In around 48 hours, Palm and Verizon will debut what is certainly the most eagerly awaited smartphone launch since the iPhone 3G was launched last year with the Pre starring as the attraction.
Although the Pre is likely to be pitched against Apple's iconic smartphone, the Pre is an altogether different beast which has its own list of features that sets it apart from the competition (see 6 Reasons Why the Palm Pre Is Better Than The Rest).
Rumours of a mysterious Palm phone last year and the announcement of the Pre have pushed the shares price of the company to record highs ($1309 at the time of writing), with a rise of 800 percent over the last six months.
Boy Genius had the first Pre review more than one week ago and said that the Pre had "converted tons of people into raging Pre fanboys before they could even see the phone in person!"
Over the past few hours, scores more have managed to come through the door from some of the most popular US and UK tech journalists and here are excerpts from some of them.
Gareth Davis From Techradar : "if Palm was going to have a crack at reinvigorating itself, then this is probably the best it could have come up with. All it needs now is an Android device, although that's a little unlikely as it's just developed its own operating system, perhaps a new range based on the webOS (and it looks like we'll be getting that pretty soon) and things could be looking up for the old '90s giant."
Joshua Topolsky from Engadget: “The keyboard has been a subject of tremendous debate. Well, we can put your mind at ease folks — it’s actually pretty good. Now, we won’t lie, it’s not quite the barnstormer of the Bold or Treo 650, but it is a very, very solid typing experience nonetheless. The keys — made of a similar rubbery material which the Treo Pro and Centros use — have a surprising amount of depth given their location, and they’re actually somewhat clicky (a surprise to us).
Walt Mossberg from Wall Street Journal: “I’ve been testing the Pre for a couple of weeks, and I like it a lot, despite some important drawbacks that will have to be remedied…. I consider the Pre to be potentially the strongest rival to the iPhone to date, provided it attracts lots of third-party apps, which it sorely lacks at launch. Its design is much better than that of the two other main iPhone-class competitors: the T-Mobile G1, which uses Android, and RIM’s touch-screen BlackBerry Storm.”
David Pogue from New York Times: “The Pre has the usual feature checklist: Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G (high-speed Internet), Bluetooth (including wireless audio), good camera with tiny flash, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, tilt sensor, standard headphone jack, 3.1-inch touch screen (the same 320 x 480 pixels as the iPhone, packed into less space). The hard part is making it all feel simple and unified – over all, Palm nailed it…. ”
Edward C. Baig from USA Today: “Pre is easy on the eyes. I can’t think of a more comfortable cellphone in my hand. It has a lovely screen for taking in YouTube videos or browsing the Web. The “always-connected” software foundation at its core, which Palm designed from scratch and calls WebOS, is slick and rife with possibilities.”
That said we still don't know exactly when the Pre will be launched in the UK. We know it is very likely that O2 will bag the exclusivity, losing the iPhone exclusivity in the process but no dates or pricing have been confirmed.