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I have had the good fortune to test both the Palm Pre and Apple iPhone 3Gs. In my day job I am an architect with responsibilities over messaging and mobility – hence I get to try a lot of new devices in order to evaluate their applicability for our enterprise users. One thing I have come to regard as a universal truth is that ranking mobile devices is almost a waste of time. They are so subjective depending on the personal habits and preferences of the person using them.

palm_logo apple-logo-dec07 There are some things that a certain group of users will find in common - “good email experience”, “works well as a phone” or “good signal coverage and strength.” But even in these general areas there is a wide variety of experiences and preferences. With this in mind I followed all of the hype, tweets and reviews leading up to the release of these two devices. Twitter global searches are a great way to get a feel for how a device is being experienced by the Twittering public. Flaws or cool features quickly bubble to the surface via re-tweets or a preponderance of similar topics across tweets.

I have used both devices for about a week each and here are some of my completely un-scientific observations:

  • The Palm Pre implementation for Exchange ActiveSync mail is completely unsuited for enterprise companies. There is no support for remote wipe, enforcing password policies,etc. In fact, if you currently force the acceptance of these policies, you will not be able to download mail to your Pre without an exception.
  • You can remote wipe the device yourself from the Pre website you register at upon starting the phone for the first time. You can also set a screen lock PIN on the device. However, these require the user to enforce them, generally not an accepted company compliance policy.
  • Exchange email is also very basic in what it offers – which is even less than what the iPhone v1 offered. You can read, send, reply, forward. You can cut and paste.
  • Outside of the email experience, the Pre operates very nicely. It is mostly responsive and crisp, only slowing when there were more than 5 or 6 apps open at the same time.
  • I had no issue with the buttons on the keyboard and was able to adjust to using them with my sausage-like fingers in minutes. I also had no issue with the edges of the slide-out keyboard. I did not find it overly sharp or cut myself on it. Perhaps I have thick skin!
  • The phone is very comfortable in the hand. Much more so than the iPhone.
  • The iPhone 3Gs is noticeably faster than previous versions. Much faster. Very responsive and crisp when launching windows and switching apps.
  • The video camera is very nice and I find myself using it often. The resulting QuickTime files look sharp on the phone or computer. You can also trim\edit the files on the phone before uploading them to YouTube. I think we need an app here to merge files and do more advanced editing.
  • The new camera specs and macro settings are also a nice improvement. I often find myself taking pictures close up of things and this addition really helps.
  • From an email standpoint there are some nice improvements that have been asked for. They still aren't as far along as Windows Mobile with Exchange support and fidelity but they are getting there.
  • You can now create calendar appointments and invite others from the corp directory. You can also forward appointments and meeting requests.
  • You can now type emails in the landscape rotation.
  • You can now search with Spotlight across your mailbox. It is fast.
  • From a security perspective, you can now use enterprise client certificates on the iPhone. You can encrypt the user’s profile. You can enforce all settings on the device with profile policies. The iPhone now supports ActiveSync 1.2 policies.

Two things I request of the iPhone team please!

  • Add unread email counters to the home screen. Almost every other Smartphone on the market has this. I hate having to unlock my phone to see if I have any mail waiting!
  • Add enterprise strength management capabilities to the iPhone. The cool factor has the iPhone making some in-roads in the enterprise, but this wont last for much longer if Apple doesn't back it up with things like OTA delivery of enforcement policies and a real-time AD-integrated management console or way to tie in to other vendor’s management infrastructures.

Winner: iPhone by a mile!

Posted on Thursday, June 25, 2009 9:59 AM Misc , Mobility , Apple , iPhone , Windows Mobile | Back to top

Comments on this post: Palm Pre and iPhone 3GS

# re: Palm Pre and iPhone 3GS
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Nice review, ntpro!

Take a look at and you'll see that Palm is hinging the company's success on the Pre. You'll see from their pre-sales guidance that they want to make sure the Pre isn't sold to the wrong customers (i.e., corporate customers). Interesting.

Left by Jeff Guillet on Jun 25, 2009 10:17 AM

# Mr
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The lack of exchange support hindered the old iPhones. The market demands that most smartphones become business compliant. I wrote a review of the 3gs iPhone if you want to check it out.
Left by Michael Rothschild on May 18, 2010 12:41 AM

# re: Palm Pre and iPhone 3GS
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