Palm Pre Review Part 3 : Data Speeds and Backup & Restore

Data Performance

A smartphone of this caliber is nothing without a decent network to cruise on, and we were really pleased with data over Sprint's EV-DO option. Since we weren't testing side-by-side with another Sprint device, we can't tell you how it stacks up to something like the Instinct, but running side against the G1 and the iPhone on their respective networks, we definitely saw favorable results. In a somewhat unscientific run of repeated DSLReports mobile speed tests, we found that the Pre averaged 634Kbps downstream, while the iPhone and G1 nabbed 552Kbps and 413Kbps, respectively. Not drastic differences -- and obviously only in a single location -- but certainly promising if you've got good Sprint coverage.

In terms of daily use -- or what the phone actually felt like -- we found that data pushes and pulls were non-obtrusive, and it didn't seem as if we were anxiously waiting for even robust pages like Engadget to load up. Our major gripe is actually directed at Sprint's network: you can't do voice and data concurrently with EV-DO, which meant that we were constantly getting a spew of emails after speaking to someone on the phone. The problem is circumvented if you're in WiFi range, but that doesn't help you if you're on the road. The same goes for web browsing or any other instance where you need to use data -- you're not going to be checking out sports scores while talking to your buddies, and that kind of stinks.

Backup / Restore

Palm offers a new service called Palm Profiles, which promises to never leave you in the lurch should you break or lose your device. Like syncing via iTunes, it's meant to store your important user data, such as preferences, email account settings, and what applications you've downloaded. Unlike iTunes sync, however, Palm Profiles are backed up periodically in the background, over-the-air -- meaning you don't actually have to do anything to keep your info in place. Since we had a second device delivered to us by Palm, we got a really good preview of what it would be like to use the service.

In not so many words, it works... kind of. When we swapped devices and input our Palm Profile login into the new phone, it warned that another device was registered, and that it would be pulling that data down to our new phone (along with a warning to backup any files we added via mass storage mode). Then it did some kind of secret Palm voodoo where it filled our device with apps, settings and data from the other phone. It wasn't without issue, however, as we found that details like brightness settings and ringtone selections hadn't carried over to the new phone, and more shockingly, we found that when it restored our AIM and Gmail accounts, it unlinked all of the contacts layers that we'd hand-linked. Not so cool.

It did do most of what it promised, but we'd like to see some extensions to this service. It should at least get your preferences right if nothing else -- though we won't complain too much about a feature that saves us the trouble of having to re-add all of our data.


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