Remember Palm, the almost-king of the early smartphone race? Well, it’s back…sorta. And with a very unique, very unusual new handset.
First – the resurrection of Palm. This is not the Palm of old – the new device shares none of that old engineering team that brought us, for example, the Palm Pre.
Instead, it’s a new device from a San Francisco start up that has simply purchased the rights to the brand from TCL for its own new ideas.
Secondly, the phone itself. It’s as much a phone for your phone, as it is a phone for you.
Palm by name, palm-sized by nature
At a mere 50 x 97mm in size with a thickness of 7.4mm, it’s a tiny thing – like a few credit cards stacked on top of each other. In an age of giant screen phablets as the new standard, Palm’s approach is different – it’s designed to be a second phone, with a 3.3-inch LCD display packing a high-res 445 ppi.
But, and this is where things are really unusual, not a standalone second phone. Being sold exclusively in the US by the Verizon network, the provider is selling it in the same way as it approaches wearables, as a $349.99 add-on.
So, though the new Palm has its own data plan, it also piggy-backs off your main smartphone, sharing the network’s NumberShare tool to make for a single number across devices, and the Verizon Message+ app to sync your texts across both devices too.
Running a forked version of Android 8.1, it has a number of unique software features including a gesture-based single virtual button for navigation along its bottom, a scrolling hexagonal-pattern based apps grid, and a search system that lets you scribble letters onto the screen in one of the few ways this phone resembles the original Palm line up..
With Android underpinning it then, it’s a better fit for accompanying another Android phone and its shared services than an iPhone, though it’d ostensibly work with both.
Who’s it for?
Trying to figure out exactly who this is for seems challenging, but Palm sees a niche for those that want a device that lets them escape the constant notifications of their own handset, without cutting out the mod cons.
So there’s a dedicated ‘Life Mode’ (which to be honest sounds just like an airplane mode, really) that turns on a do not disturb-like setting and limits connectivity options, doubling therefore as a batter saving option. With an eight-hour normal lifespan per charge, it’s going to be needed.
Elsewhere there’s Gorilla Glass 3, 32GB storage, 3GB RAM, IP68 water and dust protection, 12 and 8MP rear and front cameras respectively and, despite the act it’s intended as a respite from your daily phone hell, access to all the Android apps you’ve come to expect.
A curio indeed then. And, at least while the Verizon exclusivity lasts, likely to sell just as well as the last few Palms that have come before it.