We've got the Palm Treo Pro for Sprint in house, and we're not talking one of the few units that filtered out of Best Buy before it was pulled from the shelves. This is the unit as Sprint intends to release it on March 15th. It's slick, it's black, it's pretty and still looks like an iPhone 3G from the back.
The Treo Pro is a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional touch screen phone with a front-facing QWERTY keyboard. It's very similar to the unlocked GSM Palm Treo Pro we reviewed last September. But this version has a full suite of Sprint software, including Sprint TV, Sprint Navigation, Sprint Music, Sprint Titan (Java VM) and Sprint's software store.
The most interesting update for the Sprint version is Internet Explorer 6 Mobile, a first on a shipping Windows Mobile phone. It offers an improved web browsing experience over the old and tired IE Mobile with better desktop layout mode, zoom with page overview mode, full screen mode, and a deeper selection of settings (browser language settings, default to desktop or mobile mode, play sounds). It's better but not yet great-- we'll take Opera for it's speed, multiple windows and even better desktop rendering. IE on the Treo Pro runs well enough and we had no issues with slow-downs or low memory problems.
The Treo Pro has a 528MHz processor and it feels faster than the GSM version (perhaps Sprint's delay to tweak the phone's performance was a good thing). It has a hefty 512 megs of flash storage with 314 megs free, and 128 megs of RAM (that's a little low for the Treo Pro's tier) with 45 megs free at boot (that's acceptable).
Sprint will sell the Treo Pro for $199 with a 2 year contract after rebates. Sprint has a good selection of smartphones and PDA phones, so the Treo Pro will face some stiff competition in-house from the HTC Windows Mobile Touch Pro, Touch Diamond and BlackBerry models for QWERTY-bar lovers.
It has EVDO Rev. A for fast data, though our connection is sometimes fast and at other times slows down. Reception is average to a little below and this may be affecting data speeds. It doesn't pull as strong a signal as the HTC Touch Pro and occasionally lost signal completely. We've only had it for a day, so we'll test it lots more before issuing a final verdict on reception and data speeds.
The GPS with Sprint Navigation works well and gets a fix quickly, even indoors near a window. The GPS kept up with our location when driving and the speaker is adequate though not loud enough for top-down or windows-down driving at high speeds.
We're still not thrilled that you have to remove the slippery back to access the SDHC microSD card slot, but at least you don't need to pull the battery. The Treo has a 3.5mm stereo headset jack (yay!), a micro-USB port and a tiny charger. The box is small and iPhone-like, just as with the GSM version. To further the iPhone-copying effect, a box insert says "Inspired by and designed in California".
Stay tuned for our full review in a few days, and in the meantime, feel free to post questions .
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview