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Remote erase bricks Palm Pre

Well I no longer have a Palm Pre – until tomorrow, anyway…

Why? I was forced to activate my Pre after purchase while at the Sprint store, which robbed me from enjoying (and documenting) the “first run” experience. To remedy this and out of curiosity, I tried doing a remote erase instead of using the reset functionality on the phone.

Unfortunately, this bricked my Pre instead of resetting it!

A Palm representative kindly picked up my Pre, and is reflashing it overnight. As much as I’m impressed with Palm making a house call, perhaps the “Erase Device” button above should be relabeled “Disable Device”?

I’m pretty bummed to be without my Pre within 12 hours of picking it up :/

Update 1: I got my Pre back in working order! Just to clarify, the Palm representative that helped me was not a customer service person, but someone I networked with while waiting in line to purchase my Pre…

Update 2: Here’s a video of me telling Ewan MacLeod all about my crazy Palm Pre adventure.


experiences, Palm, Pre

16 thoughts on “Remote erase bricks Palm Pre Leave a comment

  1. If I’m not mistaken, this feature is intended to ‘brick’ the Pre – in the event your Pre is stolen you can totally disable the device using Palm’s web function.

    The phone has a reset function as apart of the WebOS. But I would certainly concede Palm needs to better explain what the ‘Erase Device’ function does.

    • @Craig, most other devices I’ve used don’t brick when activating remote erase – they are erased and “disabled” until you enter some sort of security code.

      Also it’s generally possible to flash them back to life, albeit devoid of user information. I spent 3 hours on the phone with both Sprint and Palm yesterday.

      They asked to try reflashing my Pre using the online tools at but it never worked (I tried both on Mac and PC).

  2. when you do a remote Erase Device it does seem to brick the Pre, however you can fix this. plug the Charger(computer or whatever)into the phone. Remove the battery (with it still plugged in). A large “?” will appear. Put the battery back in and wait. it will power back up as usual and you’ll be starting from scratch.

  3. Out of curiosity, were you able to activate the phone through the ESN swap on Sprint’s website?

      • Ah, okay. I’m hoping to find out soon if the online ESN swap tool is usable for the Pre, since that is how I plan on handling it when I get mine in a few months.

  4. So I did the same thing to mine before googling. Bad idea. Bricked it as well. The fix is easy though. Pull the battery out and let it sit for a couple minutes. When you plug the battery back in the Palm logo should not appear automatically. Hold down the Volume Up key and press the power button. This puts the phone in USB mode. You can then connect it to a machine running webOS Doctor ( and it will recognize the phone. Mine is in the middle of upgrading now. Has the charge the battery first (SUPRISE!), but I’m hopeful I’m on the path back to working.

    Hope this helps others who make this mistake.

  5. Augman your the Man! I was so ticked that I did this and tried everything!

    Pulling the battery out when it was pluged in, waiting for the ? mark, puttin the battery back in work perfect.

    Thanks a million!

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