Let the “battle of the smart phones” begin, said Philip Elmer-DeWitt in Fortune. Sprint announced Tuesday that it would release the “long-awaited” Palm Pre on June 6, two days before Apple’s big annual developers’ conference and at exactly the same price—$199, after rebates on a two-year contract—as Apple’s iPhone. The showdown will be the biggest challenge yet to iPhone’s dominance among touchscreen smart phones.

This may well prove to be the “phonepocalypse,” said Dan Moren in Macworld. “The Pre’s specs are very similar to the entry-level iPhone’s, with 8 GB of onboard storage,” Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, a 3.1-inch touchscreen, and a 3.1 megapixel camera. But on that other big question—price—there’s a catch. That $199 price is after a $100 rebate, and doesn’t include the $70 Touchstone recharging system, “one of the Pre’s flashiest features.”

Scheduling the Pre’s launch on the eve of Apple’s show “reeks of hubris,” said John Biggs in CrunchGear, so “the Palm Pre better be as amazing as I think it is.” If it isn’t, and its operating system turns out to be as “wonky” as the ones on every other iPhone wannabe, everybody at Palm should “clean out their desks and go home,” because the company will never live it down.