When Palm came back from the dead last year with what I have dubbed as the “baby phone,” even though that cute little device was far from perfect, I couldn’t help but appreciate Palm’s attempt at making something that allowed people to stay connected but didn’t constantly beg for your attention.
However, the Palm did have one major issue that held the phone back from wider adoption: It was only available as a companion device without an option to function as a standalone phone.
[Editor’s Note: Yes we know this isn’t currently available in Australia, but who doesn’t love the Palm phone?]
That meant in order to even buy Palm’s phone, you already had to own a primary device, which seemed like a nonsensical restriction placed upon Palm by Verizon, the exclusive carrier for Palm devices in the U.S. But now, that restriction has been lifted, meaning you can purchase the Palm as a standalone phone for $200.
This change now opens the Palm up to a wider range of customers, such as parents who might want to give their children a small cellular device for emergencies or light use throughout the day. But the real upgrade is that now the Palm can also serve as a true replacement for people who simply don’t want or need a glass brick with a big colourful screen that’s always calling them to check in on Twitter, Instagram, or any other digital time waster continually begging for your gaze.
However, for those actually considering buying a Palm, I feel that it’s important to remind people what they might be getting into. That’s because even though the Palm runs a full (though heavily customised) version of Android 8 with support for almost all of your normal apps, it’s really not designed to be something you pull out regularly to play games or spend hours scrolling through your feeds.
As you’d expect from a tiny phone with an even tinier 8cm display, the Palm’s 800 mAh battery is quite minuscule as well, which gives it about 50 to 70 per cent shorter battery life compared to most “normal” phones. And while you can do things like play Pokemon Go on the Palm, with its Snapdragon 435 processor, performance isn’t exactly spectacular either.
But in a lot of ways, that’s kind of the point. The Palm was designed so that you can do everything that a regular phone can do, but in a package that encourages you to keep the phone stashed away in a pocket, purse, or elsewhere, while you live your life — only glancing at it occasionally when you want to check in on things.
The Palm is divisive, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but finally making it available to people who might not want to keep track of two devices is how it should have been all along. Better late than never, right?