I like my iPhone 5 okay I guess, but I miss my Palm Pre

I got an iPhone 5 on the day it came out.

Now, I don’t normally jump on bandwagons. I’m quite anti-bandwagon, actually. So why, then, did I get the iPhone?

Because I’d had it with my once-beloved Palm Pre. Shortly after I got my Pre, Hewlett Packard bought Palm – and then promptly shut down their mobile phone business. For a long time being on an orphaned platform didn’t matter much. My Pre was plenty fast, and I loved having the Internet in my pocket. But pretty quickly the OS updates stopped coming, and after many months my phone started behaving badly. I’d have to reboot it every two or three days when it would bog down or fail to connect to the data network and to wi-fi. I spent as much time cursing the phone as enjoying it. I knew the day was coming when I’d have to choose a new phone.

As I read the news online sone morning over breakfast, a headline read: New iPhone Available for Pre-Order Today. So I went to my carrier’s Web site to see when my contract ended.

It ended that day.

I took it as a sign and placed my order. My phone arrived before noon on the day of release.

iPhone 5 and Palm Pre

I expected to fall madly in love with my iPhone – but I just haven’t. The iPhone is a very good device. It offers features my Pre could only dream of. Its app selection is truly astonishing. It is blisteringly fast. It is wafer thin and feather light.

But the Pre’s WebOS operating system beats iOS hands down in usability. Its “card” metaphor with its extensive use of finger swiping for navigation provided a much more natural usage experience for me that imprinted hard in my brain. Even now, weeks after receiving my iPhone, I still sometimes try to swipe my finger across the area below the screen, which acted like a “back” function on the Pre. My iPhone, of course, does nothing in response.

My Pre also had a slide-out physical keyboard that worked much better than the on-screen typofest the iPhone provides.

It’s too bad HP killed Palm. I would have loved to see the WebOS platform get the love and attention necessary to stay competitive with iOS and Android. I would almost certainly have upgraded my phone within the WebOS family.

I try to take consolation in the fact that I can play Bejeweled on my iPhone. I love Bejeweled. It was never available for my Palm.

I upgraded to the Pre from a flip phone. I wrote a sad goodbye to it – go read it!


27 responses to “I like my iPhone 5 okay I guess, but I miss my Palm Pre”

  1. traveller858 Avatar

    Interesting thoughts. Being a complete Apple  freak I can only assume that you will come out the other side. Seriously though in six months time you will wonder what caused you these problems. It is a much more stable platform and allows so much access to other things without thinking about it. Remember your frustrations and post again on the 6th anniversary! 

    1. Jim Avatar

      Apple’s ecosystem if you will is vastly superior to the Palm’s, but seriously, WebOS was a much better user experience! Even after, what, a month with my iPhone, I still find some usability quirks about it to be disappointing. Not dealbreakers though. Like I said, this phone is FAST, and boy, that’s hard to beat.

  2. Larry Avatar

    I went to the 4s after a year of frustration with a Blackberry. And since I use an iPad for about everything I do (rarely even sit down at the PC in my house anymore) and since the office at my church sports a really nice iMac, the iPhone offers so much in the way of interfacing between devices that I cannot imagine going to another platform unless a lot of stuff would change.

    1. Jim Avatar

      That’s the real beauty of the Apple ecosystem — everything works together seamlessly.

      I keep looking at the iPad. I have two at work that we use for things and they’re fun. But I create so much content that I just simply need a physical keyboard and a reasonably ergonomic place to sit. So I might as well just stick with my PC.

  3. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    I spent years sneering at anyone who bought a phone that was anything other than that: just a phone. Up till about two years ago, that’s exactly what I had… a cell PHONE. It was like a portable phone booth. I turned it on when I needed to make a call, and turned it off again when I was done. It didn’t take pictures, it didn’t go on YouTube, it didn’t play Angry Birds. It was pretty much just like Maxwell Smart’s shoe, except the Chief couldn’t reach me on it because it was turned off most of the time. “Sorry about that.” :)

    A couple of years ago now I decided it was probably time to move on, and I ended up with a Samsung with a slide-out keyboard, and suddenly I found myself texting people I knew a lot, and transferring money between my bank accounts on the fly, and sometimes taking a quick shot of things to send to friends… hey, here’s a deal on that flat screen you wanted, look… Last winter I upgraded to another Samsung that runs Android (also with the slide-out keyboard; I made sure of that… couldn’t do without that), and now I’m checking my phone to see what the traffic looks like on GoogleMaps and find out where bank machines are and stuff like that. It’s on all the time now, and I dumped my land line nearly two years ago. It’s hard for me to imagine how I did without it. Funny how it goes.

    Oh, and I’m a big fan of Bejeweled 3, but I play it on my computer at home. :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      I avoided getting a cell phone at all as long as I could, and look at me now!

      I miss my Palm Pre’s slide-out keyboard. But the iPhone lets me type pretty much anything anywhere by voice. That’s not always practical — such as when I’m in public — but it works pretty well otherwise. You do have to speak the punctuation comma otherwise your words show up as one long stream comma but you get used to that pretty fast period.

  4. Ted Kappes Avatar

    I do feel out of the loop on this subject. Most of what I do on a computer is photo and video editing and so far that doesn’t seem to work too well on the small tech.

    1. Jim Avatar

      No, it wouldn’t. I use Instagram sometimes; it’s fun. But that’s hardly full-fledged photo editing.

  5. ryoko861 Avatar

    Jim, I’m seeing an opportunity here…….you’re the tech guru……..you know all about this stuff…..can you get your hands on that technology some how? It would probably cost a bundle to buy it out though. I’m sure many others feel the same way you do.

