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Palm Pre UK Previews : Could Do (Much) Better

Only eight days before the Palm Pre is officially launch in the UK and suddenly, within a few hours, several UK Tech websites have released their reviews of the promising smartphone possibly because of some non-disclosure agreements; we shall never know though.

The Pre, as a reminder, was launched earlier this year and reaches the UK nearly 10 months after it was first demoed. It went on sale briefly in the UK, SIM free for £399 and can be purchased now for around £450.

Some have said that it is smarter than the iPhone and while we did say that the Palm Pre is better than the rest back in January, the iPhone 3GS came since and unfortunately for O2 - which has since lost the exclusivity - we don't believe that the Pre will replace Apple's smartphone.

Many of the reviews criticised the build quality of the Palm Pre. Esther Gauld of Geeks eloquently describes her reaction to the Pre's keyboard with a particular frame of reference, saying "think back to a time when the lights came on at the end of your teenage disco leading to the discovery that the person you’d been making eyes at was a little less perfect than the semi-darkness had suggested."

But otherwise, the phone itself held its promises. Times Online describes it as being "exceedingly pretty, with a sleek black finish, and looks and feels like a pebble." and "unlike many other smartphones, it easily syncs and downloads music you already own."

The Inquirer adds that the Pre is a "very impressive smartphone that ticks all the right boxes. It has a responsive, simple-to-use touch interface and links with social media and messaging services".

Multi-tasking it seems is one of Pre's forte, especially as the phone it is supposed to rival, the iPhone, sorely lacks it. WebOS, in particular, gets kudos from The Telegraph, which says of it that it "could tempt even the staunchest Apple fans away from their iPhones" and could even teach the iPhone a thing or two about how to open new applications.

Yet, paradoxically, it is not the Pre itself that is a let down but more the services that comes with the package. The App store features only 100 applications, far less than the 50,000 or so iPhone Apps and less than all other competing platforms. Developer support as well is thin and has only just been boosted with a developer program set to launch in December.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.