Friday, September 18, 2009

DON'T RETURN IT! Simple and Easy Fixes for the Palm Pre

In my readings of Palm Pre forums and Twitter posts I noticed several common issues kept popping up, leading many people to return their Pre's as "defective."  This is a shame, because many Pre's are returned when in fact they don't need to be. With just a little bit of research you'll find the majority of the Palm Pre's "little gremlins" can be sorted out quite easily.

Plus, rest assured because Palm seems to have listened to its customers and is making improvements to the Pre's hardware.

Read my list of several of these common problems and their fixes after the break...


This is probably the most common issue that I saw. Fortunately, it's a very simple problem, one that can be easily fixed.  It is due to a "battery wiggle" issue.  A minor manufacturing "snafu" was made when the battery was designed...  it's juuuuust small enough that when the Pre is jostled, or if the slider is open or closed, the battery may come off of its contacts momentarily.  This can cause the Pre's screen to flicker, shut off, or even shut the Pre down completely.  Another problem that comes from this is that this "battery cycling" actually causes the battery to wear down faster!

The solution? I've been telling owners to cut a small piece of double-sided foam tape and install it at the area of the phone where the top edge of battery makes contact.  Others have resorted to business cards and stuff, but I don't find that it's ideal.  Not surprisingly, Palm has addressed this issue on newer builds by ... *gasp!* installing a small piece of foam in exactly the same place. (I swear when I saw that I felt like such a genius! ... I know... geek is more appropriate!) 

Palm also redesigned their stock battery, presumably for a better fit.  (The old battery is the one on the left with the grooves, the new one is on the right.)  If the above fixes don't work for you, then you can march right up to your Sprint store and demand a new battery.  I've been reading that they've been generous in exchanging them. Our Canadian friends to the north should have the newer builds, so this is hopefully a non-issue for them.

Many people have noticed that when the Pre is closed, it seems to have a little wiggle if you twist it like an Oreo (hence the name).  THIS IS NORMAL: the vast majority of Pre's do this to a negligible degree. But some report that their Pre gets little too loose for comfort.  It happened to me once and I discovered an embarrasingly simple fix.  See if it works for you.

First, squeeze the two halves of your Pre together, placing gentle but firm pressure at the corners (you don't wanna crack your screen!)

Next... keeping pressure, slowly open and close your Pre about once or twice.


Keep the pressure focused at the points as shown in this pic.  It might help. Remember that you will always have some wiggle, and will likely need to do this fix again sometime. If results aren't satisfactory, you could try pressing a little harder. Again, be careful.

UPDATE: oasis9389 on the forums has noticed that if you close your Pre from an upper left to bottom right fashion, that it has the same effect as the fix above.  This is likely due to the asymmetrical design of the original rail system for the slider.  I've read that Palm is fixing this with newer builds as well. Thanks!  Final tip: don't fiddle with your Pre after you do this maneuver. If with minimal pressure you notice your Pre is tighter, leave it alone... or you'll go blind! :)

After a long road trip listening to Pandora, Sprint TeleNav, and taking calls by bluetooth, I let my Palm Pre go to sleep mode, unplugged the AUX wire out of my Pre, and went up to my hotel. I tried to call my wife to let her know I had arrived safely, but to my horror I couldn't hear anything on the other side.  I also noticed the proximity sensor (the sensor that shuts off the Pre's touchscreen so your cheek doesn't inadvertently hit a button during a phone call) wasn't working anymore.  I did notice, however, that my speakerphone was working just fine. ... And then it hit me:  my Pre still thought there was a wire plugged into it!  All I'd have to do is plug/unplug any standard headphone into the jack!  (Funny part was, I had left the AUX wire in my boss' car... it wasn't until the next day that I sheepishly asked a total stranger at the airport to borrow his headphones... after plugging/unplugging my phone, I was in business!)

So... the solution? Don't unplug your headphones while the Pre is OFF or in sleep mode!

Others have said that if that doesn't work to try this trick while your music player is ON.  I didn't need this trick, but maybe it'll work for you.  ... It's worth noting that this problem existed on the iPhone when it first launched.  Hopefully this will be corrected by our friends at Palm, too.  ... But I wouldn't mind visual voicemail, first! ; )

For those with more resistant problems, and if the above fix doesn't work for you, then try this: 
a.   Shut off your Pre. To be safe, I'd take out the battery, too.
b.   Take a Q-tip
c.   Remove some of the extra fluff
d.   Wet the tip with alcohol
e.   Insert the tip into the headset jack and clean it really well.
f.    Let it dry
g.   Turn your Pre back on
h.   Go to "Device Info" in your launcher
i.   Open the menu and select "Interactive Tests."
j.   Select "Audio" self-test.  You should be done! Try it now...


