The Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus will arrive on the AT&T network in “the coming months,” Palm announced March 22. AT&T also said that it will soon be selling Dell’s Android-based Aero, the computer maker’s first smartphone available in the United States.
The move with Palm makes AT&T the latest carrier to offer a boost to the ailing device maker, which on March 18 announced an even worse-than-expected fiscal 2010 third quarter, in which it sold only 408,000 smartphones.
Both tech critics and analysts have praised the Palm Pre and the Palm webOS platform, leaving the blame for the device’s flat sales on a mixture of bad decisions-including the Pre’s initial launch on the also-struggling Sprint network-and a few strokes of bad luck, which included sharing a debut week with the Apple iPhone 3GS.
“The work we’re doing to improve sales is having an impact, we’re making great progress on future products and we’re looking forward to upcoming launches with new carrier partners,” Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein said in a March 18 statement.
Verizon Wireless is also counted among Palm’s new carrier partners, and the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus arrived on that network during the last weekend of January, with the Pre Plus priced at $149.99 and the Pixi Plus at $99.99, each after a $100 mail-in rebate and with a new two-year service contract.
AT&T, however, will be offering the Pixi Plus for $49.99-with contract and rebate details, as well as the Palm Pre pricing, still mirroring the Verizon offer.
“We’re offering our customers even greater choice by adding Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus to the nation’s best smartphone portfolio,” Jeff Bradley, AT&T senior vice president of devices, said in a statement. “Palm webOS [includes] access to the nation’s largest WiFi network, and the ability to talk and surf the Web at the same time is a powerful combination.”
Both devices additionally feature Palm Synergy, which cobbles together data and contact information from multiple sources, such as Outlook, Facebook and LinkedIn. There are also universal search capabilities and an over-the-air software update model that delivers new features and improvements to the user’s device as soon as they become available.
Both the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus will have access to AT&T’s 3G network, as well as its 24,000-plus WiFi hot spots, and of course to the Palm App Catalog, which is now 2,000-plus applications strong.
The Pre Plus features a slide-out QWERTY keypad and a 3.1-inch multitouch screen with a 320-by-480-resolution HVGA display. Support for Microsoft Exchange e-mail, Direct Push technology and POP3/IMAP e-mail accounts is included, along with GPS, IM, MSM and MSS capabilities, a 3-megapixel camera with video and geo-tagging, a media player, and 16GB of memory.
Also included is a back cover for the Palm Touchstone charger, which is sold separately.
The candy bar-style Pre Plus, Palm’s thinnest phone to the date, also features a dedicated keypad, as well as a 2.63-inch multitouch screen with a 320-by-400 sub-HVGA display. The same e-mail and messaging features as the Pre Plus are included, as is GPS, but the camera on the Pixi has been dropped to 2 megapixels and the memory is 8GB.
The Pixi Plus will be available in black and, exclusive to AT&T, blue, with the option of an Artists Series of back covers designed for the Touchstone charger.
Both phones feature removable, rechargeable batteries, and on the AT&T network, the Pre Plus delivers 5 hours of talk time, while the Pixi Plus gets up to 5.5.
“AT&T and Palm have a history of smartphone leadership, and today’s announcement is a significant milestone for us,” Palm’s Rubinstein said in a March 22 statement. “With Palm webOS phones coming to AT&T, Palm can help most anyone in the United States stay connected so they never miss a thing.”
Should luck prevail, the phones will also help Palm connect with increased revenues in the fourth quarter.
The AT&T deal gives Dell a partnership with the number-two wireless provider in the United States. Dell introduced the Mini 3 last year, but was only available in China and Brazil. The Aero is powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system and includes a custom interface.