If you’re interested in adding a tiny, more minimalist smartphone to your phone service, you may want to consider getting the Palm, a US$349 device coming to Verizon that shares the phone number of your main cell phone. It’s meant as an alternative to your bigger device for weekend jaunts or anytime you want to stay connected—but not too connected.
The Palm, which runs Android 8.1, has every single Google Play app at its disposal. Basically, it does all the same things as your Android, but it’s much smaller than your bulky phone. It’s geared towards those who want fewer distractions. The Verge describes it as “a sidecar for your phone.” Similar to a smartwatch, Verizon is touting it as an add-on to consumers’ existing plans. It cannot be purchased separately.
Is the idea of having a second phone a good one? My significant other uses two phones—a Samsung Note 9 alongside an old-fashioned LG Cosmos 2, a slide phone that he uses predominantly for texting. So, yes, there’s a need out there (at least for some people), who want convenience over technology.
The benefits to a second, smaller phone are that it’s more portable, and you can keep it from getting certain notifications, such as work emails. It’s less distracting but still convenient.
The Palm is 50 x 97 millimetres and is just slightly larger than a credit card, albeit a bit thicker. It fits nicely in the palm of your hand (see what I did there) as well as in your pocket.
The phone’s single button is for power, and it does not have a headphone jack. There is a single USB-C port for charging. The screen is 3.3 inches with a 445-PPI LCD display. The Palm takes “passable” photos, according to The Verge, which tested the device.
It’s not particularly powerful, but it performs well enough on 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. To access the apps, you must vertically scroll up and down. It does not have a traditional home screen and app list like most Android phones.
A startup from San Francisco bought the Palm from TCL in 2017, and the phone barely resembles the original device. The company aimed to reinvent the Palm—not resuscitate it. Thus, it looks and acts little like the original.
The Palm contains what is dubbed “Life Mode,” allowing users to enable Do Not Disturb and Low Battery settings. The action turns everything off, including notifications and cellular and wi-fi radios so you won’t be interrupted by incoming phone calls.
Currently, only Verizon customers can use it, and it features several preloaded Verizon apps. It’s messaging app is notable because it syncs text messages across multiple phones that have the same phone number. The Palm is intended for use with another Android device, not an iPhone (which can’t receive iMessages on it).
NBA star Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors invested in the project. He will be involved in accessories for the device as well as marketing.