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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • nycromes - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    I think Anand did a pretty good job with the review, I was kicking around the idea of picking up a new Pre sometime soon and this review just pushed me over the top. I am going to get one ASAP.

    All that being said, I am somewhat disappointed in this review. I have to agree with other posters that the article was a confusing piece (Palm Pre Review or Iphone wish list). Certainly the Pre has some room to improve (hopefully software updates can address some of the issues Anand described). I know that the Iphone is a very popular phone and as such it will be one of the top comparison phones, but people still give Apple way too much leeway for cutting out features in the name of a simple experience. I am happy to see Palm doing what it can to put features back into a phone that gives a similar to the Iphone experience.

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Thanks guys. I see it this way: Apple set the bar very high with the iPhone, to take a step backwards in anything the iPhone perfected is bound to be disappointing. No visual voicemail? No full system-wide search? Slower app launches and choppier animations? These, in my mind, are unacceptable given that Apple already provided the market with a good blueprint of what to do.

    If Palm didn't force me to give anything up that the iPhone delivered, I would switch in a heartbeat. I either want Palm to perfect the Pre or Apple to adopt Pre-features, I don't really care which one happens, I just want at least one of them to happen :)

    Take care,
  • nycromes - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    The article makes more sense when you put it that way. Again, thanks for the great review. It helped me make up my mind on the Pre.
  • Lozil - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Ya, Multitasking, Being cool, Physical keyboard. The Phone just seems Right.

    I don't understand why Anand is so inclined to iPhone..! Even when the Pre is better, You Just doesn't want to agree on that, Just wants Apple to give those Features...

    Man i got confused... It's a Palm Pre Review or iPhone Enhancement Request... :P
  • bigboxes - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Thanks for this timely (and in depth) product review. Sounds like Palm has a lot of optimization to do with the OS before I'd ulitmately consider it for my next phone.

    My quick research shows that this device does not have an expansion slot for memory. Does the Pre allow you to install additional codecs? It supports MP4, H263 and H264, but not the XviD codec. Although I encode my videos using the X264 codec these days, I have a lot of DivX/XviD files in my collection. Does it allow users to assign an mp3 as a ringtone or does it require users to use a specific format? Palm's website lists "Bluetooth tethering" as a feature. Any chance that you tested that out? Speaking of bluetooth, how is this device's performance with other bluetooth devices? The security setup? How is the call quality when using the phone with no headset? The microphone? Does Palm have any plans on upgrading the Pre to a metal housing or even offering one in the near future? I'd also like to see support for MSN IM or maybe offer a Trillian-like app (or something like that).
  • cjb110 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    A lot of the Pre reviews have mentioned the keyboard being ok, but not great. None of them mention the bonus of actually having all of screen space available while you type. Yea the iphone and android's have bigger screens, but so what if you loose half every time the keyboard appears.

  • prophet001 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    absolutely hilarious "dude i just took the biggest poop. wanna see?"
  • strikeback03 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Didn't he use that in his first iPhone review? Which didn't have picture messaging?
  • Rolphus - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link


    On the browser performance page, I couldn't spot any mention of which version of the iPhone OS you're using for comparison? I've found 3.0 to be much faster, having benefited from the updated WebKit builds including the "Nitro" JS engine and general render speed improvements (I assume the Pre has this build as well). Would you mind clarifying or pointing me toward the answer?

    Many thanks,

  • ltcommanderdata - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link">

    Well the first teardown of the iPhone 3G S seems to confirm that Apple too uses a ARM A8 Cortex SoC with PowerVR SGX as predicted. I wonder if the hardware similarity between the Palm Pre and the new iPhone will put pressure on Apple to implement multitasking. They could argue hardware limitations for the older models, but it's difficult to hold back now that the Pre has shown it can be done well on newer hardware. Sadly, it'll probably be the major new feature of iPhone OS 4.0 next year.

    On a hardware note, I wonder what version of the PowerVR SGX is in the new iPhone. The SGX520 as Anand predicts or the SGX530 as the Palm Pre. I'm guessing the teardown wouldn't be informative on this and we'll have to wait for driver analysis.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now