Smartphone fever

24 Jun 2010

The iPhone 4 is on the way, but there are other options. The Palm Pre Plus and the Samsung Wave are two alternatives to check out.

Palm Pre Plus

Hewlett-Packard may have acquired Palm recently for $1.2bn after the Palm Pre failed to turn around the struggling tech firm but this belies how good the diminutive smartphone actually is.

This update in the form of the Palm Pre Plus doesn’t change things too much but it’s an opportunity to look at a vastly overlooked phone that exhibits sophisticated and understated slick functionality coming from a proud heritage (who can forget the Palm Pilot?).

When Palm switched from Windows it created a brand new operating system (OS) – the WebOS – for its Pre and Pixie range of smartphones and critics were shouting that Palm should simply have gone for Android.

Having tested the original Pre and now the Pre Plus, I say no. There are enough Android phones out there and quite a few have rubbish interface overlays. The Palm Pre Plus is poetry in motion: the operating system couldn’t be easier to use. It syncs well with both Mac and PC; you can drag and drop files, music, etc, onto it; the 3G quality on O2 is as good as the iPhone 3Gs; the camera is better than the 3Gs, it has multitasking, a slide-out keypad and it is very pretty inside and out.

I can hand over heart recommend this smartphone to both the novice and the pro, bearing in mind two quibbles: the screen isn’t exactly huge and the battery life seems average.

The Palm Pre Plus is available from O2 on four price plans starting from €40 per month.

Samsung Wave

The summer of 2010 is going to be the summer of the smartphone. Leading the charge is the Samsung Wave HD, an extremely elegant and sophisticated device that comes with probably the most high-definition screen yet to appear in the market.

It’s Super AMOLED 3.3-inch display – pretty much the same technology Samsung uses in its LCD TVs – delivers on its promise of giving a sharper, more colourful screen display and, in fairness, makes the screen quality of the iPhone and iPhone 3G look shabby and dated. Watching a video on the Wave is quite compelling.

The reason for a lot of the firepower behind the Samsung Wave is its 1Ghz processor. One of Samsung’s avowed aims is to democratise the smartphone genre, bringing the apps revolution to a wider community than just a well-moneyed few. The device comes with Samsung’s Bada OS and users can both buy apps or get them for free. Downloading the apps was fast and easy but my one criticism would be the store could do with a lot more apps to choose from.

Where the device stands out for me is the battery life. The iPhone gives you, if you’re lucky, a day at a time, but I was able to get the best part of a week out of the Samsung Wave. The device has been designed to integrate with things like Google Gmail and Twitter and does so with panache.

This is probably the sleekest smartphone to reach the market in awhile. You won’t be disappointed.

The Samsung Wave HD is available from free on bill pay from O2, Vodafone, Meteor and 3.

By Marie Boran and John Kennedy