Palm Makes a Comeback With New Mini Smartphone

October 15, 2018
Updated 1mo ago

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

By Hope King

The Palm brand seems to be so valuable that people can’t help but resurrect it.

The latest incarnation from the 26-year-old computing brand launched Monday in the form of a credit card-sized mobile device.

Co-founders Dennis Miloseski and Howard Nuk stopped by last week to show me the product. And while the original Palm devices from the 90s aimed to create a new category of mobile computing, the new Palm aims to create a new category of computing as a fashion accessory.

The device is essentially a mini smartphone. The 2- by 3.8-inch Android product has a glass body, 3.3-inch LCD display, rear and front cameras (with face detection), GPS, gyro sensor, and cellular connectivity. But despite its shell and guts, the Palm only works as a phone if you have a Verizon ($VZ) number — syncing calls, notifications, and messages through the carrier’s NumberShare service.

The design is undeniably cute and sleek. The user interface is simple, and the raison d’être is well thought out.

As smartphones get bigger, they become more useful — for gaming, productivity, and media consumption. At the same time, big screens can become a constant reminder that work or distraction is just a swipe away. And despite smartphone companies trying to shrink the physical size of phones, giving us more screen space, a hunk of glass and metal doesn’t quite fit in pockets, small purses, or workout armbands.

I know. Cringe. These are first-world problems. But the Palm tries to solve them. The small screen limits the ability (or at least desire) to do a lot of work or scroll through a lot of YouTube and Instagram feeds. The smaller physical size also means it’s not as much of a pain to stow and carry.

I was definitely impressed with the design and would be interested in getting one if I were on Verizon’s network.

The Palm costs $349, or $299 with a 2-year contract with Verizon. Using Verizon’s NumberShare costs $10 a month to enable data sharing. (An Apple ($AAPL) Watch with cellular starts at $499.)

The Palm goes on sale in November.