Verizon got all official with their first two webOS devices today, announcing pricing for the Pixi Plus and Pre Plus and sending out early review units. Aaron's got more details and analysis on the voice and data plans, including the new "Mobile 3G Hotspot" data plan add-on (which is too expensive at $40/month, if you ask me), but here's the device pricing:
- Pre Plus: $149.99 after rebate with two-year contract
- Pixi Plus: $99.99 after rebate with two-year contract
- Through Feb. 14, buy either a Pre Plus or Pixi Plus and get another Pixi Plus free after rebate
- Both phones available Jan. 25
As for the phones themselves, as we showed you a few weeks ago at CES, they're basically updated versions of the Pre and Pixi that hit Sprint last year. The major changes:
- Pre Plus gets 16GB internal storage (double the 8GB on Pre), a Touchstone induction-compatible back cover, and a much improved, Pixi-esque keyboard
- Pixi Plus gets WiFi
- Both devices support the new Mobile 3G Hotspot app
I got hands-on time with both phones at CES, and also have been mashing my thumbs on a Pixi Plus for the past several hours. Due to a shipping mix-up, I received two Pixi Pluses instead of a Pixi Plus and a Pre Plus. A swap is already underway and I'll have a Pre Plus in the house bright and early tomorrow and will tell you all about it.
In a word, both devices bring solid upgrades over the original versions, but neither is an entirely new webOS phone. That new Mobile 3G Hotspot is well implemented, if surprisingly pricey - device data plus hotspot data comes out to $70 per month on top of whatever voice plan you opt for. Unlimited everything including mobile hotspot? $160/mo. Ouch. Still, the service is easy to use and allows up to five devices to join the network simultaneously. I tried it out on Pixi Plus and the user interface is about as easy to use as could be imagined, allowing creation of an open or password-protected network on the fly.
Despite rumors that Pre Plus would rock a newer, faster processor than its predecessor, the phone has the same TI OMAP 3430 chip as you'll find in the Pre. Palm and Verizon were smart to refresh the flagship webOS device with additional storage and a much, much (much!) better hard QWERTY board - both refinements make Pre Plus newsworthy as a piece of hardware, even if it's not a brand-new Palm phone. The inclusion of an induction-compatible battery cover as standard Pre Plus equipment is smart, as well, as it makes the price of entry to Touchstone wireless charging much lower. Palm re-asserted the fact that Touchstone is a brand and the wireless charging base is but the first product in that brand when we met with them at CES. Hopefully that means more Touchstone goodies in 2010, especially since all Pre Pluses will be ready for said accessories right out of the box.
Similarly, Pixi Plus gets a much-desired if "only evolutionary" upgrade with the inclusion of WiFi. I know it's Pre's little sister, but I love Pixi, and I'm sure I'll love Pixi Plus even more now that I can get my 802.11 b/g on with it. Though Pixi's screen is noticeably smaller and lower-resolution than Pre's, it's plenty sharp and bright, and because webOS was built to be scalable to different resolutions, apps, notifications, and gestures work just fine on the more diminutive of the two new devices. Plus, Pixi Plus feels great in the hand and I, for one, prefer a candybar form factor to Pre's slider.
Though once I get Pre Plus to myself tomorrow, I may change my tune. My biggest hang up with the original Pre was its keyboard. Now that Pre Plus comes with a Pixi-style QWERTY that's much more to my liking, I could wind up singing a different tune altogether about Palm's flagship phone.