Palm Pre Review Part 4 : Battery, Bluetooth and Accessories

Battery life




We didn't have the time or the resources (like multiple users) to put the Pre through the kind of lengthy, hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners battery testing some of you might want, but we did have a chance to use this as we would our own device for a pretty good run of days (we'll likely do a follow-up post with harder numbers for specific tasks, like media playback).

In terms of real-world use, the Pre battery situation is good, not great -- though we think that you can (mostly) put your Apple-inspired fear of background processes to bed.

During heavy use -- phone on all the time, browser testing, media playing, lots of conversations -- we could make it about three quarters of the way through a day without having to plug in. We weren't over the moon with how quickly we noticed the numbers dipping, but we also weren't completely surprised. Compared with the G1 (and we're talking 1.5 here), we'd say the Pre does a tiny bit better (or very close) on battery life -- but if you're a heavy talker or plan on running media on this all day long, you'll be reaching for the charger (or second battery) come dinnertime.

Still, for the battery size (1150 mAh) and amount of data being pushed, it didn't seem like the phone was performing unreasonably, and we don't knock the fact that you can snag a second (or third!) battery if you know you're going to push it. During the more conservative days -- which we think reflect the kind of moderate use we put our phones through -- battery life declined much less noticeably from morning till night. We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for third-party options with more juice, but the brick in the box isn't too shabby at all, especially given our expectations.



Bluetooth




We didn't have a wide variety of devices to test the Pre with when it came to Bluetooth (we were on the road for the entire review period), but we did have an Aliph Jawbone and Motorola ROKR S9-HD on hand. Our experiences with the two devices were slightly different.

For the Jawbone, no matter what we tried, we couldn't get it to pair with the phone. We would have been more alarmed with this situation, but we're not entirely convinced it's the Pre's fault. We couldn't get the thing to pair with our iPhone either. We're leaving the verdict out on this one, because our experience was far different when testing out the S9-HD.

Obviously, stereo A2DP is a feature that end-users are becoming more and more accustomed to seeing on their devices -- we think Apple's addition of the option in iPhone OS 3.0 speaks to that. Palm smartly saw fit to include it out of the box with the Pre, and it seems to work perfectly. Pairing with the headset only took a few seconds (once we'd charged the thing up, of course), and the Pre flawlessly switched over from playing audio out of the external speaker to the Moto device. Quality was excellent, though in this case, you've either got a connection or you don't. Overall, the experience was about as painless as it gets -- and we see ourselves putting the feature to quite a bit of use.



Accessories




The Pre ships with a MicroUSB cable, a small pouch, and a wall adapter for charging. There's also a pair of earbuds in the box with an attached remote and microphone. In terms of fit, this may really be the area where Palm is trying to outdo Apple... in badness. We mean the buds don't fit in your ear well, if you're not catching our drift. That's kind of sad, because they're not bad looking, and they actually sound really great -- if you can manage to keep them in your ears. But you probably can't. It's a real missed opportunity for Palm, but at least you've got a standard jack that you won't have trouble filling. Seriously, can anyone get this right?

Otherwise, there's a car jack kit, which we've already seen for the Treo Pro and... a little something known as the Palm Touchstone™ Charging Dock.

The Touchstone has been the subject of a lot of attention given that it's the first induction charger for cellphones that a major manufacturer has offered, and it clearly has a lot of "wow" potential for people who aren't familiar with the technology.



Don't get us wrong, we think it's really quite cool, but in terms of practical use, we're not sure it's a must-have accessory for the Pre -- especially at $70. Yes, it's definitely great to be able to throw the phone on there for charging without mucking about with cables, and we actually prefer the soft-touch back to the glossy one which ships with the phone, but there were a few minor issues we had with the Touchstone that could make it less desirable to some. For starters, when you're charging on the Touchstone, the phone display dims but keeps the time on the lock screen... and there doesn't seem to be any way to switch it off. That may be fine if you don't mind the glow, but we didn't care for it and we don't like the idea of not having control over this setting. Additionally, the phone seems to charge much more slowly than with a direct-to-adapter connection, and the backside of the device can get pretty hot while it's on the base.

It's certainly a conversation starter and a showpiece, and we could see it for use as a secondary charging option, say, if you're using the phone for some A2DP in your living room and want an easy way to keep it juiced. Ultimately though, we think it'll be a bit of a challenge to pry that money out of most buyer's hands for something so superfluous.



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