Palm vs iPhone

Andrew Norman sent me this note earlier today, and it was just too good not to share with you. He makes his case on why Palm is still a choice over the iPhone. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment and perspective? The following words are Andrew’s…

Some of the reasons for disliking the iPhone, even some of the important ones, have gone away over time, such as the abnormally high price both of the software and the service, both of which have reduced drastically (and I’ll have to give props to Apple for reducing the price of iPhone 3G to $200). However, I have a few thoughts on the iPhone, and after reading them maybe you will see why I opted to go with Palm instead.

It seems that the iPhone 3G fixes problems that the first iPhone should never have had. It should never have been on a 2G network, as other smartphones have been on 3G long enough that the iPhone should have started out that way.

Something that I think is even more important than that, however, is that it should always have had an office suite. I think I read somewhere that the iPhone 3G is going to have this feature, but this is something that should have been present from the very beginning. I honestly think that a PDA that cannot edit office documents is nearly useless except as a phone. A Walkman Slider, a non-smartphone, can play movies, music, send and receive email, and even browse the web (though the mobile version), but cannot view or edit office documents, and I think that’s the most important difference between a Walkman Slider and, say, a Palm Centro or an AT&T Tilt.

I’m not about to say that the iPhone is stupid, but I think it’s not nearly as revolutionary as Jobs seems to put on, if at all. The biggest advantage that the iPhone has over other smartphones (by far) is Safari, but after the public release of Skyfire that will disappear. After that, the only clear advantage is people who prefer the UI. 3G, GPS, mobile email, and most everything that the iPhone boasts has been on other smartphones for quite some time.

One of the more subtle disadvantages, at least in my opinion, is that the screen is not pressure sensitive. Multi-touch screens are good at times, but I don’t want to be putting my fingers all over my PDA, getting it smudgy all day. I like to be able to bring my PDA into restaurants with me and not worry about getting it dirty, and I definitely like not having to wipe the screen off all the time. I’m not the only one that sees this need, either; has developed a stylus that can be used on the iPhone for people who think the same way. With the pressure-sensitive screen, however, I can use either my fingers or my stylus, whenever I desire. There are times that I use my fingers, like if I’m just pulling it out for a second and putting it right back, and times when I decide to use the stylus, like if I’m editing a document. And call me crazy, but I’d much rather have real buttons instead of an on-screen keyboard (and I say that having tried the iPhone keyboard).

I personally decided to go with a straight PDA instead of a smartphone because I didn’t want to deal with service issues, so I decided to get a Palm T|X, and I am very happy with it because it does everything I need it to (of course, that means I get neither 2G nor 3G, but for my purposes that works fine). At the same time, I do not think it is in any way idiotic to get a smartphone, and sometimes I have seen some of the features of my friends’ smartphones and thought I would like them (especially my friend’s beta version of Skyfire, which will unfortunately not be released for Palm or non-smartphones).

Documents-To-Go may be a fairly simple office suite, lacking many of the advanced features of a PC’s full office suites, but it is incredibly useful and I think one of the most important features of the Palm. Editing office documents is, I believe, the most important feature of any PDA, even over email and webbrowsing. What’s the point of having a computer with you wherever you go if it can’t perform very basic computer tasks? The most commonly used applications on my Palm are its office suite and its pdf reader, two things that I desired more than anything to bring with me anywhere. Of the two, the first iPhone had only the second. I edit documents constantly, including .doc files and .xls files. I use .doc files for many, many reasons, including taking notes while shopping around, creating lists of movies I want to see that I add to whenever I hear of one or subtract from whatever I see one, making personal notes, or even just writing down detailed outlines for ideas I’ll have for school papers or videos that I’m making. I use .xls files to reference my bank account instead of carrying around a check register with me. I’m also looking forward to a good mobile version of Photoshop or an equivalent (though it may be out there already; I haven’t really looked yet). I’d love Adobe Premiere on a mobile device, but I also realize that that’s very unrealistic.

I hope that this is something that you enjoyed reading, and, of course, I hope that it did not offend you as an iPhone user, especially since I do not think the iPhone is stupid.

39 thoughts on “Palm vs iPhone”

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  3. While I agree with Andrew’s point about the I-Phone, I think that going to a Palm is a step down. He makes points about the I-Phone missing features the first time around such as 3g and then says that his recourse is a Palm that doesn’t even do 2.5g. I would completely understand his post if he substituted the Blackberry Bold (upcoming) or a 3g Windows Mobile device.

    The other important factor I believe Andrew is missing is that he is NOT the target audience if document editing is his main priority. The general consumer who doesn’t use his/her phone for business will very easily find either I-Phone to be an amazing, even revolutionary product.

