Today I am the proud owner of my first smartphone – a Palm Pre Plus. In the past, I had openly coveted the smartphones of others and obsessed about owning one of my own, but couldn’t get passed the idea of renewing my contract. This contract commitment phobia led to a sub-par relationship with the same basic cell phone for the past three years. Whether you are a techie, the average user or somewhere in between, you have probably taken advantage of upgrade offers and the opportunity to get something newer and better at a low price. Yes, I passed up at least one upgrade in those three years, but I was paralyzed by the thought of taking the bait and renewing my contract. What if I later decided that I wanted a new carrier? What if I upgraded just as an even better phone was set to release right around the corner? If I was going to make the leap with my current carrier and solidify our relationship for another two years, I couldn’t waste my upgrade on a passing fad or a phone that wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
Part of my problem was also that I couldn’t find the smartphone that held that special spark for me. The iPhone seemed like a great option, but could I really switch to AT&T from my trusty Verizon? My fears about AT&T were readily confirmed during my family’s Christmas vacation to Walt Disney World, where we experienced AT&T’s version of the “Cell Phone Tower of Terror.” After narrowly surviving half a day of “Can you hear me now?” moments and dropped calls on my parents’ AT&T phones, my family swapped cell phones around so that when we divided up at Disney, each group had a non-AT&T cell phone at all times. I looked briefly at BlackBerrys, but once I tried their Web browser I found myself wanting more. I even flirted with the idea of a Droid, but quickly decided that its masculine look and flimsy keyboard weren’t right for me. I began to wonder whether I would ever find “the one.” Why wasn’t there an eHarmony for smartphones that could match me with my dream phone based on our 29 dimensions of compatibility?
Then everything changed with the launch of the Palm Pre Plus and the webOS 1.4 update. For weeks Palm had been popping as I searched for my perfect smartphone, and the release of webOS 1.4 drove home the decision to go with the Pre Plus.
Funny, I can’t help but laugh every time I write the terms “webOS” and “webOS 1.4." Until a few weeks ago I had never heard of either. Truth be told, I am no techie. I am just an individual who enjoys technology - all the extraordinary possibilities that it creates and enables - in theory, but really only utilizes it on a mainstream level. I didn’t even realize that Palm was still a contender in the smartphone market before I came across the Pre Plus. Very few of the stores I had been to during my search even carried Palm, and my only “experience” with a Palm was a sweet but short-lived relationship with a Palm Pilot back in 2000.
So why the Palm Pre Plus, especially when theres so much Verizon-faithful hype surrounding the Droid and other Android-based smartphones? webOS and I have a spark between us, plain and simple (The phone's stylish look and physical keyboard were great selling points, too). webOS is super slick – its multitouch capabilities and ability to swipe applications in and out of view are just fun, while also smooth and practical. It’s also very satisfying to swipe away an application that I no longer want on my screen. Intuitive and cool – what could be better?
Multitasking with webOS is phenomenal. I cannot operate in just one application or screen while doing my work as an administrator for, ironically, a software company. I often will read an email that requires me take action via other programs or documents, or need to refer to an email while doing another task or two (or three). I need to be able to move between open screens seamlessly and simultaneously, and I can do it with webOS. An in-store demo of the previous version of webOS left me feeling like it was a little slow when opening applications. This was frustrating and something of a deal-breaker for me. The 1.4 update makes opening applications faster - and more satisfying since I can now see the system working on my request before my eyes.
webOS also has an outstanding notification system. As a part-time telecommuter and full-time stay-at-home mom of a seventeen month-old, I am not always in front of my computer, but still need to know when emails come in and things need to be done. Instant notifications of new emails on my Pre Plus - both on-screen and via notification light - has been a life-saver. I now know that as long as my phone is near, I can play with and take care of my daughter without missing a beat, work-wise.
The Palm Pre Plus won me over, and I am sure this is only the beginning of a great relationship. Is my contract commitment-phobia cured? Maybe, maybe not. I guess we'll have to wait and see two years from now.