Palm Unveils Pixi webOS Phone, Forgets to Add Wifi

In a move reminiscent of the Pre launch, Palm has unveiled its second webOS mobile phone today, ahead of Apple’s music/iPod event. The Palm Pixi is a candybar incarnation of the Pre, but is clearly positioned below its big brother; smaller screen, and more worryingly, no wifi.

The Palm Pixi takes a few big steps away from its big brother the Pre. The Pixi comes in the candybar form factor, sporting the QWERTY keyboard underneath the display instead of under a slider. The Pixi is also incredibly small, thin, and light: it’s 10.85mm thin, 111mm tall, and 55mm wide, and weighs in at a mere 99.5 grams. The Pixi is considerably thinner and lighter than either the Pre, the iPhone 3GS, or any Blackberry.

The screen is a 2.63″ capacitive multi-touch display sporting a 320×400 pixel resolution, which is smaller than that of the Pre (3.1″ 320×480) or that of the iPhone (3.5″ 320×480). The multitouch part extends below the screen into the gesture area (a prerequisite for the webOS, it seems), but the centre button of the Pre has been replaced by a gesture area tap. The lower resolution is no problem for the webOS and its applications, as it was designed from the start to handle different resolutions. The multitouch also appears to be slightly more responsive than on the Pre.

First reports indicate that the Pixi’s keyboard is more pleasant to use than that of the Pre, mostly because the Pixi’s keys are taller. In addition, the keyboard sports better tactile feedback.

Inside the Pixi, you’ll find many of the same parts as in the Pre, but with a few key differences – and one glaring omission. It has GPS, 2mp camera with LED flash, 3.5mm headset jack, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, 8GB of storage space (~7GB user available), MicroUSB port (both data and charging), proximity sensor, light sensor, accelerometer, ringer switch, and the same 1150 mAh battery as found in the Pre. The Pixi uses a brand new Qualcomm processor: the MSM7627. The exact specifications of this chip are as of yet unknown. RAM figures are unknown too.

The elephant in the room here is of course the lack of a wireless internet chip. In this day and age, this seems like a major feature gap, and I’m not entirely sure why Palm opted for this path. Sure, the Pixi needs to be set apart from and below the Pre, but the smaller and lower resolution screen already pretty much guarantee that.

In the light of positioning the Pixi below the Pre, it seems all the more odd that the Pixi will work with the wireless Touchstone charger just fine, in the same way as the Pre (both require a special backplate). I’d much rather have the Pixi not do Touchstone and have wifi than the other way around. Despite the fact that unlimited wireless data contracts go for 10-15 EUR a month here, the lack of wifi is still definitely a deal breaker here.

The Pixi will be available before the holidays… But only on Sprint for now. So, here we are, two webOS phones, tied to Sprint, and only available in the US and Canada. Us peasants in Europe will have to settle for iPhones and Nokias for now.


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