Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

Summary: I took a look at laying out what we knew about the Palm Pre in my first Clash of the Touch Titans article and found the Pre to be an exciting device. After getting a bit of hands-on time with the Pre at CTIA in April, I asked if the keyboard was the Achilles heel and it turns out the keyboard isn't that great, but something else is much worse and is the Achilles heel for the device. Much like the T-Mobile G1 (also running a new Linux-based OS) the Palm Pre has very limited battery capacity and I can't go a full day with either of these devices.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware
12

I took a look at laying out what we knew about the Palm Pre in my first Clash of the Touch Titans article and found the Pre to be an exciting device. After getting a bit of hands-on time with the Pre at CTIA in April, I asked if the keyboard was the Achilles heel and it turns out the keyboard isn't that great, but something else is much worse and is the Achilles heel for the device. Much like the T-Mobile G1 (also running a new Linux-based OS) the Palm Pre has very limited battery capacity and I can't go a full day with either of these devices.

Yesterday, I went about 5 hours with pretty light usage of the Pre that included something like 25 emails (Gmail and Exchange), 5 minutes of calls, several Tweets made using Tweed, no Bluetooth or WiFi, about 15 minutes of Google Talk, and no music or video playing. I normally use my device a LOT more than this as shown by my common 4 hour run time with my G1 and standard battery. Luckily, you can carry a spare for your Pre or charge via a fairly common microUSB cable.

I enjoy using the WebOS mobile operating system and find it very similar to Google Android. I can do much more with my G1 thanks to a more mature application store and think the Pre will get more soon (25 apps are in the Palm App Catalog right now). While the Pre does support multitasking, with Pandora rocking successfully in the background, you don't want to get more than about 5 apps open as things may tend to slow down and I actually saw a warning that made me close something before I could open any other "cards".

I am not sure if I have a defective Palm Pre or not, but there are a few hardware issues that bother me after just 3 days of ownership. The display wobbles left and right easily in both the closed and open positions, there are a couple stuck pixels on the display (only an issue with a dark background), and a couple edges are quite sharp (bottom of keyboard and top of display). The sharp edges may be used as a theft deterrent when you can slice up your attacker with the phone, but I wouldn't doubt if we hear of people getting Pre-per cuts soon as they slide the device across their hand.

As with most QWERTY thumb keyboards, I am highly adaptable and can quickly pick up my typing speed. That said, the only things you can really do with the keyboard are enter text, set the keys to speed dial contacts, and use a funky 3-button press technique to take screenshots. Unlike the awesome G1 keyboard you cannot assign any keyboard shortcuts to the Palm Pre to launch apps. I do like the ability to set so many speed dials up with the keyboard though so maybe I can get over this limitation.

The Palm Pre is fun to use and I think there is some real promise in the WebOS. I was quite pleased with Sprint's customer service on launch day, but am not seeing very good signal strength at home, at work, or during my daily commute and think I just cannot go with Sprint in my area. This is a bit of a shame as Sprint has some very competitive voice and data plans.

I am not writing off the Palm Pre yet and will bring you my "week with the Pre" review on Friday after some more time with the device.

Is anyone else seeing these hardware issues, including poor battery life, dead pixels, wobbly screen, and sharp edges?

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

12 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Well, shazam

    Apple really wasn't lying when it said multi-tasking kills battery life.
    frgough
    • Lying or not...

      Who are they to tell me I can't multitask at the expense of battery life?

      If they want to make that a default configuration with the option to disable at our own risk, then fine, you can say they are worried about battery life and configured the phone to maximize that. But suppose I'm okay with draining the battery but I really want or need to multitask? On the iPhone OS I do not have that ability. Just about every other phone OS gives me that ability. But then again every other phone allows me to swap the battery, so perhaps that plays into it.
      Michael Kelly
    • So you admit iPhone OS isn't able to multi-task?

      Funny how all the Apple folk out there swear that
      they can listen to the built in music player and
      browse the web at the same time. Isn't that multi-
      tasking? Won't that, according to Apple, kill
      battery life?

      Oops, Apple got caught in a lie. Again.
      NonZealot
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    Matthew, I had a couple of issues that you are experiencing. 1st: The dead pixel thing... I too had 5 dead pixels, but can only notice them on the initial load screen. I will prob exchange when their not rushing to get the phone to market... but did have a similar issue with the 7 iPhone 3G's that I had to exchange last year after launch.

    2nd: I also had the sharp edge that could also cut steak. However, by day 3 of ownership, it seems to have dulled sufficiently and is now like a regular phone.