    I have a flip phone. I text. I receive calls and pictures. It has no data plan let alone a data cord. I have to send a picture via text to my son who then emails it from his phone to me. I wouldn’t know what to do with an iPhone. At least I know more about this stuff than my husband. He still doesn’t know how to turn his on. Then again, he never uses his phone. Unless he’s lost in Allentown.

    1. Jim Avatar

      HP made WebOS open source, so it’s free software now. But I’m no programmer, not anymore, not in years. I have no real desire to be that technical anymore!

      I’ve been lost in Allentown, so I relate.

  6. Michael Avatar

    Well, you know I have no plans to ever drink the Apple Kool-aid and their joke of an OS. :) But then I don’t do graphics, publishing, play games, etc. so it may work for others.

    I love the fact I can tweak just about anything I want on my Samsung Android-based phone. I’ve not had much problem typing on the screen. I specifically didn’t want a real keyboard – too bulky, heavy and prone to breaking. Sometimes I use Swype to type and I’ve toyed with speech to text – both have worked surprisingly well.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I had a Palm Pilot years ago and came to be pretty fast with their stylus-based writing system; Swype sounds similar. But srsly, voice works great, at least when I’m not in a meeting at work and can use it.

      I’m not so much drinking the Apple kool-aid as I am just buying a device that works. That’s what it’s all about for me. Revoke my geek card if you must, but the days of custom configuring things and getting into the lower levels and guts of a device are well in my past. It just doesn’t appeal to me anymore.

  7. Andy Evans Avatar

    I switched to a Nice new android phone from my beloved palm pre 2. I have tried to like it, but I still miss my palm! I will probably switch back tbh.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m too addicted to the speed and ecosystem of my iPhone to go back to my Pre. But I still keep my Pre on the touchstone charger at home and use it around the house as an Internet device over wifi.

  8. Brent Avatar

    i’m still using my palm pre, and love although it has a mind of it’s own but, the operating system beats android and ios. I’m waiting for sprint to get blackberry z10 which is a evolved version of webos done right. Although no word on the z10 just the q10 (qwerty) I want a bigger screen though. Android doesn’t feel natural what so ever. I’m a lost one. Physical keyboard is nice though I just want a bigger screen

    1. Jim Avatar

      After a few months I’m more used to my iPhone but I still miss the UI on the Pre.

  9. Adi Avatar

    I’ve had my iPhone for over a year and I still hate it. Every time I have to use iTunes I wonder if I couldn’t fix my old Pre or buy a new one.. Apple is monstrously frustrating, and the Pre was everything I wanted in a phone. I mean, dragging and dropping music? Fuck iTunes. If I only knew more about it I would run WebOS on my iPhone. iOS is killing me.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’ve gotten used to my iPhone’s usage now and love how much faster it is than my Pre. But I hate the iTunes interface too.

  10. Brandon Campbell Avatar
    Brandon Campbell

    I totally agree! I have an Android phone and an iPod Touch and they’re nice for some things, and I love some of the games and apps that wouldn’t have been possible without a touchscreen, but when it comes to actually typing texts and stuff, I miss the physical keyboard on my Palm Treo 650! Used to be, if you had a Blackberry or some other phone with a keyboard, you were hot stuff. Now most of the ones I see like that are cheap prepaid phones, and everyone wants a full touchscreen instead. Even Blackberry is making phones without keyboards now, what’s the point?

    My Treo had the best of both worlds, and I found its screen easier to use and more accurate because you used a stylus, or if you lost it (like I did) you could even use your fingernail. Having to use my fat greasy fingers seems like a step backward, a few Android phones still have a slide-out keyboard but not enough.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Brandon, I’m slowly getting used to the on-screen iPhone keys. But I like using voice recognition to speak my texts and e-mails even more. Still, there’s no substitute for a real keyboard, and the one on my Pre was really good.

  11. me Avatar

    Agreed! I now have a nice, fast, Razr M (Android) and miss the WebOS interface terribly on my Palm Pre+. Now, I liked the idea of an actual keyboard and all, but mine was awful to use-hard nubby keys that missed half the time. I would love to have the WebOS cards, swipe, etc. I can do everything I would want on my Razr M, but it takes me 2 more steps to do it vs. WebOS.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I still miss WebOS. I do not miss how slow my Pre was. At all. When I got it out over the summer to take the software update they pushed, I was shocked by how long it took to boot and for apps to load. I’ve gotten quite used to the iPhone 5’s speedy loading. I might make more steps on my iPhone but I’m done faster overall because the steps click right by.

  12. me Avatar

    Oh, and, the size of the Palm Pixi was very attractive. I think it was smaller than any current smart phone and very light. I don’t need a huge screen-I’d rather have something that fits neatly into my pocket but can still give me directions on a map in a pinch. Even the diminutive Razr M weighs me down more than I like.

  13. me Avatar

    Oh, and one more… inductive charging! Just place the Palm Pre on the dock (a 1.5″ or so wide cylinder with the top cut at a ~45 degree angle) and it charges, while the screen becomes a digital clock. Easy and brilliant!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I had that charging dock and loved it.

  14. rosel Avatar

    I just bought a palm pre 2 to replace my pixi plus because webos 2.1 > webos and my sound had died. ebay, $19. still happy with webos.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ah, but the iOS ecosystem is so tasty.

      I will always with WebOS had taken off. Even if it were a third-place runner after Android and iOS. I would have stuck with WebOS.

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