As a device to help you become less dependant on tech, the Palm Phone does its job well. We really appreciate that Palm is trying it’s best to make society less like tech-dependent zombies, and we also love how feckin’ cute it is.
Cute design, super portable, helps you detox from tech.
Battery life could be better, accurate typing is difficult.
IF YOU'RE FAMILIAR with the brand Palm, you probably still associate it with personal digital assistants (PDAs) of yesteryear, more specifically back in the late '90s and early '00s.
Well, in more recent times, Palm (the brand, not the original company) has attempted to make a comeback. Hell-bent on being relevant again, Palm now arrives in the form of a "credit card-sized" smartphone of the same name, but with a focus on helping you become less attached to your phone.
Last year, when the Palm Phone first hit the market, many reviewers down-rated the device, which acts as a companion to your current smartphone. Who in their right mind wants to carry two phones around with them?
However, now, the latest edition of the Palm Phone can function competently on its own thanks to a SIM slot. It's now marketing itself as a device which provides the functionality of a smartphone with the convenience of a smartwatch, or as the company itself puts it: "a compact but powerful device for active lifestyles, digital minimalists, and people who live their lives outside of the screen".
But is there a demand for such a product? That remains to be seen. Here is our review so you can decide for yourself.
When you first see the Palm Phone in the flesh, the first thing you'll think is that it looks like a tiny iPhone. Not that that's a bad thing; we bloody love it.
It measures just 96.5mm tall and 50.5mm wide, which means it fits comfortably in your hand. However, despite its tiny size, it's not as slim as a credit card as Palm's marketing might have you believe, and at 10mm thick, it's just as chunky as a regular-sized smartphone.
Made from Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back, alongside an aluminium frame, it also looks rather premium, despite its shrunken size. There's IP68 dust/water resistant up to 1m for 30 mins, and it's also super light at just 62g, adding to its super cute factor. It also means you can barely feel it in your pocket.
Overall, we're massive fans of the design, and you won't be able to stop yourself looking at it for the few first days of use. You'll also love how portable it is; it can be purchased with an array of accessories such as a case with a lanyard strap so you can loop it around your head, and an armband so you can take it on runs with you, or to the gym.
On the screen-front, the Palm Phone packs a 3.3in LCD display with a 1280x720 pixel resolution and a 16:9 aspect ratio. Due to its tiny size, this small resolution doesn't look too bad. It could be better, but for this size, it looks equivalent to what you'd expect a full HD resolution to look like on your average mid-range smartphone.
That's not to say that this is a bad display; it's bright, vibrant, and accurate, producing a rather impressive 445ppi, which isn't so bad for such a constrained form factor.
Touch commands on the Palm Phone prove very responsive, although being so tiny - using your thumb to swipe around as you would normally can prove tricky. But Palm has optimised the software to ensure app icons etc are much bigger and easier to access from the smaller screen.
The display is definitely not something to marvel over but it sure does the job for such a small and portable device.
Operating System and Performance
The Palm Phone is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 435 processor, an Adreno 505 GPU and 3GB RAM. This lower-end mid-range processor chip comprises a 1.4GHz octa-core offering using the older 28nm process, meaning it's both slower and less efficient compared to modern chips.
On the other hand: if you're buying this phone, it's not for its performance. You're not looking to purchase the Palm Phone in hope that it's good enough for gaming. A phone that's been made to help you detach from your all singing, all dancing smartphone wouldn't - and shouldn't - offer blazingly powerful processor capabilities. That would just be wasted here. For its intended use (checking social media, messaging and emails), Palm works a treat. It doesn't promise to offer the world, and so it shouldn't be expected.
The Palm Phone runs on Android version 8.1 Oreo. You can download any of the regular apps from the Google Play Store, too, if you want to. It is, however, set up a little different to your standard Android phone. Instead of having various home screens and an app drawer, the device shows you the list of installed apps as soon as you unlock it. The idea behind this setup is not just so it's easier to navigate on the smaller screen, but it also minimises the number of distractions.
So how does this smaller display real-estate affect the way you flip between and use apps? Well, for everyday apps such as Chrome and Gmail, you'll find these apps can be operated easily with one hand, ensuring you can run Google search or compose emails with the thumb of the hand holding the phone.
On the flipside, it's size can be frustrating at times, especially if your eyesight isn't the strongest. You'll probably find yourself bringing the phone right up to your face to read the text, before realising that a lot of what you've written has typos. But again, the idea with the Palm Phone isn't to be typing endless reels of text; it's more about having the option to send messages and search the web from time to time.
The biggest software feature on the Palm Phone, however, is Life Mode. This is essentially an ultra-powered Do Not Disturb mode that puts the phone into airplane mode whenever the screen isn't on, meaning no calls, texts, Instagram notifications or, well, anything you could conceivably want a phone for. It can be configured to still notify you of certain notifications, but this goes against its intention to keep you from constantly checking your phone, unless necessary.
Storage, connectivity, and camera
In terms of storage, the Palm Phone has a 32GB of internal storage and also a microSD card slot, expandable up to 256GB, which is quite impressive for a device of this size. It's charged up via USB-C and includes all the bog standard connectivity options such as Bluetooth and WiFi.
As you'd expect, the camera on the Palm Phone isn't anything groundbreaking, but it's still better than we were expecting. It includes a 12MP rear-facing cam and an 8MP snapper on the front. Taking photos is a little more tricky on the Palm Phone than it is on a larger smartphone, of course, but photos captured are surprisingly decent.
Such a small chassis leaves little space for very much of anything, including the battery. You get just 800mAh, which isn't much compared to most flagship smartphones, and this does affect the Palm Phone's battery life a little more than we'd like.
The device lasts around a day or so with everyday use. We were kind of hoping it would be better for a device this small, especially considering it's all about using it less. But even when you do use it less, it still barely manages to last to the following day. At least when you do charge the Palm Phone, it's re-juiced again in no time (about an hour) thanks to the tiny battery, so a portable battery bank, for example, will fill it numerous times over.
Battery life is vastly improved with Life Mode is on, though; the Palm will last a full day without Life Mode switched on, but with it enabled, it will last the night too.
The new Palm Phone gets a thumbs up from us. It's never going to be able to compete with bigger, full-size flagships, or even mid-range smartphones, but it was never meant to. The idea is that it's smaller, less capable and thus can aid you in becoming less dependent on technology and more engaged in real life. And if this is done by making your digital companion frustratingly small, more difficult to multitask on, and less absorbing, then the Palm Phone does its job well.
It does everything you need a phone to do, too - heck, you can even call someone on it. We really appreciate that Palm Phone is trying it's best to make society less like tech-dependent zombies, and we also love how feckin' cute it is.
If you need your phone with you all the time and use it for doing everything, including work, then the Palm Phone probably isn't for you. In this case, perhaps it's better used as a replacement phone to take to events, festivals, things like that.
The Palm Phone is available in the UK for a price of £350 up-front, or from £31 per month on contract with Vodafone, who is the exclusive Palm provider in Blighty for the first half of 2019. In the US, it's Verizon. µ
Cute design, super portable, helps you detox from tech.
Battery life, accurate typing is difficult.