Palm Pre vs. Treo 700p with SERO Plan

Posted by matt on July 27, 2009

palmpre3.jpgWhile there have been countless comparisons of the Palm Pre to the Apple iPhone, I haven’t seen many comparing the Palm Pre to the Treo line of products (Treo 650, Treo 700p, Treo 755p, Treo Centro). There are still tens of thousands of old Sprint SERO customers on a Treo 700p (or similar) that like me, are looking to upgrade to something. The old Sprint SERO plan was at it’s peak around 2-3 years ago, so many Sprint customers are either rolling off their plans, or at a minimum, definitely ready for a new phone.

image by THA Casino

I was a Treo 700p user for 3 years with heavy use on a $30 SERO plan (upgraded later to $45 with unlim. text). For over a year of that, I also extensively used email, RSS, web, Twitter, Twitpic, Facebook, etc. I made the move from the Treo 700p to the Palm Pre in early June 2009, and decided to put together the comparison of what you have to look forward to (or what you have to give up): NOTE: this comparison was written on 7/27/09 and is based on Palm Pre WebOS v1.1

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Features where the Palm Pre has the advantage:

Feature Treo 700p Palm Pre
User Interface / Experience Okay Revolutionary
Size of device Bulky and heavy Thin, sleek
Touch Screen Okay, for 2005 All the multi-touch features you’ve come to expect
Screen resolution Okay, but square Excellent high-res for size, auto-rotate for web, movies
Youtube No Yes
WiFi No Yes
GPS No Yes
Web Browsing Yes, though not great Yes, zoomable, fast
Easy SMS threading Yes, though a little clunky Yes, nicely done
Gmail 3rd party App, not great Excellent built-in support
IMAP email Okay Easy, better than 700p
Multitasking ability Limited Robust
Camera 1.3MP 3.0MP (though tends to oversharpen)
Camera Flash No Yes (though bad)
Camera low-light quality Fair Better than 700p
Online Contact integration (i.e. Facebook) No Yes
Calendar support Good Even better
Twitter Site was clunky Great Twitter App available at launch (i.e. Tweed)
Watching Video Not bad, not great Excellent, though lack of DIVX is limiting
Compatibility Plays thousands of Palm apps With the ‘Classic’ emulator, will play many of them, but your mileage will vary

Features where the Palm Treo 700p has the current advantage

Features Treo 700p Palm Pre
Calling Plan cost and features SERO, $30-45 per month for 500 min, unlimited everything else (deals varied) Everything plan, $60-100 per month (450 min – unlimited) You HAVE to give up your SERO plan
Durability of device It’s a tank, 3 years with multiple drops, no problems I’m on my 2nd one already, current one has ‘oreo’ issue
“Casual” data tethering Easy hack, or 3rd party App Complicated hack, no app yet, Sprint clamping down
Easy RSS / Podcast downloading Yes, 3rd party app (i.e. Quick News) Not yet
Battery Life Better than Pre Pretty bad—can barely get through a day with moderate use
Customizable Alerts, etc. Yes through App, (i.e. Butler) Limited, no app yet
DIVX Playback Yes, 3rd Party app Nothing yet
Applications available Thousands 30 (as of 7/27/09) Not counting homebrew
Camera Zoom Yes (digital) but good for twitpic, etc. where digital cropping is useful No—in fact, camera has no features at all!
Camera can shoot video Yes No
Memory SDHC Cards 8GB built in, not expandable
Facebook Site was actually better in Treo Blazer browser IMHO Facebook pre-populated bookmark is an unusable joke on the Pre. Terrible.
# of dropped Calls Fair Seems worse than Treo. No one is on Sprint for their voice network though…
Games Thousands of Palm games Just a few native ones, and they seem lame. Classic would give you more, but emulated may not work.

Features where the 2 phones are very similar

Features Treo 700p Palm Pre
Removable Battery Yes Yes, harder to open
Pop Email Yes Yes
MP3 Playback Yes, 3rd Party app Yes, built in (big battery killer)
Keyboard Excellent Treo has slight edge, but for smaller size, still perfectly usable for me
Initial Cost of device $199-$399 (755p can be had new for $99) $199 (after $100 rebate)


So should you upgrade? The question isn’t really should you upgrade, but rather when you should upgrade. Using the 700p is not a sustainable solution, so while you know you need to get something else, check the list above to see if you ultimately lose something you absolutely need today. Sure, an app will probably come out in the future that will address what is missing, but the development has been slow going so far…

It boils down to: Is it worth paying an extra $15-35 more a month for a device that isn’t as seasoned as the 700p, but has a greater potential (and some distinct advantages already)?

The answer for me is yes, but depending on your needs, you may want to wait until more apps are available. The success of the Palm Pre is dependent on Palm staying active and getting people developing on the platform ASAP. If and when that happens, it makes it an excellent upgrade from the Treo 700p.

Thoughts? Any key features I’m missing? Comments below:

Posted under how to, reviews, tech gadgets
  1. Detailed Palm 700p vs. Palm Pre Article - Said,

    […] Detailed Palm 700p vs. Palm Pre Article If you have the 700p and are thinking about the Palm Pre, check out my analysis so you know what you may be getting yourself into (especially if you have SERO!) Palm Pre vs. Treo 700p with SERO Plan ? […]

  2. pixie Said,

    i miss my 700P – i miss tethering, i miss a MUCH better calender and I miss being able to “hot sync” and back up ALL my info on on my personal computer, i miss being able to make videos –

    on the other hand, i had 30 days to give back my PRE and just couldnt do it! Its so cool and I am keeping faith the little annoying things and missing features will get better :)

    thanks for a great review :)

  3. Talkin’ Pre — Week ending 31 July | Said,

    […] to see how the Pre matches up to a Treo 700p? Matthew Apps offered his thoughts, offering a great chart comparing the two and concluding: "The answer for me is yes, but […]

  4. Joe Said,

    Matt: What are your thoughts on the PIM applications: Calendar, Tasks, Memos? They’re quick and intuitive on the 700p. I’ve heard varying reviews of them on the Pre.

