Will iPhone get its bell rung by Pre?

Ladies and gentlemen, weighing in at 4.79 ounces, is the new contender for Coolest Phone in the Universe -- the Palm Pre.

Can the Pre, which goes on sale today, beat the 4.78-ounce reigning champion, the Apple iPhone?

Here’s a comparison of the two phones’ major features:




Both phones have a basic cost of $199, but the Pre requires a payment of $299 upfront with a $100 mail-in rebate.

Winner: Tie, as long as you don’t mind waiting for the Palm rebate.


The Pre is tied to the Sprint network. It offers an unlimited call/data plan for $99.99 a month.

The iPhone uses the AT&T; network, which has an all-inclusive plan of $129.99 a month.

Both networks also offer cheaper call and data plans, but they come with restrictions such as minute limits.

Winner: The Pre is the better value choice.


The iPhone has an on-screen, virtual keyboard that’s part of its charm. But it’s not nearly as easy to use as a mechanical keyboard.

The Pre’s slide-out keyboard is surprisingly usable, given that it’s packed into a small space. It’s not as user-friendly as the keyboards on some BlackBerry models but a heck of a lot easier to use than the iPhone’s.

On the Pre keyboard, you could easily write a sonnet. On the iPhone, you’d be lucky to get though a haiku.

Winner: The Pre, hands down.


The iPhone’s screen measures 3.5 inches, diagonally.

The Pre’s is about 3 inches.

Both offer high-quality images, and both orient automatically between portrait and landscape views, depending on how the phones are held.

Winner: iPhone, because it’s bigger.



Remember when communicating by phone just meant talking? Ask your dad about it.

Text communication is all-important now; both the iPhone and Pre do it nicely.

For instant messaging, both can access the popular AIM and Google Talk applications. IPhone users can download several other instant messaging clients, including Yahoo Messenger.

But the Pre has one feature that makes it especially shine. It delivers IMs in the same on-screen conversation string as phone text messages, so you don’t have to switch applications to see and respond to them. It might seem like a small thing, but to those who primarily communicate through IMs and text messages, it’s a real time saver.

As for e-mails, they come through seamlessly on both.

Winner: Pre, because of the integration of texting and IMs.


The Pre comes with approximately 30 applications that provide the functionality of the device -- everything from making a call to e-mailing. An additional 25 or so are available for download.

The iPhone has more than 35,000 apps available, including some astonishingly handy and even beautiful programs invented by users.

Winner: iPhone, although Pre could catch up in time.


Apple invented iTunes, by far the most popular (and easy to use) organizer of digital audio and video.

Pre did not try to reinvent the wheel. With minimal effort, it syncs to iTunes too. However, Pre users cannot buy music directly from iTunes. They have to use Amazon.

And an important note for people who previously purchased media from iTunes: Videos bought from the service will not play on the Pre because they use Apple’s exclusive digital rights management protection. Also some music purchased before January, when Apple dropped all such protection for audio, won’t work on the Pre.

Both phones show videos beautifully.

Winner: iPhone because of full iTunes integration.


This is where iPhone users are going to be mighty jealous.

The Pre is a multitasking wonder that can keep active numerous apps simultaneously. For example, you can quickly flip among the programs you use for e-mailing, IM, scheduling, Web surfing and more. On the iPhone, you have to close a program before you open another one.

Single focus is good when meditating or listening to a friend, but multitasking is much more convenient in tech communications.

Finally, the Pre does a far better job of integrating the address book and calendar data it picks up from Facebook, Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail and Apple’s own MobileMe.

Winner by a knockout.: Pre.

Overall winner

The iPhone makes available thousands of wondrous apps.

But for sheer functionality, the Pre takes the prize because of its keyboard and multitasking abilities. If not the clear winner, the Pre is a very serious contender.

However, this could all change next week when Apple holds its annual developers conference. Rumor has it that the company will be unveiling a new version of the iPhone.

The next round is about to begin.