Palm is back… but not really. In November you’ll be able to buy a new smartphone called the Palm, and it’s designed to evoke some nostalgia for an era of smartphones past. But it’s not the Palm you knew.
The Palm features a small screen in an age of big-screened smartphones, and it’ll sell for $350 at a time when competitors are selling phones for as much as a thousand dollars (or more).
It’ll also be a Verizon exclusive at launch.
Before there were smartphones, there were personal digital assistants, and Palm was one of the biggest players in PDA space. When BlackBerry was the dominant player in smartphones, Palm developed the Palm Treo with a physical keyboard. When Apple and Google shifted the focus to phones with touchscreen displays, Palm developed webOS and introduce the Palm Pre.
But while webOS was ahead of its time in some ways, Palm struggled and HP eventually bought the company, released its own webOS tablet… and failed spectacularly.
Now a California-based startup has acquired the Palm name and partnered with Chinese electronics giant TCL to manufacture new Palm-branded devices. TCL also makes most of the Android-powered BlackBerry-branded phones that are sold outside of India these days.
Anyway, the new Palm measures “about the size of a credit card,” at 3.8″ x 2″ and the phone has a 3.3 inch LCD display with 445 pixels per inch, a rounded design that feels reminiscent of the Palm Pre, and Android 8.1 with a custom user interface and app launcher that’s optimized for small screens (the user interface feels very Apple Watch-like).
Engadget’s Chris Velazco notes that it can be a little tough to type using an on-screen keyboard on a phone this small, and some apps (like the Google Play Store) are clearly not optimized for 3.3 inch displays. But keep in mind that the original iPhone had a 3.5 inch screen, and there were plenty of folks who claimed the typing experience on that phone was better than on Android devices with larger screens at the time. So it’s possible that the new Palm phone is just in need of a better software keyboard optimized for the small display (or maybe gesture-based typing is easier than tapping individual keys?)
The phone fatures a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 12MP rear camera and 8MP front-facing camera.
It’s rate IP68 for dust and water resistance, supports face unlock and Google Assistant, and has a Palm Grafiti-like feature that lets you scribble the first letter of an app or action to search for the appropriate item.
Thee Palm supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, 4G LTE, and GPS and it has a “non-removable nano SIM.”
Palm will offer the phone in titanium and gold colors.
One of the most surprising things about this phone probably shouldn’t actually be a surprise: it has a tiny 800 mAh battery.
On the one hand, I’m not sure how the company would have crammed a larger battery into a phone this small. On the other hand, Palm is only promising about 8 hours of battery life.
You can extend your run time to 24-hours by disabling the wireless radios entirely by toggling “Life Mode,” but then you can’t use the phone to make calls, go online, or use GPS… so you might as well just turn your phone off altogether when you’re not using it.
via The Verge
I think this is an interesting device. The price is a high, for sure, but then there are smartwatches with much smaller screens being sold for the same or more so I suppose they can demand whatever they think people will pay for it. This I see as a great companion device to a phablet. I personally don’t carry my phone around while I go around my home. I don’t WANT to carry it while I’m outside, but generally do because running inside for it or missing important calls are deal breakers. This in my opinion, is an answer. A smartwatch would work too, of course, but this is an alternative or even additional to that, in case you’re not interested in talking into your watch or having your conversation overheard. The only issue here is price. Why this thing is $350 with what it currently has inside is beyond me. If Amazon can sell a 7 or 8 inch tablet for $60/70 then there’s no way in heck this should be $350. But hey, I’m sure some company will quickly be inspired by this and sell it for cheaper soon enough. I’d definitely be game to buy, at a better price point.
There is no competition in this space and there should be. I really like small phones. The Verizon-only is a bummer.
If the screen is 16:9 it would have to have a 4″ screen to have as wide keyboard as the 3.5″ iPhone 3GS, this 3.3″ screen is muuuch thinner. Why can’t Android phone makers replicate the Iphone SE but with tiny bezels? That would be small, comfortable thumb-operable (unlike all 4+ inch phones), and actually usable. Keep the 3.5mm jack, all the necessary sensors and performance, and a decent battery by making it thicker. That would be perfect for me! Not this practically useless phone. Same goes for the Jelly that wouldn’t last a day either.
I used a Pre 3 for years and was happy with it, unfortunately this is not a worthy replacement.
It’s following the niche trend of very small android smartphones.
There was a Kickstater for something even smaller a year ago or so (the Jelly), which was dual-SIM at least (couldn’t do without this features now).
I would still like to find a good ~4″ dual SIM phone. Since over 2 years I’m using a Pixi 4 4″, and it’s fine because I can accommodate to the very low end.
If it broke now, I guess I would buy a Nokia 1, which is reasonably bigger.
Where to start? First, it only has wifi n, not ac. Then, the processor is 435, meaning closer to the lower end with only 3/32 gb memory combination and costs 350. Meanwhile, you can get an honor 8x which has 4 times the internal storage, 1 gb more of ram and a faster processor and still have some cash left for a case and protective film. To me, this is DOA. The only thing going for it is the IP68 certification.
Isn’t the Honor 8x nearly twice the size of this though? Sort of defeats the purpose.
“The only thing going for it is the IP68 certification.”
The entire selling point of this thing is its size. If you want a remotely modern Android phone with a screen under ~4.5″ then this is almost the only game in town. If you don’t want that then there are better choices. Other considerations are beside the point.
It is flawed though. Like the Jelly Pro it fails on battery life. I feel it needs wireless charging too get it through the day. I would have hoped battery life would be better than with older phones but the OS bloat seems to have made matters worse rather than better.
The UniHertz Atom would have been a better comparison.
It’s not you, Brad, but the whole tech journalist scene reporting on the story. Really, where should I find out if it’s a 16:9 or a 18:9, or whatever the screen ratio is for this device?
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