I hadn't seen this for myself until my wife got a brand-new Palm Pre. It didn't creak out of the box but when I replaced the back-cover on it, the creaking started and wouldn't stop no matter how I installed the backplate.  Luckily, there's a simple solution for this as well: just apply electrical tape to the inside portion of the backplate, as shown here...

This problem probably occurs more commonly than it should.  Essentially, this is caused by the awesome "Synergy" feature on the Pre that links profiles (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn) of people all together.  Problem is, it can cause a glitch in the messaging app:  for some reason, the Pre gets confused and can't find the contact associated with that conversation.  There's a few solutions for this...

a)  Unlink your contact.  Say you've lost the conversation with your mom.  Go to her contact, and tap at the top of her contact to see all her profiles (see pic on left).  If she has only ONE profile (my mom has 3), skip to the next step. Once all the profiles pop up (see second pic on left), tap one of them.  This will pull up a menu (see third pic on left). Tap the "Unlink This Profile" button.  Repeat this for all of the profiles in Mom's contact listing.  Reboot your Pre.  (A quick way of rebooting: hold the orange, SYM, and R keys.)

b) Delete your contact. Pretty self-explanatory.  Find Mom in the contacts, and tap "Contacts" in the upper left hand corner of the screen.  Delete Mom's contact (sorry, Mom).  Reboot your Pre.  Go make a sandwich. After the Pre finally loads up, re-enter mom's contact.  Finally, try an SMS or IM conversation with her again and see if it shows up in the messaging app.  If all went well, it should work.  If not, proceed to the final step.


This is a problem I found on my wife's brand-new Palm Pre: when I'd open the phone app, the screen would flicker on and off and wouldn't stop until I closed the phone app.  It was very worrisome, but turned out to have a very simple fix:  take off the screen protector! Normally, the proximity sensor on the Palm Pre and Pixi deactivate the screen when your face comes close, to avoid accidental pushing of buttons while on a call.  In my wife's case, the screen protector was "fooling" her Pre into thinking that her face was close to the phone.  After removing it, cleaning the screen really well, and replacing the screen protector, the problem never returned.

This happened to me one morning and scared the hell out of me.  I had just switched out the battery when this occurred. So, I powered the phone off, pulled the battery out and placed it back in, and voila! My keyboard was working again.  I have no idea what caused it, but at least there's a simple fix for it!

This has not happened to me, but I have read in a couple forums that some people were able to get their phone working by doing a battery pull, just as in solution #4 above.  It didn't work for everyone, but hey it's so simple it's worth a shot.

There seems to be a small bug on the Palm Pre Plus where the GPS fix isn’t accurate at all, even with GPS turned on.  It’s an issue being investigated, but for right now, there seems to be a fix that works:  open the VZ Navigator app, even if you haven’t paid for the service.  This supposedly fixes it.  No idea why.

For some reason, the Wifi on the Palm Pre Plus does not play nice with MMS.  I’m sure this will be fixed soon, but in the meantime, there’s a simple fix:  turn wifi OFF when sending an MMS.

There you have it. Ten simple problems with simple fixes for the Palm Pre.  I'm not claiming these fixes will work for everybody, but heck they're so easy it's worth a shot before running back to your Palm retailer. If you have any other simple fixes that you'd like me to feature in this blog, leave a comment! Thanks.


  1. I not sure if you have heard any problems with the pre getting really phone has burned my finger and my home charger,I am afraid to charge my cell at home

  2. the wiggle on my pre is gone!!!! awesome!! that was one of my biggest concerns! for a minute i thought i was using it too much but i barely talk or text. But after reading number 2 my wiggle is gone!! thanks dude!!

  3. @weedi ... Wow, no I sure haven't. There's a simple fix for that, though: get a new battery! LOL

  4. Double-sided foam tape trick worked great for me, haven't had any shutoffs or restarts since.

    I also had the messaging prob, I unlinked and then relinked the contacts...1.3.5 was supposed to address this and fix it but who knows.

  5. You should add a fix for the broken power buttons!

  6. how about the volume rocker switch issue...i am trying but need 'your' clear directions for guidance...

  7. Turning off WiFI has not solved my MMS issue...
    hmmm... trade for a new one?

  8. Hi Katie,
    Have you tried a battery pull? Also (and this is very important), the Pre is extremely sensitive to low signal strength. If you have anything less than a strong connection, your MMS typically won't send it. One thing you can try when sending pictures: send a screen SNAPSHOT of a picture, rather than the one you took with your camera. Camera pics are a full megabyte in size, which is pretty large to send, especially if your phone is "persnickety" when it comes to connections. Snapshots, on the other hand, are about 1/10th the size. If you don't know how to take screen snapshots, check out my article on webOSroundup to see how this is done...

  9. My wife's Pre has a power jack cover that always falls off. Fine when it was new, the tiny barb that holds it in place when the cover is open has just worn down to a nub. I haven't been able to find a replacement.

    Any suggestions?