Palm introduces iPhone competitor Pre

Palm today introduced its latest handset, named the Pre. Featuring a 3.1-inch, 480×320 touchscreen, a dedicated gesture area below the display, a vertical slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and more, the device is aimed at the same market as the iPhone. Other technical features include high-speed wireless (EV-DO Rev. A or HSDPA, depending on the model and carrier), GPS, Wi-Fi, a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB connector, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP, 8GB of internal storage, an accelerometer, ambient light and proximity sensors, a removable rechargeable battery, and an optional wireless charger. Pre is exclusive at launch to Sprint.

The device runs Palm’s new WebKit-based operating system, webOS. Designed for next-generation, touch-friendly devices, it offers many iPhone OS-like features, such as a full web browser, Exchange email support in addition to POP and IMAP, IM, MMS, and SMS messaging, and Palm Synergy, a new feature that aims to consolidate information like calendars, chats, and contacts from various sources in one place. Slated for release in the first half of 2009, no price has yet been set for the Pre. Initial impressions suggest that the phone is a large step forward for the company, which hired former Apple senior vice president Jon Rubenstein to develop its next-generation software and hardware in October 2007. Former Apple employees have reportedly joined Palm in significant numbers to aid Rubinstein in Pre’s development.