This is the C40: the Sprint Palm Pre 2 that never was
By now we all know it's possible, in fact not entirely impractical, to hack a Palm Pre 2 onto Sprint, so long as you're willing to go all MacGyver with a warranty-voiding screwdriver. But it's just not 'right' - there's no Sprint integration, outside of being able to make phone calls, in our use it wasn't exactly the most stable long-term experience. That's what you get with hacked software and hardware, and we expected that. But what if you could have a real, legitimate Sprint Palm Pre 2?
Well, we (as in the world) almost did. What you see above is a Sprint Palm Pre 2, as assembled by Palm themselves. It was the daily driver of a Palm employee for a year, and now we've got it in our hands. Close inspection reveals that this is a Palm-built FrankenPre 2, with the warranty sticker breached and "P100EWW" (Sprint Palm Pre) as the model number under the battery. But something funny happens when you activate it with Sprint. For one, it activates, despite being a second-hand device (something that FrankenPre devices cannot manage). More importantly, interestingly, and revealingly, Sprint recognizes the phone as a "PALM C40".
Yes, people, we finally know what the C40 of legend was: it was the Sprint Palm Pre. That the device was in Sprint inventory systems and their activation database is telling - Palm was clearly interested enough in getting the Pre 2 onto Sprint that they put together devices to test it out and make it happen. Where things went wrong, we can't be entirely sure, but we're hurting knowing that a Sprint Palm Pre 2 could have been a real thing had Sprint and Palm really wanted it to happen. And it could have been a real thing a long time ago - the C40 first appeared in Sprint inventory systems in August of 2009, just three months after the launch of the original Pre and before the unveiling of the Palm Pixi.
We know that cell phones take a while to develop, both hardware and software, so it's not unreasonable to think that the Pre 2 was in development and angling for a speedy Sprint debut soon after the launch its predecessor. For whatever reason, things didn't work out between Sprint and Palm, so our favorite Sunnyvale-based smartphone manufacturer turned to Verizon, a relationship that went south in a hurry, and expedited the decline of Palm.
A few notes on the Sprint Pre 2/C40. It runs webOS 2.2.4 build 145, there is not a webOS Doctor available from the webOS Account management site, though the phone is recognized as a "Palm Pre2 (SPRINT)". The model, according to Device Info, is a P102EWW (CDMA Palm Pre 2), hardware version is D1 (assuming that's a development nomenclature, as every other webOS device we have on hand lists a hardware version of A). Apart from the radio swap, hardware-wise this device appears to be a standard Palm Pre 2.
The phone includes the full suite of Sprint apps, including Sprint TV, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, and Sprint Football Live. None of them worked. There's also a Sprint Music Plus app (version 1.2.4) that ostensibly would allow for downloads of music and ringtones, all billed to your Sprint account. Sprint Music Plus also provides a "Ringback Tone Store", the first and only on a webOS device, allowing you to replace the standard classic ringing sound that callers get with music of your choice. It's not something we have a lot of experience or interest in, seeing as you have to pay Sprint $1.99 per song for the privilege, and that'll only be good an insulting six months. The app, complete with dark blue gradient background, jarring yellow text, and nonstandard pop-up menus, buttons, and loading wheel feels very much like an app built by Sprint.
The Sprint Pre 2/C40 also has a quartet of wallpapers we can't recall seeing on any other webOS device. They're very nature-y, just like we would have expected out of Palm, and they're all included below (in their expected 320x480 resolution, sorry).
The TouchPad Go was a look into the future that webOS could have had under HP had the rug not been pulled out from under them. The Sprint Palm Pre 2/C40 is a look further back, when the relationship between Palm and Sprint was rosy and things were looking good for the reinvigorated Palm. We can't say for sure whether or not a a Pre 2 on Sprint would have been successful, but that it even existed is a painful reminder of what we as a community missed out on thanks to the infamous fickleness of carriers.