The Keyboard, it’s so, Real

Push up on the bottom of the Pre’s screen and the keyboard awkwardly slides out from under it. You’re supposed to push up from the middle of the Pre’s screen to do it properly apparently. Either way you go about it, what you reveal isn’t any virtual keyboard - it’s a real 35 key QWERTY keyboard:

Hold down the orange button to use the alternate function on each key and hold down the shift button to yell at someone. There are dedicated @ and . keys as well as a Sym key that brings up a software keyboard (gasp) that lets you enter a variety of symbols.

The size of the keyboard means that it does take some getting used to. You can be quick with it, but not right off the bat. It takes some practice but once you get there, it won’t be a limiting factor. In fact, the biggest limit to how fast you can type is the fact that the Pre has no intelligent predictive text engine. It will capitalize new words for you and insert apostrophes when appropriate, but if you misspell a word it won’t correct it on the fly. Coming from the iPhone, this is a huge omission (Apple probably holds the patent on awesome predictive text input, Palm would probably have to clean Jobs‘ toilets weekly to get access to that one).

I must admit: the physical keyboard is nice. I’m not really much quicker with it than I am on the iPhone’s virtual keyboard, but it’s not about speed - it’s about feedback. It’s nice to just be able to push buttons, I know what I’m hitting and I don’t have to worry about whether my finger is a millimeter too far to the left or right. And yes, you can type while you’re driving (although it’s still possible on the iPhone, just easier with a real keyboard). And yes, you really shouldn’t be doing that.

Index Oh Hashmir, I’ve Used This Title Too Much Already
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  • casteve - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Palm has said that the Pre will work with old Palm OS apps...does this mean you can sync your Pre to Palm Desktop?

    Any info regarding security features? What's the level of crypto for password lock? What level of encryption is used for Palm's cloud/syncing?
  • djc208 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    I need one without a camera. I wish someone would look at non-camera phone options for those of us that can't take them to work. We're stuck with with the crap phones in the bargin bin or a very limited selection of Blackberries, and I don't really need the blackberry specific services, I just want a good phone without a camera.

    Since I'm on Sprint I'd seriously consider the Pre but the camera makes it a non-starter, and I have a moral issue with purposely breaking the camera on a brand new phone.

    Thanks for the review, but I guess I'll continue to stand outside the ride and drool.
  • one1 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    You forgot to note that you can start dialing/searching for a contact to dial by simply dialing at the launch screen, or typing out a contact name. This feature is also in Palm's treo devices.

    You can see this here:">

    You missed some gestures as well, you do not need to press the home button to get to home. simply flick up from below the home button and you can get home. Flick up again, and you get the launcher. Flick up yet again and the launcher goes back down. I've rarely found a reason to press the home button.
  • Kyusaku - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    "The iPhone also includes a Google search box and a button toolbar on the screen by default as well. There is no room for these on the Pre so they are all nearly absent."

    In the Pre browser you have no need to go to the address bar or a search box unless copy and pasting. As long as you're not in a text field, just start typing and the browser will either Google search or go to the address you just typed it.
  • solipsism - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Dear Anand,

    It appears you tested the iPhone’s WebKit browser engine from v2.x not from the latest v3.0. I know that it just came out about 30 hours ago, but I humbly request that you include the iPhone 3G v3.0 browser tests in the next article you are sure to do about the iPhone 3GS v. Palm Pre.

    Thank you for your time.

    PS: While no disk sharing is set yet they are allowing you to share your MobileMe iDisk in the future, according to this Apple Page (toward bottom)…">
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    The iPhone 3G tests were performed with OS 3.0, I just re-verified the results this morning after getting the 3GS.

    Take care,
  • MultiCarrierUser - Thursday, June 25, 2009 - link

    Wow, nice to virtually meet you. I am siked to be able to converse with you on the blog. I am part of the Sprint Support team for the Pre when it was first released. I must say the device did very well. I gave excellent support and more of the support were help and how to's, nothing dealing with failures or wanting to return the phone. I demo the phone daily, I am even beginning to write the cool apps to add to the pre's App Store. I wanted to ask you if you could run the test between the iphone 3GS and Palm Pre' using AT&T internet and Sprint's internet only? My suggestion, wipe both phones clean and leave the programming, to ensure cache, cookies, histoy, saved, bookmarks are all deleted out of the phone. Major city test is fine, somewhere that has both At&T best and fastest data coverage and Sprint has it's fastest data coverage and time the sites being pulled up. I site that is rich; (my son loves tht site) and just see what can they really do. Anand, do you agree that the iphone has so many apps to cover up that its quicker to click an app for almost any scenerio vs having to launch the web and browse to it?
  • mjhorn - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    "The other thing that would be nice to have? The ability to start typing a name from the keypad screen instead of having to open up the contacts window to search for someone"

    This is an option. Go into the Phone App, click on the Menu and choose Preferences. Turn "Show Contact Matches" On. Then type away on the dialpad for names.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Thank you!!!

    I've updated the article accordingly :)

    Take care,
  • Cobra Commander - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    I just want to thank you for not swinging off of Jobs' left nut and being exceptionally objective and observant. Having just preordered my 3GS I do not expect to be disappointed as I'm jumping into the smartphone market finally but there's been WAY too many reviewers pussyfooting around stating direct, strong opinions on the finer details of Pre v. iPhone. They may have GENERALLY said the same thing from a bird's eye view but like I said: walking on eggshells, almost apologizing for commending Palm in any way.

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