HP Pre 3 4G webOS Smartphone

Summary:  The HP Pre3 was the last phone released by HP prior to the announced end of life of its webOS hardware devices. Running a unique, and ahead of its time OS called webOS, the HP Pre3 was the only 4G (HSPA) webOS smartphone to be released.

Ironically this phone was released in the UK one day prior to HP discontinuing the entire webOS line of hardware in August 2011.  The particular unit we reviewed is the U.S. version of the Pre3, which although never being released officially, was manufactured for AT&T and made available through the HP employee store and thence to eBay.  Having the Touch-to-Share feature in common with the HP TouchPad, 16GB of storage at the top end, and 4G speeds, the Pre3 was the most advanced webOS phone ever made.  Again, containing a physical keyboard and a removable battery, this phone appealed to webOS developers and fans alike, with especially large set of benefits for road warriors with their need for connected and light-traveling companions.

Optimal Market: Users who were heavily invested in the webOS ecosystem, and/or who were heavy users of a physical keyboard (e.g. former Blackberry users) and who wished to have a webOS phone with more modern data access speeds.

Sub-optimal market:  At the time, users who needed critical apps, such as Skype, Documents to Go, and more.  Users who are significantly invested in Apple’s or Google’s ecosystem of apps, hardware, and services would have found this device to be less than ideal.

Considerations:

  • Physical Keyboard:  With a removable battery and a physical keyboard, the HP Pre3 was especially appealing to road warriors who had previously been enamored of Blackberry devices.
  • Removeable Battery:  Due to the removeable battery, users could quickly continue working while away from power for an extended period.  This appealed to heavy travelers.
  • Wireless Charging:  This device used Palm’s unique TouchStone charging capability to become one of the first devices to support the highly convenient, if somewhat slower, ability to charge wirelessly.
  • webOS Platform End of Life:  While webOS was never a fully accepted platform, it was ahead of its time in some areas.  Unfortunately, webOS is no longer supported by HP, with the HP app store (App Catalog) no longer being available as of 2015.  As such, the native OS on this phone will retain its limited usefulness.
  • Touch to Share:  One of the first device families to support tapping one device to share information with another, an HP Pre3, when paired with an HP TouchPad tablet, could share a web site URL that was being viewed from one device to another.  This served as somewhat of a gimmick, as the technology never was expanded beyond tapping to share web URLs.

Requirements (any one of the following):

  • Runs webOS.

Approximate Retail Price:  $180 (used)-$270 (new)

Purchase Link (Amazon):  HP Pre3 4G webOS Smartphone

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