    3rd: I too was concerned about the battery on Sunday... but it appears that after a few complete discharge/recharge cycles, that the battery is lasting longer than a full day on 1 charge. I think your 1 week review should find all but the pixel issue resolved.

    I have to say I am ecstatic with my phone. I considered holding off on the upgrade to the Pre from the iPhone, but after WWDC am glad I didn't. The Pre is an excellent phone & I'm thrilled to be able to listen to Pandora while texting & sending email! iPhone's still can't do that...
    udbrad04
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    You might want to check this thread : http://forums.palm.com/palm/board/message?board.id=weboshardware&thread.id=94

    The issue appeears to be when you have your mail to sync "As they arrive". If you change that anything else (10 minutes is where I ended up putting mine) the battery life jumps. For me it surfed the web, made some calls, watched a couple Youtube videos and 8 hours later had only consumed about 35-40% of the battery.
    protoolspc
  • Battery: Doesn't sound all that much worse than the Treo

    A day of heavy use when I travel (phone, mail, web &
    hours of music) will usually use up all the battery of my
    Treo 650 before the day is done. Doesn't sound like the
    Pre is any worse. At least you can carry a backup
    battery just in case, unlike the iPhone.
    JohnMcGrew@...
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    I have been an ardent fan of the Palm series of smart phones since they first came out. I was a short term iPhone convert (for 10 days) when it first came out. However, I found that the poor battery performance, lack of copy cut paste, and no global search made me inefficient in my work so I returned the iPhone within 10 days.

    I now have the PRE and definitely do appreciate its size and functionality. However, the terrible battery life and the fact that it is so hot to the touch are causing me much angst.

    I hope that Palm will do something to improve the battery life. I also hope that the phone will not instantly catch on fire as some laptop batteries have been known to do in the near past. To conserve the battery I have turned off the WIFI and Bluetooth and am no longer receiving E-mail "as items arrive." However, receiving E-mails as the are sent is one of the reasons I have a smart phone. Now I have to either wait my 10 minutes or manually retrieve them.

    I look forward to many PRE users contacting Palm and using posting and message boards to convince Palm engineers to fix the battery issues as soon as possible. Either a longer lasting battery replacment or software that will increase battery life is what I'm looking for.
    winercr@...
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    I have been an ardent fan of the Palm series of smart phones since they first came out. I was a short term iPhone convert (for 10 days) when it first came out. However, I found that the poor battery performance, lack of copy cut paste, and no global search made me inefficient in my work so I returned the iPhone within 10 days.

    I now have the PRE and definitely do appreciate its size and functionality. However, the terrible battery life and the fact that it is so hot to the touch are causing me much angst.

    I hope that Palm will do something to improve the battery life. I also hope that the phone will not instantly catch on fire as some laptop batteries have been known to do in the near past. To conserve the battery I have turned off the WIFI and Bluetooth and am no longer receiving E-mail "as items arrive." However, receiving E-mails as the are sent is one of the reasons I have a smart phone. Now I have to either wait my 10 minutes or manually retrieve them. Another issue is the poor signal strength of the PRE. I had been using my Treo 755P for the past several months and it worked great in all respects. However, this PRE doesn't allow me to use it in all of the usual places because the signal is either too low or non-existent.

    I look forward to many PRE users contacting Palm and using posting and message boards to convince Palm engineers to fix the battery issues as soon as possible. Either a longer lasting battery replacement or software that will increase battery life is what I'm looking for.
    winercr@...
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    I've had none of the bad experiences you have had, but I do carry a spare battery! Overall I'm liking it. Looking forward to more apps. Remember Palm was the apps leader back in the PalmOS vs. Windows Mobile days.
    jayjurick
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    Battery doesn't last that long with light usage running web programs. Battery heats up more than normal when talking on phone 1 hour or more.
    (Hmmm Motarola Q).
    Slide is sometimes hard for me to open and is sharp on edge and has alittle ((wiggle)) when open only.
    Keyboard is very cramped to use for most males with large thums.
    Other than that --Love-- the phone fun to play with easy to use.
    ejpacion@...
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    Hello,
    I just discovered there will be a Seidio Innocell 1350 Extended Battery for Palm Pre. It is not ready to purchase, but can be pre-ordered. It does not say how long it will last. See the following link:

    http://www.preaccessories.com/seidio-innocell-1350-extended-battery/8A37A5644.htm

    Has anyone heard about this new extended battery or when it will be available?
    ajbellis
  • RE: Like the G1, the battery seems to be the Palm Pre's Achilles heel

    Coming from the HTC Diamond, the Pre's battery life was no shocker to me. After making a few adjustments, the battery life is pretty good. I guess that Palm's update was a big help in this area as well.
    pwabbit@...