Palm’s Pre smartphone has received a pre-launch boost with a succession of (mostly) favorable reviews.

And, in what must be the ultimate accolade in the highly competitive smartphone market, the device has even been described as a tough competitor to Apple’s iPhone.

The handset, which goes on sale in the US on Saturday, was praised for features such as its removable battery, physical keyboard and the Web OS software.

One of the key features coming in for criticism was the Pre’s apparently poor battery life.

Also mentioned is state of Palm’s app store, which doesn’t have much in the way of applications to offer yet.

That comes as little surprise since the company has yet to make an SDK widely available.

Among the reviewers were Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times.

Sprint,the operator with exclusive US rights to the Pre, even came in for some praise for the speed of its network.

Dan Hesse, the CEO of Sprint, has said it will take around three months for the carrier to know how well the Palm Pre is doing in the market.

He predicted it would sell "like crazy" initially but the real test would come after the initial euphoria.

Palm and Sprint are under intense pressure to succeed – and with Apple expected to announce a new version of the iPhone on Monday, that will be no easy thing.

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