In a shot across the iPhone's bow, Palm is launching its new Palm Pre smartphone the weekend before Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. This means any iPhone announcements at WWDC will be undoubtedly compared to Palm's new platform.
The Pre handset will cost $200 after a $100 mail-in rebate, and if you sign up for a two-year contract with Sprint. The monthly service costs roughly the same as AT&T's iPhone plan but offers unlimited text messaging -- a $20 option with Ma Bell.
Electronista points out that the Pre has some small technical advantages over the iPhone as well: a three megapixel camera, an optional inductive charger, and EVDO networking. Depending on the area, EVDO can be faster than both EDGE and GPRS, but not faster than HSDPA (the latter of which AT&T is rolling out across the U.S.). In any case, AT&T is already preparing its sales staff for the looming battle.
Also, Sprint claims that having a Pre will cost $1,430 less over the two-year contract period compared to owning an iPhone for the same period.
Meanwhile, for those of us on Verizon, we'll just have to make do with calculators connected by string. Which reminds me -- you all got the notice Verizon was upgrading us to nylon cord this week, right?