AT&T Palm Pixi Plus Review | webOS Nation
 
 

AT&T Palm Pixi Plus Review 31

by Dieter Bohn Thu, 03 Jun 2010 11:03 am EDT

Read our original Palm Pixi Review

The Palm Pixi Plus on AT&T is Palm's best hardware to date, the tiny little phone has a size and feel that impresses. That incredibly thin and small package includes an unfortunate tradeoff, however, for most users it is simply too slow and underpowered when compared to the Palm Pre Plus.

We've had the AT&T Palm Pixi Plus here at PreCentral HQ for a couple of days now. It will be released to the masses on June 6th for $49.99 after contract and rebates. If you're familiar with webOS, you know that you're looking at here is virtually identical to the Palm Pixi Plus on Verizon and the Sprint Palm Pixi.

The difference between the Pixi and the Pixi Plus is that the Pixi Plus has WiFi, an essential addition for webOS. Unlike the Verizon Pixi Plus, the AT&T version does not include the ability to download Mobile Hotpot and use the Pixi for tethering, though AT&T's announced data plan changes give us hope that this may be an option in the future.

More impressions after the break

 Hardware

As we laid out in the opening paragraph, if you don't include the relatively underpowered processor and under-utilized graphics chip, the Pixi Plus is probably our favorite webOS device, even granting that it has a smaller screen and poorer camera than the Palm Pre.

The keyboard is, as it has always been on the Pixi, practically a revelation. Despite being about as tiny as we can realistically imagine a full QWERTY keyboard to be, it's very usable. Since the keys are very 'clicky,' we actually find it to be a better keyboard than what's available on the Palm Pre / Pre Plus.

The Pixi Plus sadly does not come with a Touchstone-compatible back cover, but you can upgrade to one or purchase a designer cover (we still haven't seen new ones since Palm released them) or a colored-back cover for the Pixi.

The camera on the Pixi Plus also takes a terminally long time to load and once it does, the photos from its 2mp sensor are sub-par. Sound from the speaker is good, but a little quieter than I'd prefer. Battery life is typical for webOS, which is to say you can get through a full day with light use.

In short, the hardware on the Pixi Plus is pretty great with a handful of tradeoffs. It feels solid, light, and basically disappears in your pocket. The physical hardware of the Pixi is, of course, not the whole story. So let's get technical.

Pixi Plus vs Pre Plus, spec breakdown:

  Processor Memory Screen Keyboard Camera Games
Pre Plus TI OMAP 3430, 600MHz + SGX530 for graphics 512mg RAM, 16g storage 320x480 Slide-out, slightly mushy 3.2mp with extended depth of field 3D gaming
Pixi Plus Qualcomm MSM7627 + Adreno 200 for graphics 256mb RAM + 8g storage 320x400 Always available, very clicky 2mp 3D gaming coming soon

As you can see from the table above and in our original post on the hardware differences between the Pre and Pixi, you're making quite a lot of compromises by going with the Pixi Plus instead of the Pre Plus. The result of those less-powerful processors and reduced RAM is a device that slows down radically when you start to load more than a handful of cards at once. The device slows to a near standstill when you have more than 8 cards loaded; in fact it became so unresponsive that I gave up trying to see how many cards it would take before I got the "Too Many Cards" error.

We do have some hope that the Pixi Plus will see some significant speed improvements later this year, when Palm is expected to release an important webOS update that will speed up the underpinnings of the OS. We also expect that 3D gaming will come to the Pixi Plus in a matter of weeks as a smaller webOS update, 1.4.5, should be arriving soon. Both the main processor and graphics processor are technically capable of punching out more speed, too, so we definitely intend on revisiting the Pixi again after these updates.

All that said, so long as you are careful to only load a few cards at once, the Pixi is usable. The Pixi is definitely targeted at first-time smartphone buyers and so long as these consumers don't overtax the Pixi's slim resources, I expect they will enjoy the device.

In terms of software, there are no significant additions here, although AT&T's YPMobile mapping software is included out of the box in addition to Google Maps. AT&T Navigator is also on-board, but requires a $9.99 a month fee to use.

Wrapping up

We're definitely ready for Palm to release some new hardware on the high end instead of the low end. Palm had success going straight for the low end with the original Centro and perhaps has done alright with the Pixi. To our minds, however, Palm (and soon HP) needs to admit that what worked then probably won't work in the future. It's been a year since Apple and AT&T dropped the price of the iPhone 3G down to $99 and the message to the market is as clear today as it was then: today's high-end smartphone is tomorrow's low-end smartphone.

We adore the Pixi's hardware so much that it's almost tragic: we want to love, use, and recommend this phone as a viable alternative to the Palm Pre Plus. Unfortunately, until Palm can improve webOS to the point where it can run efficiently on the Pixi Plus's processor, we have to recommend that most people go for the Palm Pre Plus. If getting a tiny smartphone is your first priority, by all means consider the Pixi Plus, but be ready to accept some slowdowns. Once you accept that caveat, the Pixi is a fun and inexpensive choice for first time smartphone buyers.

31 Comments

First! (Oh no it's been revived!) But no really I just wanted to say I think even my original preis better

I really love the form factor of the Pixi, but the lack of system resources makes it hard to justify switching over from my Pre. If they replicated the "clicky" keyboard over to the Pre, it would be perfect.

