Palm Pixi review

With the Palm Pixi now on sale in the US, Macworld UK's US-based sister site PC World has taken a look at Palm's lighter smartphone, the Palm Pixi. It's smaller, and slightly cheaper than the Pre, but can it stand up to the iPhone?

Palm’s latest WebOS smartphone, the sprightly Palm Pixi, is a slimmed-down version of the Palm Pre in both specs and design. The Pixi lacks Wi-Fi, it has a smaller screen with a lower resolution, and its camera is only a 2-megapixel version. Luckily, the Pixi retains a lot of what we love about the Pre, particularly the features in WebOS. Unfortunately, in our tests the Pixi was sluggish in certain instances, and Palm’s signature keyboard design desperately needs rethinking.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Pixi is how light it is. In fact, when I first picked it up, I had to check whether it had the battery installed. Weighing a scant 3.3 ounces, the Pixi feels really nice in the hand thanks to its rubberized back and slim body. It’s also super-pocketable, measuring 2.2 by 4.4 by 0.4 inches.

Keyboard aside, the Pixi is fairly minimalist when it comes to hardware buttons. At the top of the phone sits the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as the power button. The left spine houses the ringer switch (to turn notification and ringer sounds on or off), the volume rocker, and the mini-USB port, while the right edge is bare.

Rather than a single hardware button to close apps, the handset offers a touch area with a light-up bar; you simply tap it to close an app. If you’re used to the Pre, at first you might be a little thrown off by the lack of a button, but you’ll get used to it quickly. The Pixi supports the same gestures for scrolling, paging, going back (a backward swipe), and pinch and zoom as the Pre does.

Although it is narrower, the Pixi’s keyboard is easier to use than the Pre’s. Yes, it feels a bit cramped, but it doesn’t have the flimsy, unstable feel of the Pre’s slide-out keyboard. It also doesn’t have the same sharp, cheese-slicing edges as the Pre does. While the spacebar is small, it’s centrally placed, and the keys are nicely backlit.

Next: Using the keyboard

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