AT&T Palm Pre Plus Hands-On: May 16, $150

Noah Kravitz
 from Oakland, CA
Published: May 13, 2010

I've had AT&T's new version of the Palm Pre Plus for all of twelve hours as of my writing this. Today (yesterday by the time this is published) I also received two other new phones, the LG Ally and T-Mobile Garminfone. So yeah, it was a busy Wednesday. And no, I haven't had a ton of time to check out AT&T's first webOS device just yet.

The Palm Pre Plus will be available in AT&T stores on Sunday May 16. AT&T's first webOS phone will run you $149.99 after rebate with a two-year contract. For a limited time, AT&T and Palm will throw in a free Touchstone wireless charging dock when you sign up and pay up for a Pre Plus. No word on when that offer expires. No word on an AT&T Pixi Plus, either, though we hear it'll be available for $49.99 after rebate starting June 6.

So far as I can tell thus far, this is a Pre Plus just like Verizon's Pre Plus, except with a GSM radio and a few AT&T-branded custom apps: AT&T Navigator and YP (Yellow Pages) Mobile. This Pre's QWERTY board may be slightly better than the VZW version's, but I might be making that up. No matter - both keyboards are big improvements on the QWERTY found on the original Sprint Pre. Beyond that, the AT&T Pre Plus phone synced to my Palm Profile and Facebook and GMail accounts just like every other webOS device I've tried, and I was able to flick, swipe and zoom my way around cards and Web pages on this Pre Plus just like I could on every other webOS device I've tried. Those are good things - webOS is a killer mobile platform.

Signal strength on the Pre Plus has so far been average or perhaps slightly better than average as compared to other 3G AT&T phones I've recently tried in my office. WiFi works fine. Haven't yet been able to try GPS out in any meaningful manner (though AT&T Navigator is working well enough for sitting in one place and searching for lunch spots whose locations I already know by heart).

And so while I fully intend to test this latest Palm phone out and report back to you with some full-scale findings after a good several days' or week's worth of calling and texting and AT&T Navigating about town, I also feel like I can go way out on a limb here with a review spoiler: Pre Plus is a nice device. Unless you have a specific reason for choosing AT&T, however, you should get your Pre Plus on Verizon, instead. Why? Verizon's Pre Plus is $100 cheaper up front and comes with free Mobile Hotspot service, that's why. More bang for your buck, even if you pony up for a Touchstone to match AT&T's package deal.

Unless you need a global roaming-capable Pre Plus, really want simultaneous voice and data, or hate the color red (or live in a weaksauce VZW coverage zone), Verizon's got the better deal than AT&T on what appears to be an almost identical device. But check back with me in a few days to see if I've uncovered some hidden super powers in the first GSM webOS device, just in case.

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