Head to head: iPhone 3GS vs Palm Pre

The latest in our head-to-head review series sees how the iPhone matches up to the latest so-called iPhone killer, the Palm Pre.

Both displays are crisp and offer great clarity, despite the obvious greasy finger issues that plague all touch screen handsets these days. Mark-for-mark, the iPhone doesn't suffer as much from irksome smudges as the Pre.

Icons on both the Pre and the iPhone are vibrant and easy to navigate, with both screens being very responsive to users' commands.

That's where the aesthetic similarities end. The iPhone's keyboard is a virtual one, while the Pre's is neatly hidden underneath the screen and slides out smoothly whenever required.

But that's all that's smooth about it. The keys are fairly small and hard, akin to an 80s calculator watch and using it feels a little bit too alien and awkward. That said, the keys are well spaced and you can get up quite a bit of speed with some practice, not unlike the iPhone's virtual QWERTY, which has the same training levels as a pre-requisite if you want to type emails and texts quickly.

The Pre's volume rocker is also less pretty than the iPhone's, with black plastic offered up rather than a brushed chrome effect. Sometimes it's these little touches that can add that deal-breaking level of finesse to a handset, particularly if you're a style conscious business user.

While users can easily charge their iPhone via their USB port or in the traditional way, the Pre features a fiddly little USB port that is hidden beneath a nubbin' on the side. At first it feels like you're breaking the phone by trying to open it but you're not. Our review unit also came with a Palm Touchstone Charging Dock that makes it easy to charge the handset wirelessly.

Winner: iPhone. We really wanted the Pre to win this because Palm has worked hard to design a handset that both business users and consumers alike will lust after, but the iPhone still gets it by a nose. Apple is synonymous with attractive products and, despite its best efforts, Palm still has a little way to go to beat it.

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