  4. For me, the Treo is the sole choice. Two problems prevented me from getting an iPhone – First, what I do with my Treo is non-browser-based server administration and I wasn’t sure if the iPhone could do it. Second, I refused to be tied to AT&T’s network. Where I live, it simply is a bad option to the point of not being an option at all.

    I have to agree – the iPhone isn’t nearly all that Jobs has it cracked up to be. Sure, it’s beautiful, but it’s an Apple product and we’d expect that. Certainly, it does everything that 99% of its intended audience would want. But the end result for me is that I’m a 1%’er. Maybe as time goes on and more 3rd party apps become a viable option, then the iPhone will too.

  5. ROFL, that guy doesn’t make a point, totally dumb argument, he is seeing the iPhone in another way… I don’t know if I expressed that correctly.

    I don’t really have something concrete to say, but while I was reading I was like.. “that’s stupid…that’s stupid, that’s also stupid..”

    You shouldn’t had bother posting this chris, it’s totally dumb.

  6. I use my iPhone and enjoy it over-all.

    I used to use Palm Tungsten E2 and for many purposes, like the ones mentioned, I can totally see how someone would switch back to Pam. Yes, the Palm OS is not nearly as slick or modern as OS X, but it works great.

    Another way the Palm kick the iPhone’s butt: Speed. I mean internal speed (as opposed to wireless network speeds), the perceived ‘peppy-ness’ of the machine. Place any model palm next to the iPhone. Wake both machines at the same time and try to make a calendar entry. You’ll almost be finished w/ the Palm before iCal is responding to input gestures.

  7. It’s funny to me that the two guys I work with were huge Palm fans and had Treos for a couple of years. When I upgraded from a flip phone to a smartphone, I choose a Blackberry. Both of them insinuated, if not outright stated, they thought I made a bad choice. One of the two used Documents to Go to edit Word files on his Treo. (I thought that was insane, since he’s older than I am and has worse eyesight. But hey, it blew his skirt up, so he was happy, right?) But I had used the Palm OS before and wanted something different. I liked that the Blackberry had a full keyboard and was NOT Palm OS — I was intending to use it for e-mail and SMS. Within just a few months, both had dropped their Treos for Blackberries. Who uses Palm? The people who prefer it. As for me, I love my iPod (for music and some video viewing) and MacBook Pro, and want the full integration with my MacBook Pro applications (Address Book, Tasks, iCal, etc.). Yes, I’m an Apple fanboi, but I’m also a pragmatist, and I like what works. My Mac just works. I like the interface design. So as I evaluate the features and benefits of my Blackberry vs the iPhone, I see a swtich to iPhone as soon as my Sprint contract is up for renewal.

  8. I agree with his article 100% There is nothing wrong at all with Palm. But there will always be those who will pay the big money for a brand name like “apple”.

  9. I’ve owned both the Treo & the iPhone and I can tell you the iPhone wins hands down. Smudging is not a good reason to avoid the iPhone. You wipe it clear, that’s it. The trade off is graphics that blow Palm away and a screen that is 2.5x the size.

    The other thing I think you are missing is that this is a computer. The Palm isn’t. Documents to Go was nice but who is storing documents natively on a machine and syncing? Maybe alot now but over the next three years most docs will be accessed through your browser. What browser is Palm using? Ugh.

  10. Well, I see his point. Especially the office suite one, which is pretty much his only true point. But there are actually text editing apps you can get right now if you jailbreak your iPod/iPhone and when the App Store comes there will no doubt be more. So I am pretty sure that is why there isn’t a “stock” office suite on it. However, if you want to get technical, you can take notes and all that with the notes application. But that isn’t a true office suite. As for a lot of your other complaints, with third party apps you can do pretty much anything. On my iPod Touch I can do almost anything I want and found tons of things I never even dreamed of doing.

    About the screen, although it does smudge, get a screen protector. That really reduces smudging and if you clean it like once a week or so you are fine. And the keyboard, imo, is amazing. Especially in wide screen, it is very natural to type.

    Like I said before, pretty much everything can already be done with third party apps. Most of the files you wanna use can be used with those apps and then some. You really gotta explore the whole thing before you attempt to bash it.

    And in agreement with the other posts, Palm really is a step down. And doc editing should not be the make or break in buy a phone. I have never had a reason to edit anything on the go. If you really need that, a laptop would be a better idea.

