I was impressed with the iPhone when it came out, but not enough to warrant the expense of the device and the overpriced service plan and dealing with switching carriers (especially to AT&T). I had the Spring PPC-6700 at the time, which was decent and got me hooked on having a mobile calendar and contact database without carrying a PDA. When Palm announced the Pre, I decided I would wait for it, and if it wasn’t up to snuff, I’d cave and buy an iPhone.
Luckily, the Pre is a fantastic device. I haven’t spent enough time with the iPhone to compare it honestly, but it seems like a much more polished experience. It automatically syncs my Google calendar, my girlfriend’s calendar, my work calendar, the Red Sox schedule. It easily unifies contacts from Facebook, Google, AIM, etc. I can send someone an IM, they can respond by SMS, it all goes into a common stream. It comes with both Sprint GPS and Google Maps.
Hardware-wise, it’s a little thicker, and a little shorter than an iPhone, more along the lines of a conventional phone. The screen is fantastic, it works in the sun and is crystal clear. The touch screen is well designed even for my round fingers, it seems to intuitively know what I meant to click on. The keyboard is small, but effective.
Minor issues so far: A bug in the instant messaging client that chews through an entire battery in 6-8 hours. I disabled it and it now goes 2-3 days with light internet usage. Supposedly this will be fixed via software update. Charging uses a tiny USB connector and a cover that doesn’t feel very durable once opened (but very durable when closed). I didn’t get a touchstone (the new induction charger) yet, but I probably will, which should remedy that. The fact that it doesn’t do video is not really an issue for me, my other phone did it and I think I used it once in 2.5 years.
My major problem with now is that for some reason, Palm has not released the SDK to the public yet, and has not accepted my application. This means they missing really useful features like an RSS reader or the hundreds of other standard apps out there. There are only 30 applications to download right now, the iPhone has 50,000. Even if 99% of those are total crap, that’s still alot more than Palm is offering. They really need to open this up soon, while they’ve got some shininess.