AT&T and T-Mobile customers can now get a Palm Pre without having to switch to Sprint. There are a few caveats, though, as this version of the first webOS smartphone lacks 3G and has a slightly modified keyboard.
Sprint has an agreement with Palm, Inc. to be the sole provider of the Palm Pre in the United States. However, this device is being sold unlocked in Germany, and gray-market retailers like eXpansys are bringing this webOS-based smartphone across the Atlantic.
It also allows users to pick their language: English, German, Spanish, French or Italian.
The bad news starts with the keyboard. This version of the Pre has the QWERTZ keyboard layout that is preferred in Germany. However, the only difference is that the Z and Y keys are swapped.
Worse, it doesn’t support the 3G frequencies used in the U.S., so it is limited to the 2.5G standard EDGE. However, it does have Wi-Fi, giving users very high-speed data access when near a hotspot.
And the selling price is high: $715. Still, buying it does not require signing a voice or data contract.
The device does not have any carrier branding on it.
eXpansys has already shipped its first shipment of unlocked Palm Pre units, but is expecting a second one in soon.
Those who would like to order one can do so from the eXpansys USA website.
An Overview of the Palm Pre and the webOS
The Palm Pre uses Palm’s webOS, the replacement for the venerable Palm OS. This is a new, multi-tasking operating system able to wirelessly synchronize a wide variety of data with online services like Google and Facebook, as well as Microsoft Exchange.
The Pre itself features a sliding keyboard as well as a multi-touch-capable 3.1-inch display. This device is also equipped with 8 GB of on-board storage (7 GB available to users), Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, and a 3.0 megapixel camera with LED flash.
U.S. residents who want this smartphone with mobile broadband, a QWERTY keyboard, etc. can order it from Sprint for $150 with a two-year voice and data contract. Or they can wait until next year, when Verizon will begin carrying it.