  11. While I liked many features of the palm and miss them very much, playing music on the palm as an mp3 player just drove me nuts. I listen to podcasts a lot and with it in my pocket, even with it set to go dead in a short amount of time, it would feel pressure on the screen as it was playing, or a button would get pressed and goodbye podcast. It doesn’t remember where you left off and you are then trying to find where you were,
    I had a Sony that ran palm and it had a lock button. If I still had it, I would keep it. It also came with a screen cover that made it look like a little booklet. The case I got for my TX does not allow the headphone jack through it. The Media player was really the only problem I had with the Palm. Now I have a Jailbroken (not unlocked) iPhone I brought up to Canada.
    I’d have got the iPod touch if it had an alarm feature. Wtih no buzzer or speaker, it would not fill the bill.
    I ended up copying all my notes over to Contacts with last names of # or * for work and home, so that they would sync. I’m looking forward to 2.0 and its editing of office and iwork docs but I’ll write things in my contacts for now and just paste them over as needed to and from Address Book.
    I used the browser on the Palm (it had a WiFi card) a couple of times and the difference is awesome. The most pathetic experience I’ve ever had.
    What I miss most, oddly, is Week View of my schedule.

  12. Palm?!?!!
    Why not a Pocket PC (Windows Mobile)?
    Palm is over the past for me. Palm was pretty stable, but simple, there were no huge software for it. Since then i change to Windows Mobile and it became more stable and there are lots of software and so on, plus native office suite.

    I was a big fan of Palm, the reason: NO WINDOWS OS. But i end up using Windows Mobile. Right now I use Missing Sync for my Pocket PC (On my MacBook Pro) and works perfectly so on.

    Chris, give us your opinion why Palm and not WM

  13. I used a Palm for years, and have used an iPhone for the past year. For me, it’s not even close, the iPhone is WAY better.

    From someone who has used both extensively,


  14. I can see how a Palm PDA would be useful to some people, but this is very much an apples-to-oranges comparison. They’re not even the same type of device.

    I probably answer less email on my iPhone than I did on my Cingular Windows Mobile 8525, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The iPhone is a dang good phone, a dang good iPod, and a dang good mobile web browser. No, you can’t edit documents on it, but that’s not really much of a loss, because editing documents on a 3″ screen is pretty much a waste of time. I can think of very few situations where doing so isn’t just killing time (e.g. waiting in line). I’d rather just surf the web, which I can do equally well on the iPhone, and edit my documents much more efficiently on my computer when I get back to it.

  15. My wife and I both got Palm Centros from Sprint – mine black, hers pink. After rebates and whatnot, I think Sprint paid me $50 to take it.

    It does pretty everything I want. Workable web browser, calls, IM, SMS, contacts, calendar, podcasts (both sync’d and over-the-air), video from YouTube and others, games and other apps, SSH connections to my servers. Oh yeah, and a z-code interpreter so I can play Zork and infocom games.

    Not the prettiest, but it’s got a lot of software behind it and the price was right.

    Someday I’d probably get an iphone, but this Palm Centro is practically good enough for me for now.

  16. I choose A Palm T/X recently, bluetooth pared with a Nokia 6300 I have more features than a first generation iPhone, and more apps. should I need a 3G connection I just have to upgrade the phone. Cell phone protocols change too frequently, to have it locked into my PDA.

  17. Frankly, BLackberry has worked in the past for me, everything about it has been great, I think as time goes on Palm seems to fall farther behind Blackberry and Iphone, I say Iphone, it looks great, seems to hae much more updates that are more noticable for me. Iphone is just the hands down winner.

  18. I think the iphone is great for what it is. It has been explained numerous times why 3G was left off, and that was for the sake of the battery, which I would much rather have that extra 2 hours of power over the 3G network. Business “solution” phones lack one major thing and that is battery life, Apple is a pretty strong believer in having enough battery life to do the tasks that need to be done.

    Editting Word documents is not a function for a mobile device in my opinion, if you are in the need to edit documents, you must be fairly important and surely would have been provided a laptop or would have already bought one by now. As far as viewing a document to give approval over it, the iphone can do it. Leave the document editting to the laptops.

    Apple avoided the pressure touch screen to avoid having to replace every iphone’s screen within 6 months. Heat sensitive touch screens are the way to go with mobile devices due to the abuse they take. Not to mention a stylus is the worst thing you can touch a screen with, it scratches and abuses the screen. Keep your ugly useless stylus away from my beautiful iphone touch screen.

    Blackberry and Palm’s user interface is just bulky and cumbersome, nothing like the iphone which is smooth as silk and easy to use. Not to mention you don’t have to spin and uncomfortable ball in the middle of your phone, or put your thumb into positions that should be in a karma sutra book to scroll the side wheel on a phone.

    Is the iphone revolutionary? No, it’s just a vast improvement over the devices that existed at the current time of it’s introduction. Look around now and tell me phones haven’t improved leaps and bounds over what they were before the iphone was introduced.

