AT&T has announced that it will begin shipping the HP Veer 4G starting May 15. The newest smartphone out of Hewlett-Packard's smartphone-savvy Palm division, it's priced at $100 with a new two-year contract and looks, at a glance, like the Palm Pre-shrunken.
According to AT&T, the short and squat Veer 4G is as wide and long as a credit card and as thick as a deck of cards. It's the smallest phone to date to run webOS platform, and the first on the AT&T network with the update to version 2.1.
"A large majority of our customers are choosing smartphones but they don't all want the same thing," Michael Woodward, vice president of AT&T's Mobile Device Portfolio, said in a statement. "HP Veer 4G gives us a highly unique and feature-rich smartphone for customers who want something a -little' different."
The Veer 4G features a 2.6-inch multi-touch display with a resolution of 320 by 400 and a slide-out QWERTY keypad. There's an 800Mhz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera with video capture and geo-tagging and, naturally then, GPS and the option for navigation services. Additional features include 8GB of internal storage, email and messaging support, compatibility with HP's induction-based Touchstone charger, easy access to the webOS App Catalog, and Stereo Bluetooth 2.1 and WiFi connectivity.
With an AT&T DataPro 4GB plan, users can turn the phone into a mobile hotspot for up to five devices.
The Veer 4G comes with Facebook and YouTube already integrated, and the Web browser-said to be "advanced," per AT&T-supports Adobe Flash. Also unlike the iPhone, it'll be immediately available in black or white.
It's compatible with HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access), the 4G flavor currently offered by AT&T and T-Mobile. AT&T confirmed to Engadget: "The Veer supports HSDPA [High-Speed Downlink Packet Access] Cat 10 and HSUPA [High-Speed Uplink Packet Access] Cat 6. For reference, this is the same for the Motorola Atrix 4G and HTC Inspire 4G, both currently available from AT&T."
There's also the matter of that OS upgrade. According to the Palm developer site, 2.1 is the biggest WebOS update to date, offering perks for both consumers and developers. One of these is said to be "stacks," a way of reducing on-screen clutter for simpler multitasking. Based on the "cards" metaphor that webOS uses to represent on-screen widgets and applications, users can drag and drop cards to make stacks, or let the OS do it for them.
Also new is Just Type, an improvement on the phone's Universal Search capability.
"Among the many Just Type enhancements is a powerful feature called Quick Actions," HP explains on its developer site. "Start an email, create a message, update your status, search your favorite websites-all without having to launch an app."
HP, wanting to join PC competitors Apple and Dell in the lucrative smartphone space, last year purchased the faltering Palm for $1.2 billion. The primary motivation for the sale, according to HP officials, was webOS, the platform developed by then Palm CEO and former Apple employee Jon Rubinstein.
After the purchase, Rubinstein was brought on board to continue overseeing smartphone production. The first smartphone the team released after the HP sale was the Palm Pre 2, which wasn't quite the new-and-improved something "other" that many people were expecting.
Defending himself and his team at a tech event in December, Rubinstein insisted, according to a report from the Associated Press, "This is just the beginning. It's not game over."
Some might argue that the only evidence to support that claim is the webOS-running HP TouchPad tablet that the company introduced in February.
Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a blog post shortly afterward, "This product has a chance to beat RIM and any individual Android tablet, but not Apple, not this year or next."