HP has a long history of using "time bomb" components that die way before the machine becomes technologically obsolete.
From what i've seen, the Pre+/Pixi+/Pre2 have rock-solid electronics, even as the plastic casing, keyboard and slider are a bit on the cheap side. The shells are cheap, but durable, not crummy, while the slider mechanism was under-built and loosens over time.
But it's not to say that there are no lemons from that era. There are plenty of phones that shipped with bad but usable chips, which gave those phones unique "personalities" as the OS ran into unhandled exceptions. Like the brand new Pre2 that imfallen_angel bought for last Christmas and ended up having to use Nodoze to keep the phone's screen from coming on every 30 seconds.
The HP-era phones on the other hand have a much more solid hand feel, the slider is snappy, doesn't jiggle or "Oreo" and the Veer's shell itself is very nice. The Pre3 also makes a good first impression. But the quality emphasis is reversed, with the internals being of a cheaper grade of the same chips. Graphics subsystem failure is the number one reason why a Veer eventually gets "totaled" and replaced. In the the "best" case, the cable connecting the screen becomes loose or develops metal fatigue and breaks off, in the worst case, the graphics chip, where ever it is, self-destructs, and you're left with a black screen and a faint glow of backlight. At least a couple of Pre3's have failed in the same way, like the one ka1 was working on a couple of weeks ago.
To explain this a little better, during the chip manufacturing process, silicon is is etched with hydrofluoric acid, and before that, a laser is used to project the proper pattern onto the chip, selectively burning off a non-reactive layer that masks off some parts of the pattern. As precisely as the process is controlled, the result is still unpredictable, and chips have to be graded post-manufacture. Same with LEDs, since diodes from the same batch will inevitably vary in brightness and color temperature.
This is the reason why Intel sold Pentium and Celeron processors. The two are based off of an identical design, but the lower-priced Celerons were manufactured with a slightly worn piece of equipment (mask?) and had to be clocked lower to maintain the same level of reliability as the more perfect Pentiums.
What HP and Chinese knockoff manufacturers alike have done, is buying chips with etching errors and imperfections that over time, under heat and stress turn into "short circuits". The chip manufacturers and OEMs know how much useful life a component has before it "implodes" and the OEMs tend to buy the ones that can make it through the warranty period. The worse components are written off as a manufacturing loss and quietly end up on a gray market in China to be used in blatantly counterfeit goods.
To return to the subject of Pre3, from what we've found out, based on a handful of facts and informal surveys, is that there were some impeccable "launch day" Pre3's that were supposed to make it into online reviews, and there was also a batch of some crummy ones that were supposed to go on sale later. An age-old trick to fool the customer.
The latter category has a crumbling screen bezel that flakes off in pieces, even with the gentlest use, something that may have been caused by poor temperature control during the injection-molding process. My guess is that the resin was overheated while they were melting and mixing the pellets and then cooled down to below optimal temperature by the time it went to the molds. The resulting polymer chains were not long and uniform in every direction, but instead like mozzarella cheese, with "strings" and layers, with 70-80% less durability
Sorry to bore you with the details, though i hope you have enjoyed the explanation
I just stand by my words, having seen how HP does business. By their standards, "chip rot" and planned obsolescence are acceptable, regardless of the reputation it has earned them in the tech community (and beyond). I personally draw the line at that kind of hardware, unless it's "free", or nearly so.