The Palm Pixi officially arrived on Sprint’s 3G network on Nov. 15. A thinner, “lighter” sibling to the Palm Pre (Samsung also just released a junior sibling to a more robust predecessor) it’s priced at $99.99, after a $100 rebate and with a new two-year contract. However, some online retailers, including Amazon, are currently offering the Pixie for $50 or less.
The Pre was the first smartphone to try and take on the iPhone with both a large touch-screen and slide-out qwerty keyboard, and the Pixi, likewise, combines a physical keyboard with a touchscreen, though there’s no sliding here – the keyboard is on the front of the more slab-style smartphone, and the 2.63-inch touch-screen is directly above it.
The Pixi measures 4.37 by 2.1 by 0.43 inches and weighs 3.26 ounces, to the Pre’s slightly beefier 4 by 2.3 by 0.67 inches and 4.8 ounces.
“The Palm Pixi is really all about the form factor and price. It’s tiny and cute and affordable,” Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis, told eWEEK. “Palm is clearly going after the Centro demographic – messaging-oriented consumers upgrading from feature phones.”
Also like the Pre, the Pixi runs Palm’s webOS platform, and can run several applications at once. There’s a full HTML browser, and so access to Google and Google Maps, as well as a quick connection to Palm’s App Catalogue – which has grown significantly since the Pre’s debut. Pixi supports personal and corporate email accounts, including Gmail, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, POP3 and IMAP, as well as IM, SMS and MMS messaging, including Google Talk, AIM and Yahoo IM.
Pixi also features Synergy, which collects related information into a single view, as well as linked contacts, which draws information from sources such as Outlook, LinkedIn and Facebook and combines them into a single entry. The calendar, too, can offer a single view of upcoming events via multiple sources.
Information on the Pixi can be automatically backed up over the air, and a remote-erase capability enables a lost or stolen device to be remotely wiped of its information.
Pixi is the first handset to launch with Qualcomm’s MSM7627 chipset. It includes 8GB of internal storage, has a USB mass storage mode and a microUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed.
There’s no WiFi connectivity here, but GPS and Bluetooth 2.1 are included, as are a removable, rechargeable 1,150 mAh battery, a multimedia player and standard headset jack, a 2-megapixel camera with video and LED flash, an accelerometer, for orienting the device between portrait and landscape modes, a light sensor, for more efficient power use, and a proximity sensor, which disables the touch screen when the Pixi is brought to the user’s ear.
The rubberized back cover is also removable, making the Pixi compatible with Palm’s Touchstone charger, which works via induction and is sold separately.
Greengart adds that the Pixi is Sprint’s entry into the $99, 8GB, touchscreen smartphone category, pointing out, “AT&T pioneered the segment with the iPhone 3G, and Verizon Wireless has the HTC Droid Eris.”