Couple of weeks ago, I had compared Palm Pre with iPhone 3G. Now it’s time for the real deal, yes, a comparison between Palm Pre which goes on sale today and the new iPhone (specs are based on details provided by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber and those posted by an Apple fan blog). I enjoyed comparing both the smartphones and I hope that you enjoy reading it too.
When I first posted the comparison between Palm Pre and the existing iPhone, a lot of users called it an unfair comparison and rightly so. Apple is expected to announce their third generation iPhone at WWDC which is expected to up the ante with hardware improvements bundled with iPhone OS 3.0.
Let us begin the comparison between the hardware features of both Palm Pre and the new iPhone.
This comparison is based on the specs that an iPhone fan blog had claimed were of Apple’s new iPhone based on a source close to Apple’s hardware team. Most rumors and speculations about Apple’s next generation iPhone have suggested that they aren’t too far fetched.
In case of Palm Pre, the battery is removable which will make many users happy.
But, in my opinion, the new iPhone is a clear winner here thanks to (a) 3.2 megapixel camera with the autofocus as well as bring video recording capabilities, (b) Storage capacity of 32GB, (c) Slightly bigger screen size.
We don’t have information on the RAM that will be available in Palm Pre, Apple’s new iPhone is expected to have 256MB RAM up from 128MB RAM in current iPhone models.
The digital compass is another feature but I’m not too excited about it.
Winner: New iPhone
There are rumors that the new iPhone could also come with an OLED screen, which will greatly improve the battery life and front facing camera for video calling. If that happens then Apple’s next generation iPhone will be miles ahead of Palm Pre.
Both Palm Pre and Apple’s new iPhone (thanks to iPhone OS 3.0) will support SMS and MMS. Sprint will allow Palm Pre users to do instant messaging on multiple IM networks, and the same will be possible on the new iPhone thanks to instant messaging apps like BeejiveIM.
We have the unending saga about the battle of physical keyboard vs. the virtual one. Opinions vary and so does users choice. Hence, I will leave this to the consumers to decide. For some it’s a real deal maker and for some it’s just a matter of getting-used-to.
For email usage, both will support the IMAP and Microsoft Exchange. Both will support the calendar feature where as Palm Pre will come with a to-do-list.
As covered earlier, Palm Pre’s Synergy (Palm’s personal information management system) will sync contacts, calendars etc to the cloud.
Reports have indicated that Palm Pre will come with the ‘Documents to Go’, Adobe Reader which means that Pre will support document editing and viewing of PDF files. In case of the iPhone, its possible to achieve it with iPhone app – QuickOffice app.
Winner: It’s a tie
Winner: The processing power of both smartphones is comparable on paper but how will they fare in the real world remains to be seen. It’s a tie.
The Push notification is Apple’s answer to Palm Pre’s multi-tasking capability. Users are more than aware of how important it is to have this capability. An instant messaging app would be able to notify the user of an incoming message even when this app is not running. iPhone’s limited battery life has kept this necessary feature out of reach but Apple looks to bridge this gap with Push Notification.
Palm Pre’s web OS will come with multi-tasking capabilities and it looks quite user friendly. But it will be interesting to see how this affects battery life, initial reviews suggest battery life isn’t very good.
Copy-Paste: Both Palm Pre and iPhone OS 3.0 will support the basic capability of being able to Copy-Paste content.
Universal Search: Both Palm Pre and iPhone OS 3.0 will come with a universal search. Palm Pre’s OS will support this feature while in case of the new iPhone, iPhone OS 3.0 will include Spotlight for iPhone, which is Apple’s universal search solution for the iPhone.
Winner: There is no clear winner as Apple has cleverly included all the features that Palm Pre is trying to claim as its Unique Selling Points.
However, the ability to run apps in the background is touted by many as one of the killer features of Palm Pre.
App Store Comparison:
There is simply no worthy opponent to Apple in this area. The App Store has an almost unparalleled features and an incomparable range of apps that help us with the day-to-day mundane stuff as well as with the more complicated ones. I haven’t heard of any game plan from Palm that aims at tackling this.
iPhone OS 3.0 will bring In-App purchase which will make the App Store even more attractive to iPhone developers.
Apple might not be making a lot of money with the App Store but it adds to the stickiness which is invaluable.
Winner: New iPhone
The overall cost to consumer could be a reasonable big factor in this comparison. Sprint will offer Palm Pre at a price tag of $199 (with two year contract and after the $100 mail-in rebate), which is the same price at which AT&T offers iPhone (16 GB iPhone, two year contract).
Sprint’s monthly plans will be priced at $69.99 and $89.99 with a choice of 450 or 900 anytime minutes respectively. Now, AT&T requires a $30-per-month data plan, a further $39.99 for the 450 minutes and an additional $20 per month for unlimited text messaging. Thus AT&T comes $20 dearer compared to Sprint’s data plan.
The question remains that will users switch from AT&T to Sprint; Sprint still lags in terms of having a more reliable network and service levels.
Winner: There is no clear winner in this situation but Sprint’s ‘Everything Data’ plan might have an edge.
I was very impressed with Palm Pre’s wireless charging device. The user will be able to charge Palm Pre by simply placing it on a wireless charging dock, the magnets in the dock will align the phone in the correct position for charging. Unfortunately, this wireless charging kit has to be bought separately and will cost $69.99.
In iPhone OS 3.0, Apple will be allowing accessory manufacturers to create iPhone applications to interface with their hardware accessories over Bluetooth. I think this has huge potential based on the demo given by Johnson and Johnson at Apple’s special even in March, showing off their medical iPhone app which works with a small dock connector over Bluetooth serving as a finger pricking device for glucose testing.
Apple has developed a habit of staying ahead of the competition. In my opinion, the hardware improvements in the next generation iPhone and iPhone OS 3.0; it continue to remain ahead of its competition.
Palm Pre looks quite impressive (on paper) but its performance can be truly gauged after it enters the real world! Its the first device which has come close to giving Apple iPhone some serious competition (at least on paper and the buzz that it has generation) which is great (and kudos to Palm engineers for that) as it will force Apple to keep innovating aggressively which is ultimately great for end users like us.
I want to also note that this might be an unfair comparison as we are comparing Palm Pre with Apple’s next generations whose features are based on rumors and speculations. I will revisit this comparison when I find out more about Palm Pre and also when Apple’s new iPhone becomes official. You can also check my comparison of Palm Pre with iPhone 3G.
My money is on Apple’s new iPhone and the iPhone OS 3.0. How about you? I am curious to hear your opinion, so please feel free to drop me a line in the comments section.