  5. Ken Bagby Said,

    I got a Pre and am enjoying all the features. However, I am so disgusted in the lack of basic functionality that the 700p had that I am using both devices until these shortcomings are resolved, hopefully soon. Lack of categories on Contacts, Tasks, & Memos make them all but unusable on the Pre; I have hundreds or even thousands in each. Even the Calendar function with the synergy integration is slow and klutzy compared with the Treo. But I too couldn’t part with the cool parts of the Pre.

  6. rroc Said,

    I have a 700p with Sprint that is out of contract, so as you can imagine, I am itching to do something with it. I have looked at the Pre, some of the Blackberry options and even walked into an AT&T store to see what all the fuss was about with the iPhone. Sorry … I am staying with my Treo for now. I know it’s not as “cool”, but I can’t live without the features not least of which is tethering!

  7. Pat Said,

    I just discovered your review via PreCentral. I also upgraded from a 700p and have been writing about it on my blog at I am also making comparisons to an iPhone 3GS which I tried out at the same time (for 3 wks). I kept the Pre and returned the iPhone and have retired my 700p (mostly). The Classic App (PalmOS emulator) has proved indispensible to me to solve some of the problems mentioned above (Memos, Categories, Tasks) as I learn how to make the transition and wait for more native apps on the Pre.

    But as you say, the Pre is just too cool, especially the (expensive!) Touchstone, which gets lots of use with the weak battery 😉

  8. Scott Said,

    Correction: Treo 700p has YouTube support with Kinoma 4 EX.

  9. Steve Said,

    How do I move my treo 680 info (calendar, memos, contacts, tasks) to my new
    Palm Pre and get it onto the CLASSIC application (which I have)

  10. Bo Said,

    I tried the Pre for 3 weeks. My big issues is that the basic palm programs — datebook, ccontacts, calendar, memos, tasks — do not work as well. The “emulator” program does not work well. I have used these programs for years; rather than lose contact and calendar information I guess Ill hold on to my 700p a little longer. Has anyone news on making these programs available on the Pre? Like the Pre’s better speeds and browsing. Hope they can take care of us original palm users. I also liked hotsync. Was so easy to backup.

  11. Bo Said,

    The Classic application does not work well. To transfer information from your 680 to Pre you back up your 680 to Palm and it will transfer to your pre. The problem is it seems to duplicate lots of records and the applications do not work the same.

  12. Anne Said,

    I just returned my Palm Pre. I tried it for 30 days. It was hard to answer the phone …have to flip it open and then hit a button on the touch screen….dangerous when you are driving.. it is slippery and hard to hold onto. I think it is hard to type on (the c and v buttons in particular were very difficult to push). The battery life is terrible and the camera did not work.

    Maybe I got a dud, but just the difficulty in using the phone and typing was enough. I turned my Treo back on and I’m much happier today.

    I do admit that the applications and internet were great…but it doesn’t outweigh the “normal” things like talking and texting that were difficult.

  13. Carlos Galvan Said,

    This is exactly (almost) the comparison I have been looking for! Because of a snafu in my plan and phone/provider switching, I need to get a new plan hence new contract. That being the case I should take advantage of a cheap (at least highly discounted) cool new phone like the Palm Pre.

    I currently use both a Treo 700p for calls and business apps and an HTC PPC 6600 for Mapopolis browsing and IMAP. (I don’t like not being able to recieve calls while data-ing). After reading here, I’ve decided to go ahead and purchase a Pre with it’s 320×480 res for 80 (walmart) or 100 bucks replacing my ppc 240×320 and keep using my TREO. With Keysuite it syncs extremely well with my Outlooks multiple calendars and multiple sets of contacts and so is invaluable.

  14. Carlos Galvan Said,

    P.S. That one spec you left out:

    700p 320 x 320
    Pre 320 × 480 (Awesome for showing off some of my Photography !)

  15. kannanp Said,

    A very well researched, written article. You are a pro. I decided to keep my 700p Sprint because of tethering~, battery and sturdiness. I thank you.

  16. DK Said,

    Pre does not sync notes to outlook. The 700p does. The 700p tethers, the pre does not. And a 133x SD card can speed up applications quite a bit on a treo. The data plan on a treo is cheap. you can buy a refurbished treo 700p for about $50 without contractual obligations.
    My answer was to use the 700p for texting, calendar, contacts, memo, and tethering, as well as web browsing. It is not that slow. I got a ipod touch to use on wi fi for their apps. That is a great combination for me.

  17. Julien Said,

    I’ve been very disappointed by the Pre and had to switch back to my Treo 700p. I’d say of you like Palm OS and its effective PIM applications (calendar, contacts, tasks and memos), you probably won’t like the Pre. Otherwise, I think the Pre may be a good choice. For more details, read this excellent review:

  18. Lynn Said,

    I’ve been waiting to upgrade my Treo 700 but will miss the desktop sync, the mobile write (I use that instead of the keyboard) and the voice activated calling.