Review by Dan Seifert on Wednesday May 18, 2011.
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As mentioned earlier, the Veer 4G retains the familiar portrait-slider design that the Palm Pre had. Fortunately, HP has significantly improved the quality of the slider itself, as it feels much more solid than the older phones did. The two halves open and close with an authoritative snap and there is no wiggle between the two. The touchscreen is made with Gorilla Glass, like the Pre 2, and the rest of the phone is covered in a soft-touch rubber. The power/sleep/unlock button, the volume rocker, and the mute switch (a favorite feature from the Palm Treo days) are all made of metal with a black chrome finish. This is a step up from the plastic buttons and switches on the Palm Pre, Pre Plus, and Pre 2, which had a cheap feel and frequently failed.
Of course the main story of the Veer's hardware is its size, and that size is petite. In fact, when closed the Veer takes up the area of a credit card and is thinner than a deck of playing cards. The official measurements are 54.5mm x 84mm x 15.1mm (2.15in x 3.31in x 0.59in), but all you need to know is that it is small. Very small. The Veer weighs in at 103g (3.63oz), which is noticeably lighter than many other smartphones, though when combined with the Veer's small size, the weight provides a solid feel in the hand. The screen itself is a 2.6-inch, 320 x 400 pixel capacitive display with 18-bit color. Below the screen is the webOS gesture area and its pulsating notification light. Up top is the speaker and a proximity sensor.
The QWERTY keyboard that is available when the Veer is slid open should be familiar looking to Pre and Pixi users, as it has the same translucent, backlit keys that both of those models had. Thankfully, the Veer's keyboard is more similar to the Pixi in that the keys are raised more than on the Pre/Pre Plus and have a clicky feel, rather than a mushy one. Unfortunately, the limitations of the Veer's size rear their head here, as the keyboard is very small and can be difficult to type on. Frequently, I would be tripping over my own fingers as I typed because of the lilliputian keyboard.
HP claims that the small size of the Veer made it impossible to add standard ports for charging and syncing and for listening to music. You will not find a standard micro-USB port, nor a 3.5mm headphone jack on the Veer. Instead, HP has opted to install a magnetic connector on the side of the phone that acts as double duty for charging and plugging in headphones.
Similar to the MagSafe power connectors on Apple MacBooks and MacBook Pros, the magnetic connector utilizes a special USB cable with the magnet on one end and a standard USB plug on the other. You must use this proprietary cable in order to sync data on a computer or charge the phone. This is something that is quite frustrating, as any micro-USB chargers that you already own, such as vehicle adapters, will not work with the Veer. Neither will any chargers from other phones. Apple is in a position where they can force users to use a proprietary connector, HP (and formerly Palm) is not. The back of the Veer is Touchstone compatible, so it can be charged that way if you happen to own a Touchstone.
There is an adapter that allows a standard set of headphones to connect to the Veer through the magnetic port. While it is frustrating to have to deal with (and very easy to lose, thanks to its small size), at least you can use any standard headphones you like with it. It should be noted that when connected, the magnets held on pretty toghtly, and it took a firm pull to get the adapters separated from the phone.
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.