Smart phones can be small

by Volker Weber

Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus

Last week the UPS guy brought two new phones: a Palm Pre Plus and a Palm Pixi Plus. The Pre Plus is very similar to the Pre. It loses a button (the touch area performs the same function without the button), it has an improved slider mechanism, and more importantly doubles both storage and RAM. The Pixi Plus is a new device to this market. The Pixi has never been sold here. And it's a very interesting one.

Both the Pre+ and the Pixi+ have a new keyboard layout. Orange is gone as a secondary color, and Palm has moved around a few punctuation marks for a simple enhancement: ä is now the secondary character on a, ö on o, ü on u and ß on s. This is a very smart layout that others could copy. I like the Pixi+ keyboard better than the Pre+, since the keys are somewhat higher. Also, the candybar Pixi+ holds nicer than then slider Pre+ when typing.

Palm Pixi Plus keyboard

I never missed the button in the touch area below the screen, and frankly, it's a minor change. The big change is doubling the RAM. Apple is misleading you regarding multi-tasking. It's not about battery, it's about memory. Doubling the RAM speeds up everything when you have a couple of apps open at a time. For me that would be Mail, Calendar, Tweed, Facebook, Evernote, Phone.

The Pixi+ is fast when you have one or two apps open, but it suffers when you put the load above on the phone. Due to its weaker processor it also won't run 3D games. The screen resolution is only 320x400 instead 320x480 on the Pre+. It is very sharp, but I find it lacking out in the sun.

Palm Pixi Plus on iPhone

What I do like about the Pixi+ is the size. It's a very small phone compared to other devices. An iPhone is huge in comparison. But the Pixi packs the same punch. It will even work as a mobile WLAN router. Imagine you retire to a hotel room. Plug in the Pixi to recharge, open the mobile hotspot app and enable the WLAN router. Then use your notebook to access the internet untethered. Up to six devices can connect.

What you really want is the optional Touchstone wireless charger. It spares you from fiddling with the small doors that hide the microUSB port. Just place the phone on the Touchstone and it will hold it in place while charging it. The Pre+ now comes with the required back, but for the Pixi+ you have to buy it extra. If you experience the behaviour below, it's broken and needs to be replaced.

Both phones will be sold by O2 and Vodafone a week from now in Germany. If you have a Pre, I don't think you need to upgrade to a Plus. Should you consider buying one now that Palm isn't really "winning"? I don't think the platform will go away, even if Palm fails. The App Catalog is growing quickly (more than 10% over the last two weeks), Palm has just released a new development kit, so the jury is still out. O2 Germany has said the Pre has been the best selling smartphone for the company so far.

I did not have to bet with my own money, since these are test units. I certainly like using them. The Pre has returned to the Palm mothership, so will the Pixi Plus. The Pre Plus wins an editor-refuses-to-give-it-back award for being the more powerful of the two machines. But it was very close. If the Pixi would not have shown me its limits while multitasking, it would have won hands down for looks and the trim body.


As the Pre+ gets the coveted "Editor-Refuses-To-Give-It-Back" award, does that mean that you would be happy if it was your only mobile device? While I am quite aware of Palm's current issues, I am torn between the Pre+, Android, or BlackBerry. My carrier (Verizon) has all three from which to choose.

Gregg Eldred, 2010-04-21

How about batterylife in the Pre+? Better than the "old" Pre?

Michael Klüsener, 2010-04-21

Greg, yes, I would. But for the boring corporate it-always-works performance get a BlackBerry. If you are adventurous, get a good Android.

Michael, same thing. There isn't much difference between the two. Palm has improved the performance by handling bad 3G coverage better, for both devices. But it's still the same battery, same screen, double the memory.

Volker Weber, 2010-04-21


Nice to see some good press on the Palm phones. After having my US Sprint version of the Pre since it came out in June, I can't say I've enjoyed a phone more. The UI is by far better than my WinMo 6.5 HTC TP2 and I like it better than my Wife's Hero or my college's iPhones or Blackberries. I have more than enough apps / games to keep me busy and do what I need. The only app I am missing is a solid VPN tool.

My hope is that Palm can pull it together, maybe with HTC or someone else and send out a phone like the Evo 4g or the Incredible with the webOS. The OS with that kind of hardware would be truly unique.

The thing I can't quite understand, is why Palm hasn't really pushed the touchstones or come up with a car mount version etc. What other phone uses inductive charging? No one yet. Give it away and help people get used to not having to deal with the cord. It won't be long before they demand it.

Palm had it first.

Reid Partlow, 2010-04-21

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