, only about one in three Americans will have access to WiMAX on Clear/Sprint 4G service. That means, to most of you, Supersonic is simply a fast Android phone. And, with 4G just getting started, we suggest waiting for 4G to be in your area before upgrading to a 4G phone. That means, for most people, HTC’s Supersonic just isn’t the solution.
The Motorola Droid on the other hand, is an excellent all-around runner up. However, Motorola’s choice to force the Droid to carry “with Google” branding, the loss of MOTOBLUR availability (which much cheaper Android phones from Motorola carry) as well as the lack of multi-touch in nearly every application is what pushed us to the Pre Plus. There are some tradeoffs, the Droid carries a microSDHC slot, while Pre Plus has Mobile Hotspot service built-in.
In short, the Palm Pre Plus is likely to stay on top for 2010, and we think it’s the best buy out there. The Palm Pixi Plus is also a great choice, though it has a smaller screen, and comes down to personal preference for many. When gaming or going into a rugged environment, the Pre Plus is worth the extra fifty dollars, especially when staring down a two year contract.
Palm’s troubles may have also created some of the most attractive pricing options for smartphones of this caliber to-date. Not only is the Palm Pre Plus priced below the likes of Motorola Droid and iPhone 3GS, it does so without dreaded mail-in rebates. This also makes it a prime candidate for upgraders on Verizon, who often are prohibited from taking advantage of mail-in rebates.