The Palm Pre 2 smartphone isn't distributed in Australia, but its webOS operating system will soon make its way into the HP Pre 3 and HP Veer smartphones thanks to HP's acquisition of Palm last year. The Palm Pre 2 has dated hardware compared to its rivals, but webOS' handling of multitasking and notifications as well as its elegant interface are very appealing.
The Palm Pre 2 is best described as a slight enhancement of the Palm Pre Plus. It features the same body that looks like a large pebble and slides up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. However, the glossy black plastic of the Pre Plus has been dumped for a better feeling rubber-style finish, while the Pre 2 display is flatter, providing a more ergonomic feel. Also gone is the cheap feeling micro-USB port cover. Build quality is improved when compared to its predecessor, but the Palm Pre 2's hardware remains inferior to the likes of the iPhone 4 and the HTC Desire.
The Palm Pre 2 uses 'Gorilla Glass' which Palm claims make it less prone to scratches and marks. The 3.1in display is clear and vibrant, but lags well behind the competition and can't produce the same crisp text or vivid colour. The smaller display also dampens the mobile Web experience, even if webOS generally handles most other tasks well.
The Palm Pre 2 Pre is relatively easy to type on once your fingers get used to the keyboard layout — those with larger fingers will find it a bit cramped, and the raised edges surrounding the keyboard can dig into your fingers while typing. The Palm Pre 2 also gets an upgraded 5-megapixel camera compared to its predecessor's 3Mp snapper, and a 1GHz processor compared to the Pre Plus' 500MHz CPU.
In addition to slightly upgraded hardware, the Palm Pre 2 also has the latest version of webOS. It adds to the already superb multitasking and notifications system by introducing 'stacks', enhancing the card system by allowing multiple cards per application. The latest version of webOS also uses a comprehensive universal search tool called 'just type', a new launcher, enhanced text editing and spelling correction, support for Flash Web browsing and is claimed to offer a faster start-up time.
The Palm Pre 2 retains the Pre Plus' excellent "gesture area" which is much more effective than tapping back on the top left corner of the screen or pressing the home button, as you would on an iPhone. It also handles notifications with ease, and its Web browser is excellent at handling tabs; these are launched as separate cards and can be closed and switched just as you would any application.
The Palm Pre 2 and webOS are not perfect; you can't customise notification tones, text correction remains inferior to competitors, the e-mail app offers limited functionality and general performance (particularly opening applications) is sluggish. Despite these issues, the Palm Pre 2's handling of multitasking and notifications, as well as its elegant interface, are very appealing features.
The Palm Pre 2 is not officially sold in Australia, but a model that will work on Telstra's Next G network can be purchased through online retailer MobiCity.