Unpacking the Pre, you get the sense that it is designed for fun and not as much for business, with an artistic design flare for the box and included materials. There's an earbud headset and a USB charger, plus a small manual.

Palm also offers the Touchstone Charging Dock – the phone sits on a magnetic cradle and charges using inductive charging technology. You can't charge the phone on the cradle and connect it to your PC, so you have to do one or the other.

palm pre

SNUG: The Pre fits nicely in your hand

The Pre weighs 135 grams, which is a hair heavier than the iPhone 3G and exactly the same as the iPhone 3GS. Strangely, the Palm Pre feels lighter because the slide-out keyboard adds some overall length and the fact that the plastic feels a little...well, plasticky.

Sliding the keyboard out, you will notice a slight curve to the device. One of the first oddities of the phone: the edge of the keyboard is actually quite sharp.

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CURVE: The device is slightly curved with a sharp end

When you close the keyboard, you have to be careful because you can ever-so-slightly pinch your hand in the side of the phone (it happened at least twice during our tests). Overall, the Pre looks sleek and stylish, matching the sparse buttons of the iPhone and HTC Hero.

There's a 3.5mm headphone jack, power button, a call lock switch on top, a side mini-USB port (with a cover) on the right side and volume controls on the left side.

The phone just feels right in your hand – resting right in your palm and not quite as elongated (with the keyboard closed) as the iPhone or as thick and bulky as the T-Mobile G1.

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SMALL: The Pre is a smaller device than the Apple iPhone

It's also smaller and more portable than the HTC Magic. In fact, no other phone quite matches the size and shape – it is thicker than most slide-out phones like the Sidekick II, but not as tall as the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic.

That said, after using the phone for 72 hours, we found the plastic construction to be a little worrisome – it feels as though after a few tumbles the enclosure could crack, and we were worryingly able to twist the screen a few degrees from the keyboard.

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