    Apple set a new standard in quality when they introduced the iphone.

    1. What a fanboi! Almost everything is wrong. The iPhone is a capacitive touch screen. Not heat sensitive touch. A well designed stylus will not scratch a screen unless the screen has dust on it. I kept my Palm clean and never scratched it. I can press 1 button, unlock my Palm, use graffiti to write on the calendar and the without saving exit or turn off my Palm and IT SAVES THE DATE ENTRY. can’t do that with an iphoney. It takes at least 13 actions to save the same information on the iphoney.
      The battery saving 2g iphoney? Hah! My Palm’s battery lasted 2 days or longer on a charge with constant use on 3g.

      That is not revolutionary. That is not even an improvement over a 10 year old Palm Treo.

  19. i personally like palms better.

    sure the iphone has more of a polished OS, but palms have convience such as Hotsync (which has already saved me once or twice!!!!), they can use expansion cards (micro-sd, or sd), and there are more apps for them.

    but if the iphone could catch up on those things, it would definately pwn it’s way to the top.

  20. When was the last time people were so excited about a phone. It does email beautifully, voice mail is perfect, people are designing applications that are actually interesting to use, the calendar application is the best out of all of the platforms. There are a few small imperfections but Steve Jobs and the Apple team have really blown away the competition. All of the new cell phones are basically in a race to catch up with the iphone.

    1. What a fanboi. Iphoney cal is best? What a crock. Palm had a better cal 10+ years ago. Click the cal button, unlock, enter appointment, turn it off. On the iphoney the same thing takes 13 separate actions.

  21. Iphone over Palm!

    If one wishes an office suite ON there phone …. then I think he/she not of this age.
    Office suites these days come over the web like Google Apps.

    I didnt bother reading more so .. I phone.

  22. Palm Os is still good. It still does what I need to do.

    People that snaps up every year with a new o.s. and a new device, when there are old devices than still performs better, are just silly squanderers.

    Big computer companies express their gratitude to stupid and wealthy consumers.

  23. I switched to an iPhone from Palm TX recently. There is functionality that is missing in the iPhone. While I am eagerly awaiting Documents to Go, I would prefer to have an integrated task list with iCal. The other feature I want is Pocket Quicken. So I can definitely see the preference for Palm for some users.
    Even without those programs, the iPhone 3G was alluring enough to finally upgrade from my 10 year old phone with the broken screen. The mail and phone integrated with my personal contacts was great. I also like browsing the web to lookup info on the fly. I have been having fun with apps, PhoneSaber rocks! I realize that other phones have had these features, but I am all about simplicity of the user interface. To say that the UI is better almost as an afterthought misses the whole point. The simplicity and ease of use are the main reason that I finally switched. I work with a lot of early adopters across platforms so have seen multiple phones in action. The ease of use for the iPhone was so far beyond that it cannot be overstated. A simple list of features and programs fails to capture that main advantage. So while many phones may be able to claim superiority on specific functions, they have not enticed me to want to use them. I typed this on my iPhone, by the way.

  24. Here’s a list of PDA’s I’ve owned prior to the iPhone…

    Palm m100, Palm V, HP Jornada 728, Hp Jornada 720, NEC Mobilepro 900c, HP Jornada 520, Sony Clié NR-70, Sony Clié UX-50, Palm TX, Dell Axim X50, Compaq iPaq 3900, HP iPaq 1900, Palm Lifedrive and an ATT smart phone.

    Of all these devices, my iPhone DESTROYS them all! The part about not having a stylus in this article…it’s the best part about the iPhone!!! Which would you rather, wipeable finger prints or permanant scratches from a stylus? Easy answer. Yes, there are screen protecteds, but they are bubbly and awkward to apply and then your screen doesn’t look anywhere as nice as it could. I don’t own a case for my ipione or use a screen protector…I just put it in my pocket! It’s more durable than the list above. The screen is made of the same glass as scratch resistant glasses! It comes with more memory than all of the previous list combined! No contest! Not to mention how irritating it was to install programs on the list above. Palm was definately easier than Windows Mobile, but iPhone takes that to another level. Never easier! Just hit one button in the app store and it’s installed. No havng to “jerry-rig” it to work. It just works! iPhone takes the cake!

    By the way, I wrote this on my iPhone!!!

  25. I use my Palm PDA every day and it has never, lost a single file or crashed. My wonderful iMac, you know, the one that’s supposed to be so stable? It crashes once or twice a week. The iMac usually crashes when I’m doing something really complicated, like typing in a word processor. I need this on my telephone why? I plan to replace my portable phone with a Palm based smart phone because I want something that actually works.

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