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Some Palm Pre Purchasers PO'd

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The Palm Pre

Palm's big comeback with the highly-regarded Pre smartphone may be dampened by reports of poor quality and high returns. Users are lining up to complain on at least one Pre forum about what they describe as a flimsy design.

Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) has not disclosed its total sales since the Pre's launch in May, but Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder wrote in a report that by his estimates, 370,000 units have sold since the Pre went on sale in May. Snyder estimates that Palm is producing 15,000 units per day and is on its way to selling one million units in its first quarter of sales.

With that many customers of a new product, there are bound to be complaints, and they are piling up at Pre|Central.net's forums, where an informal survey (which is hardly scientific) found one in three buyers has returned their phone at least once.

The litany of complaints is pretty long, as are posts reporting no problems and defending Palm. But for a new phone, the Pre has a lot of unhappy customers. The problems stem from a notable gap between the two halves of the phone, the screen not being secure, dead pixels and the phone powering off when opening up the sliding screen.

Here's a sample of complaints that were posted:

"Im on my THIRD pre (yellow box). Over the last two weeks, i've noticed an increasing amount of play with the screen. I've also noticed that on the left side of the device the two sections are separated enough that i can almost see the innards. When I push them together, you can hear squeaking. On top of that, the device came with a loose power button that doesn't click nearly as firmly as that of other devices."

"I am 100% with you on this one OP. LOVEEEEE WEBOS. HATE HATE HATE the build quality. I'm going in for my THIRD pre this week due to a wobbly screen"

"A little wobble here, a wibble there...I'm not sure the Pre can take a fall from my couch to the carpeted floor."

And then there are the Pre defenders:

"I have had mine since launch day and it's perfect. My wife has had one since yesterday, also perfect."

"I love my Pre. I have had zero problems with it. And I use the phone constantly, sliding the keyboard in and out countless times per day..."

"i dont get these threads. maybe im being arrogant here but my device is flawless and has been since launch. no overheating, battery is meh but i can live with it, no gaps, no wiggle in the kb(yet) and no crashing. no screen cracks, no memory messages."

Palm did not return repeated requests for comment. Sprint, its exclusive carrier, declined to comment and referred inquiries to Palm.

Two analysts contacted by InternetNews.com had nothing but positive things to say about their phones.

"My Pre is solid as a rock. I've been testing it for over a month now and I've not found [problems] to be the case at all. I've been pretty rough on mine and sliding the keyboard in and out quite a bit and have not had that problem," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

"I know a lot of people who have it and they don't have any problems. It could be a bad batch on the line," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with The Enderle Group. "For a new phone, a one percent breakage rate isn't that big a deal but when you sell 300,000 phones it adds up. If it continues then it becomes a problem."