In an effort to resolve the mystery surrounding the poor talk time performance of the Treo Pro smart phone I've been reviewing, Palm sent me a second unit that was waiting for me when I returned from my recent vacation. While I was able to prove that the GSM radio works properly in this second device, I still found the Treo Pro provided terrible talk times when connected at 3G speeds.
Once again, I could only squeeze out about 2 hours and 40 minutes of talk time when connected at the faster rate on the AT&T network -- significantly below the 5-hour rating Palm claims for the device in its specification sheets. And this time measurement occurred with the phone set to autoconnect to the best available network -- not forced to 3G. (By way of comparison, the Nokia E71 got about 4.5 hours when forced to 3G and over 12 hours when set to autoconnect.)
Understandably, Palm's representatives are more than a bit concerned about my findings. They said Palm would never release a phone with battery performance that poor into today's marketplace. They also claim (and some cursory online research seems to confirm) that no other reviewers have experienced performance this poor. Yet I've seen it on two Treo Pros now.
To try and figure out if the performance was related to something in particular with the AT&T network or the cell around eWEEK's San Francisco offices, Palm sent out an engineering team last week to scan the environment and run its own tests on the network.
I haven't gotten the full report on their findings (and probably won't for a couple more days), but early indications are that the Palm engineers also experienced unusually high battery consumption when performing tests in the lobby of our building -- but not when testing from the sidewalk right outside. Unfortunately, the team did not come up to our ninth floor offices to get a full measure of the network conditions where I conduct each and every battery test we perform.
With the Treo Pro available for sale from the Palm Web site as an unlocked device (as of Sept. 26), perhaps we will start to see word soon as to whether users are experiencing results similar to what I'm seeing. In the meantime, I will continue to wait for Palm's findings.
One way or another, however, the review will be online later this week.