Legendary PDA pioneer Palm is back as a zombie brand, and it’s launching a tiny smartphone.
If you recall, Palm, creator of the Palm Pilot and WebOS, bombed out of the smartphone market and was purchased by HP. Palm died at HP after a short run of tablets and smartphones, and eventually Chinese smartphone company TCL snatched up the rights to the Palm brand in 2014, and things have been quiet since then. You might know TCL from running that other smartphone zombie brand, Blackberry.
Today, TCL’s Palm presents itself as actual new company with new co-founders, a new logo, and an office in San Francisco. The company is launching the, uh, “Palm” phone (Do we call it the Palm Palm?) and it’s taking the “Palm” name literally, with a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The Palm Palm has a practically microscopic 3.3-inch display, and it measures just 96.6mm tall by 50.6mm wide, which is close to the size of a credit card. Palm is pitching the Palm as a “companion” device to your main smartphone, allowing you to leave your big phone behind and bring the Palm in a wallet, on a lanyard, or in any tiny pocket.
This tiny phone also comes with a really tiny spec sheet. You’re getting a 3.3-inch 1280×720 display with a respectable 445ppi. This is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 SoC (that’s eight Cortex A53 cores, usually at 1.4GHz) 3GB of RAM, and an 800mAh battery. There’s 32GB of storage, a 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, IP68 dust and water resistance, USB-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and LTE.
The body of the phone is aluminum and comes with silver or gold accents. There’s no fingerprint reader, but there is a face-unlock system that runs off the single front camera.
The phone runs a customized build of Android 8.1 Oreo. The home screen uses a cluster of icons that looks like the Apple Watch. You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the “gesture pad,” a drawing interface that is doing its best to recall memories of Palm’s “Graffiti” typing system. The gesture pad isn’t a keyboard, though; it’s an app search function. Just draw the first letter of the app you want. Typing on something this small is probably a challenge, but voice input is an option, too. You can also double-press a side button to bring up the Google Assistant.
The device is exclusive to Verizon, and with Verizon NumberShare, this phone can get your SMS messages and calls along with your main phone. It looks like the goal is to sell a lot of cases with this phone. The press images show a lanyard, a small purse from Kate Spade, an armband, and a lanyard.
The Palm costs $ 349.99 and will be out in November.