Palm Pre Vs Rumored iPhone 2009: Features Comparison

The specs for Palm's Pre smartphone are now officially on public view, and it looks like a fairly hot-ticket item. But with more swirling rumors about the next-gen iPhone, it was time to update our features comparison.

When we first compared the Pre to the iPhone, we were working mainly on how the software features of the two devices stood up against each other, based on newly-released details of the iPhone 3.0 firmware. But of course Apple had kept some aspects of iPhone 3.0 shuttered, lest they give away specs of the expected upcoming iPhone refresh—the expectation is that those unrevealed features would dovetail with new tech in the new hardware. Since then, rumors have popped up about hardware and software, some with a surprising level of detail and some sourced from within Apple's own code. So here's how the Palm Pre might stand up to Apple's iPhone 2009 version, with the iPhone 3G thrown in for good measure.

Palm Pre vs Apple iPhone

Palm Pre vs Apple iPhone

It makes for an interesting list, doesn't it? Palm has done a fabulous job of brushing the Pre and its neat webOS up to a spec that might challenge the iPhone for supremacy among smartphones—it's the closest contender so far. But Apple's iPhone 3.0 firmware will add many features that are currently missing from the existing iPhone 3G—things like MMS and, just possibly, video recording—to that phone's capabilities, since Apple has taken the interesting course of developing new firmware that also updates its older hardware. And the iPhone 3.0 firmware will sit most naturally on the next-gen iPhone with its rumored extra processor power and updated hardware.

And when you've glanced down that comparison list, remember that the 8GB Pre costs $300 before a $100 mail-in rebate, while the rumored 32GB iPhone 2009 may also come in at a $300 price point. It begins to look like, in the duel for success, Palm's phone might be in a struggle for its life against the might of Apple's new smartphone. Anyone taking bets?

[via Macrumors, DigiTimes, AppleInsider, TheiPhoneBlog]

Related: Palm Pre vs iPhone 3.0: A Feature-by-Feature Comparison
Related: Palm Pre Challenges iPhone to a Duel On June 6—Who Will Win?
Related: Will the New iPhone Come in Different Flavors—Like the iPod—to Boost Sales?

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  • Rick Barreto

    I'll admit that I'm a bit biased towards Apple hardware (22 yrs of happy ownership) and I'll also admit that I have not ventured too far into the smartphone arena, but my bet is with Apple. Each network has it's issues but if these specs are an indication, the iPhone will capture more from an imagination perspective. My biggest turnoff of the Pre is that it's on Sprint's network. I had them for two years and it was the absolute worst network service and customer service that I ever had.

    I have several friends that have Blackberrys and like you, they insist on real keyboard buttons. I guess for me, that's not a big deal because I never text. I would be using for web browing and e-mail, so I would want the bigger screen, although the flip QWRTY keyboard on the Pre is nice.

    I guess it'll boil down to this... most of you sound like business users and I can see where the Palm/Blackberrys might be more appealing. I think I fall into the camp where the visual and graphics aspects of the iPhone are more appealing. Again, kind of like the difference between someone buying a Mac vs PC.

  • Kit Eaton

    @Greg. This is a pretty interesting new twist on the old Macs vs PCs merrygoround isn't it?!

  • Steven Cheung

    Third party applications. That's where the real difference the 2 phones is going to lie. Palm has been on a downward slide for at least 3 years now and I don't see the Pre reversing the fortune.

  • Kit Eaton

    @Tom, yup--depending on where you look for your news, it seems you U.S. chaps get a rough deal when it comes to mobile phone networks! I've hopped networks nearly every year, merely following where the best deal is. @Andrew. It doesn't help that Palm itself labels it "multiple activities"! It's at the bottom of the list with the other two OS features since in my earlier post I covered the more softwarey angle. Point of interest, though--Palm's advertising background apps as if *it* invented them, and you've been able to do it on WinMo for years! (my last phone was a WinMo)

  • Andrew Christie

    Sorry Kit, wasn't sure what 'Bground Apps' meant. My guess is that more people would recognize the term 'Multitasking'. And again, I don't think it reflects well that you use the more cryptic terms for the features the Palm definitely has but the iPhone doesn't or might not have. I suspect that if it was the other way around (with the iPhone having it and the Pre not), that feature would be one of the first on the list. Am I wrong? In my opinion, and I'm sure I'm not alone, multitasking should be at the TOP of the list because it's generally considered to be the most important innovation! But no, you have all the new iPhone features listed first. Sorry, it's just not difficult to see the author's bias. In any event, I think it's interesting that Apple is playing catch up with Palm, but without quite catching up with their new iPhone, according to the rumor mill. I'm certainly not against Apple, I own Apple stock. But I must admit that it irks me that they advertise all these features as if they thought of them, when in reality, they've been around for years. You gotta hand it to them, their marketing is genius. But I think the Palm Pre is a prime example of how Apple's marketing department is more innovative than the application developers. As far as the touch screen keypad, I've tried it and I can't do it with one hand and I can't do it without constantly having to look at the phone. It's clumsy at best and just doesn't work for me. Pre won't outsell the iPhone, but if it works as advertised, it's the better, more innovative device.

  • Tom Coleman

    Yes, I'll take that bet: Palm for me, thank you. As much as I'd love to have an Iphone, AT&T will never, ever get another dime from me.

    Being a smartphone pioneer with my trusty old Treo, I've seen little reason to need anything else until now. I have my calendar, contacts, email and solitaire game. Can't think of anything else I might need an app for that would make me become a part of the evil empire again.

    Cut and paste? Pshaw, old school. Glad to see Apple is bring their phone up to 1984 standards.

    Keypad? Yeah, I kind of like to push buttons without looking. Hard to do when you have nothing to feel but glass.

    Oh, and I can make a phone call with my phone and it sounds pretty darn good. I did once drop a call when I was going through the I-10 tunnel in Mobile.

  • Kit Eaton

    @Andrew. Up there, second from the bottom: Background apps. The Pre has 'em, the iPhone does not--it has the vastly inferior "push notifications" option (though you can actually switch off those "intrusive" alerts on a per-app basis, if you like.) Apple's said it won't do true backgrounding because it eats battery life, and while that's probably true, I suspect its more of a thin excuse.
    As for the keypad issue--it's a no-brainer. There are plenty of smartphones out there, some with, some without a physical keypad. Remember when the Blackberry came out and everyone was saying "how the heck can you type on such a small thing?" Well, people do: it just takes time to get used to, like any new tech. If you've actually used a virtual keyboard for a few weeks, and still don't like it, then that's different to just dismissing it as a viable solution.

  • Andrew Christie

    The two most important features to me are the true multi-tasking with non-intrusive alerts and a REAL keypad. Multitasking is the key feature that most tech writers are saying is the most innovative feature of the new WebOS that sets the Pre apart from any smart phone design to date. So, Mr. Eaton, how the heck did you leave that off of your comparison list without blatantly announcing to each and every reader of your article that you are strongly biased toward the iPhone? And to be totally honest, I have nothing personal against the iPhone... I was strongly considered purchasing one. I think it was very innovate when it first came out. But I must have a real keypad. I type a lot and do a lot of texting, often with one hand. I CANNOT do that with an virtual keypad having to hold the phone in landscape orientation. I'd strongly recommend that if you want people other than iPhone loyalists to pay attention to your articles and comparisons, then do true comparisons that compares ALL features, not just those that showcase your personal preference.