It's nice, but I don't see HP being great with future updates.

The Pixi is such a nice-looking phone. Too bad it's so weak for power-users.

I really want to own the Pixi, the form factor is so amazing, but the specs are just too blah.

Not much faith in HP investing much in webOS on smartphones down the road after their CEO's comments yesterday.

You really shouldn't review this smartphone by itself. Smartphones are just another connected device. For example, building a smartphone or a phone of any type is not a particularly complicated engineering feat. The more important part is the intellectual property ecosystem of IP and the services that connect to it. I think you should think of webOS being a more important component than necessarily the phone itself.

z i n g !

Coolio!! Welcome Mr. Hurd to Precentral!!

Hang out here for a while and you will see exactly what you just bought for yourselves!!

polarization just to be sarcastic is so last century

The only thing keeping me "in" on Palm was the promise of better hardware. I'm on my 4th Pre probably going to be firth soon. Recently got a Touchstone and after realizing the thing cooks my Pre I see screen blotches everywhere. If HP is slashing new phone dev Im 100% out.

Why are we reviewing a phone which is essentially the same as all other especially when the future owner of the company says that no new phones will be made.

Am I way off here?

Yes, you're way off. HP's CEO said nothing of the sort.

Just changed my Pre to a Pixi Plus and I love it. Yes its slower but it feels better to use than the Pre, so it's a trade off I'm willing to accept. Oh and the "two fish" designer back cover loks awesome.

I have a Verizon Pre+ and my wife has the Pixi+. I love my Pre+, but the Pixi+ has better build quality and the keyboard is awesome. The screen is smaller, but very easy to view and read on. I've actually found my wife's Pixi+ loads web pages faster than my Pre+, even after a reset.

I've used my wife's Pixi+ on occasion and it is a great smartphone. It isn't really that slow at all and I've have multiple cards open at once on it. She loves the phone and actually doesn't like my Pre+ because of the keyboard.

It is a great form factor and works great. I've recommended it to some people and they love it.

Hopefully HP/Palm does release new smartphones. They should do three form factors. Slider like Pre, fixed keyboard like Pixi, and one with only a virtual keyboard. webOS is too great to die.

Seconded - the Pixi Plus is awsome, and it's much better than most people here seem to think.

Wow, mark the date. 6.03.10: the last review of "new" palm (or palm/hp) smartphone hardware.

On the brightside, looking forward to updates from hptoastercentral.net

So this is the same price as the Pre Plus w/o the Touchstone out the door. When will AT&T learn to stop messing up the pricing structure?

It's $100 cheaper than their Pre Plus.

Thanks. I got my plus for $50 with their long term customer discount. Which should mean I could get this for free basically with the signing of a two year agreement. However, I am a happy Plus user.

Doors open at Sprint stores tomorrow at 8am!

I've hated sliders since the Palm Tungsten T.

I use a Palm PRE because the Pixi is too slow and the screen JUST is too small.

Why should the LOW END devices necessarily be the candy bars?

Please give me WebOS on a BIG, fast Pixi. The elegant slide-to-unlock makes the slider function redundant to preventing accidental use.

-Karl

this DOES NOT quality as a new phone. I'm just saying.

qualify

just thinking, I woner if Hurd's reference to "phone hardware is easy to make" is a homage to Jobs' comment back when he announced the i-phone.

just thinking, I woner if Hurd's reference to "phone hardware is easy to make" is a homage to Jobs' comment back when he announced the i-phone.

Well if they found a way to "update" next gen Pixi to include the same screen and processor and memory of the current Pre Plus then you would have a definite winner.

I do love the Pixi form factor.

the form factor is nice. the reality is, there's a lot of phones out there that can't even keep up with the pixi. there's phones out there that still can not even multitask.

I love the form factor of the Pixi, I use a Nexus One though because I'm a high end smart phone guy. If they can pump out a little bigger more powerful pixi I'd buy one. I absolutely loved my Treo 800w back in the day and I hated my HTC Touch Pro even though the hardware was better.

Uuuuh, i was pretty sure that the Pixi Plus has 512Mb RAM as well - and that, for a fact, it's not slow. It's actually pretty snappy.
The Pixi Plus is way better than most people think - only because the first Pixi was not so good.

i love my my att palm pre + so nice but iphone is coming so bye bye iphone again

My phones to date have been the Samsung Blackjack, Sony Ericsson w580i, HTC Tytn II (EU version of the AT&T Tilt), and now... the Palm Pixi Plus.
(fyi, I work for a multi-billion dollar mobile vendor and get to work with tons of phones from all carriers)

The hardware is awesome although I would have liked a better camera. That's about my only complaint about the phone. The keyboard rocks and can be used by either hand and just as easily with both. The visual task manager, multiple account integration, and the 'just type to search EVERYTHING' feature puts it WAY above the competitors for me. Yea, the app store doesn't stack with the big "Apple" and hardware isn't as "Incredible" as some, but it's SUCH a usable phone that has exponential possibilities. I was really excited to see HTC looking at buying them, but a look at the books scared them away. =( HP better keep this one alive and hope they see a future the future WebOS. Here's hoping...

The design is great. Small, but a powerful and incredible device. Like it very much. - YOR Health