This February, a shiny new smartphone made its way to Verizon’s network. The people behind it made both the phone hardware and the software that powers it, creating an experience that’s elegant in its simplicity. There are thousands of apps available for it, with many more on the way, and some of its features can seem almost magical.
Oh, and the iPhone came out on Verizon, too.
Introducing the Pre 2
I’m going to say up-front that I prefer Android phones. I personally use an HTC Aria, and I like the way that HTC integrated Google’s open-source Android operating system with their own hardware and customizations. But the Aria’s not on Verizon’s network, and you’re probably already familiar with their flagship Android phone: The Droid.
Before I got my Aria, I used a Palm Centro. It was almost completely outclassed by the iPhone, but its PalmOS operating system — designed back during the 90’s — was zenlike and intuitive, and its hardware keyboard is the best that I’ve ever used on a phone. From what I’ve seen, the Palm Pre carried on these traditions … with a new “WebOS” operating system that still has that zen feel to it, and a slideout keyboard that’s much like my Centro’s. And now that HP’s bought Palm, the Pre 2 and its improved WebOS have been given new legs, and a spot on Verizon’s network.
Comparing the 2
You probably already know what the Verizon iPhone is capable of. Its Retina Display has pixels so small that the human eye can’t make them out, and its new front-facing camera lets you use the Facetime app to do video chats with people. Which, speaking of apps, there are over 350,000 of them available for the iPhone … which reportedly leads in both quality and quantity.
The Pre 2 only has about 5000 apps right now. But they include big-name apps like Pandora and Angry Birds, and — speaking as someone who’s tried his hand at programming — their developer support seems excellent, which means there are going to be more on the way.
Moreover, the Pre 2 has more to set it apart from the iPhone than Android phones do. Its unique card-based multitasking system lets you sort through running apps easily, and flick them away to close them. Its hardware keyboard is tiny and extremely usable at the same time, thanks to the rubberized keys. And the “touchstone” dock lets you charge your Pre 2 without wires, and will soon be able to convert it into a clock or a digital photo frame while it’s charging.
Is the Pre 2 right for you? Maybe you should ask to take a look at it, next time you go shopping for smartphones! Just be sure to check out the Android phones too … and whichever phone you walk out of the Verizon store with, I hope you have fun with it.