O2 have just announced that they will be launching the Palm Pre in the UK on October 16th. The handset - the GSM version of the Sprint device that has been available in the US for several months now - will be priced between free and £96.89 ($159) depending on contract.
Update: O2 in Germany and Ireland will also get the Palm Pre on October 13th and 16th respectively. German pricing details here; Irish details after the cut.
Full contract details after the cut
Rumors of Palm releasing a candybar phone with front-facing QWERTY keyboard have been around since the launch of the Palm Pre. Well, as of tonight the Pixi is no longer a rumor. Similar to the Palm Pre, Pixi is powered by WebOS and has a multi-touch capacitive display, 8GB of internal user storage memory, the same removable 1150 mAh battery and proximity sensor, among other things. However it squeezes all of that into an incredibly compact casing: just 111 x 55 x 10.85 mm, thinner than an iPhone 3GS.
Seidio's first extended battery for the Palm Pre may have had the charge - it promised almost double the capacity of the standard 1,150mAh pack the smartphone is shipped with - but it also had the bulk to go with it. Now Seidio are back with an alternative; you only get around 20-percent more capacity, but there's no change in your Pre's profile.
Hot on the heels of Palm's Movistar GSM Pre sighting comes confirmation from carrier O2 that they'll be offering the smartphone "in time for the Christmas holidays". The handset will go on sale in the UK, Ireland and Germany on O2, with Spanish buyers getting the GSM Pre on Movistar. As expected, the only hardware change has been switching to support HSDPA/UMTS.
Over 50,000 people may have taken home a box just like this at some time over the weekend, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Paul Cooster. While Palm and Sprint are yet to comment regarding first-weekend Pre sales, analysts have tentatively pegged the figures as ranging from 35,000 to 60,000, with shortages of the smartphone having a significant impact on numbers.
A lot can happen in five months. Announced to dropped jaws at CES back in January, the Palm Pre has captured attention in a way usually only Cupertino can. Tightly patrolled demos at intervening tradeshows have only added to the allure; now, on June 6th, it's Palm and Sprint's chance to see whether hype adds up to sales. SlashGear have been living, breathing and sleeping Pre for the past couple of weeks: read on for our full review.
It almost seems unnecessary to go over the Pre's hardware: it's been pored over since the CES launch. As well as the obvious things - the 3.1-inch 320 x 480 capacitive touchscreen, slide-out hardware QWERTY keyboard, multitouch strip under the display and 3-megapixel camera on the back - there's EVDO Rev.A, WiFi b/g, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and a multitasking-capable processor lurking inside.
Sprint have announced that the Palm Pre will go on sale from June 6th, priced at $199.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate. The Pre will be available from Sprint's own stores, together with Best Buy, Radio Shack and selected Wal-Mart stores.
Recent news that Palm are tipped to be working with the Wall Street Journal to announce the Pre's launch date on May 19th, and word that Best Buy are expecting stock of the distinctive Touchstone inductive charger on June 7th has again fueled speculation that the smartphone is imminent. It already seems likely that Pre-buyers will be queuing up for the new handset, and potentially doing so on Sunday June 7th, but it could be the week or two beforehand that makes the biggest difference to its reception.
Now here's a disappointing unboxing: get all the packaging open and discover that there's no Palm Pre inside. MaxPDA managed to acquire the packaging and printed material that buyers of the Sprint Palm Pre will find their precious new handset ensconced within, and haven't left the absence of the smartphone itself stop them from photo-documenting the unboxing experience.