Is The Pre Poorly Built? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
6/30/2009
06:26 PM
Marin Perez
Marin Perez
Commentary
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Is The Pre Poorly Built?

There have been scattered reports that Palm's Pre smartphone is not holding up well. A few Pre users have been complaining that their screens are wobbly and can get easily cracked, the slider is poorly-designed, and the overall manufacturing is shoddy.

There have been scattered reports that Palm's Pre smartphone is not holding up well. A few Pre users have been complaining that their screens are wobbly and can get easily cracked, the slider is poorly-designed, and the overall manufacturing is shoddy.I can't personally attest to these problems, as the Pre phones I've played with felt okay (even if the lip was a bit sharp). Our official review wasn't that impressed with the build quality, as it said the "materials and build quality feel somewhat cheap and 'plasticky.'" The fans over at PreCentral's forums are calling the build quality "horrible," "a big old fat fail," and other things I probably shouldn't repeat. One user even uploaded a photo of his Pre and said there is an unsightly gap emerging between his screen and the body of the phone.

These complaints remind me of a similar situation I just lived through with the BlackBerry Storm. I made the Storm my primary phone because I'm a sucker for BlackBerrys, and liked the review unit I had. After a few months of relative happiness, I began to notice some problems. The SurePress screen wasn't as responsive, and it seemed to be getting more wear and tear than warranted. Then, the freaking call button fell off as I put the device in my pocket.

I was still undeterred - as I've carried some beat-up phones before - and super glued that bad boy back on and used the touch screen to initiate and answer calls. Things were humming along until I woke up one morning with a white display and the words "JVM 102 Error" mocking me from the screen. I hope and pray you never see this on your Berry because it's a pain to get rid of, and it can pretty much brick your phone.

Knowing that I pay way too much for the no-questions-asked insurance, I went into a Verizon Wireless store and they gave me a brand new Storm. I was shocked by how much better the build quality of the new one was from the one I picked up during the launch window. The touch screen was far more responsive, and the clicking mechanism of the SurePress was far less jarring. Maybe I'm just responding to having a brand new device again, but this version of the Storm seems like it will last better than the one I got in November.

I bring this up because the Pre and Storm have one major thing in common: RIM and Palm absolutely had to get the smartphones out by a certain deadline. Verizon demanded the Storm be out for the Black Friday shopping season (reportedly, of course), and Palm desperately needed to hit their first half launch window for the Pre. Unfortunately, sometimes a few things slip by the quality assurance folks in order to hit a deadline. On the bright side, it doesn't seem to be a widespread issue, and hopefully, they'll have all the kinks worked out when I pick up a Pre for Verizon next year.

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