AT&T HP Pre3 review
With the demise of WebOS about a month or two ago, HP still had a phone up it’s sleeve, the Pre3. Since HP bought Palm back in 2010, we had hoped that a big name would actually revive WebOS and make it a contender in the smartphone OS market. Little did we know that HP would sink WebOS so fast, we didn’t know what hit us. After HP shut down all WebOS hardware, all the major cell phone carriers in the US cancelled their orders for the Pre3, and it never officially saw the light of day. However, eBay started trickling out AT&T models little by little, only at a cost of $600+. Flash forward to a few weeks later, and I was able to get one for $250. Being an avid Mac/iPhone user, I was eagerly waiting to see how WebOS would play on much better hardware (compared to the older Pres, and the crappy Pixi/Veer). So is the phone that never made it to retail a worthy device? The answer is an astounding yes.
If you’ve never used WebOS before, and you enjoy pretty things, then you’re in for a treat. WebOS just oozes sex appeal. That’s not to say that iOS or Android don’t look good, but WebOS is just sexy plain and simple. Since this is the AT&T model, it comes with the 3G bands that AT&T support (850Mhz and 1900Mhz), and it also supports 14.4Mbps HSPA+. Everything else about the Pre3 is exactly the same. It sports a 1.4Ghz single-core CPU (would have loved a dual-core, but beggars can’t be choosers), 512MB of RAM (wished it would have a GB, but oh well), 3.6″ WVGA (800×400) screen, hardware keyboard which is pretty nice to use and a MicroUSB charger on the side. So the hardware seems to be pretty great, but how does the OS run? If you’ve ever used the Touchpad before, you may be turned off a little bit by the performance of the OS. I am very pleased to say that the performance of the OS is superb. Nothing ever lags, scrolling is perfect, and I can easily zip along between cards.
If I do have anything to complain about with WebOS, is the browser. Having used iOS since 2007, I’m used to the amazing Safari browser. The browser on WebOS just isn’t up to snuff, and that’s fine. It works just fine in pinches, but I honestly wouldn’t use it for extended web browsing. This is why I have a tablet if I want to do some web browsing. Speaking of the web browser, HP thought it was a good idea *not* to include an orientation lock in the OS. Why is this an issue? Well, how often have you been laying in bed, browsing on your phone? On the Pre3, if you do that, it’ll switch to landscape mode. Landscape more on a device with a hardware keyboard is not a good idea. Hopefully HP (or the homebrew developers) fix this in a patch or an update soon, as it’s next to impossible to browse in bed. Aside from that, are there any other things that annoy me? If you’re *really* big on apps, you’re going to be disappointed with the “App Catalog”. It simply just doesn’t have the apps available. Sure there’s Facebook and a few nice Twitter apps, but games or really big name apps just simply aren’t there. So if apps are your thing, and you don’t want to just use the web browser to access the web versions, WebOS simply just isn’t for you. Me? I’m not 100% big on apps, but there are a few that I wish were available, but I know they’ll never hit. Again, this is also why I have a tablet (iPad 2), so I’m not completely missing out. Are there any apps that I *must* use all the time? No. And during the time I’ve used the phone, I haven’t found myself missing very much.
Call quality on AT&T’s network has been outstanding (surprisingly enough). With the iPhone 4 that I have, it’s pretty good, but not great. With the Pre3, it’s actually really damn good. I had a few hour long conversations and never seemed to have any issues with the audio quality. Speaking of the network, since this phones supports 14.4Mbps HSPA+ (the iPhone 4 only supports 7.2Mbps), I was extremely excited to finally test this out. AT&T likes to call HSPA+ “4G”, even though we know it’s nowhere close to LTE 4G, so we’ll just call it “fauxG” instead. Using the iPhone 4, I can get an average of around 3.2Mbps, with a maximum of around 5.45Mbps. Using the Pre3 (and speedtest.net, since they don’t have a dedicated app), I got an average of 6.7Mbps, with a maximum of around 8.75Mbps. Far, far from LTE speeds, but a nice bump from the regular iPhone speeds. In real world, I’ll never honestly use these speeds (since downloading apps isn’t going to take that much time), and with a 2GB maximum for the month, who really needs these speeds. Ironically enough, since I was using my iPhone SIM in the phone, AT&T caught wind of me using a 3G SIM in a “fauxG” phone, and sent me a text saying I needed a “4G plan”. Because of this, I contacted them about it, and they said they weren’t going to change my plan, and it was simply a warning. They said I needed a 4G plan because I’d get faster speeds and “more coverage”. I don’t see how a 4G plan would give me better coverage, but oh well. Being on an unlimited plan, I wasn’t about to give that up, and just said I was using the phone to write up a review of the phone. Luckily, they let me keep the same plan and said I was fine.
For someone who hasn’t used iOS, or Android before, WebOS would be a fantastic OS to use. But if you’re someone who has used them, there’s a lot to be desired in it’s current state. Hopefully HP either sells WebOS to Amazon, or they actually decide to pick it up again, but as it is, I can’t justify using it over iOS or even Android. If you’ve read my posts before, you know how much I hate Windows Phone, so I can easily, easily recommend WebOS over Windows Phone every day of the week. Don’t get me wrong, WebOS is sexy and hell, the hardware is there, but with the lack of development happening on the main OS, there really isn’t much left life in these devices. Given that the Galaxy S II and the iPhone 5 (4S???) is just around the corner, it’s honestly too little too late for a phone that could have been amazing. Overall, I love it, but I just can’t recommend it to someone who’s never used WebOS before and want to use it as a main phone. Second phone? Sure.