“Significantly?”

That is often the expression I get after I whip out the brand new Palm telephone, one of many tiniest Android telephones launched in latest reminiscence. This Three.Three-inch machine has a spec sheet nearer to a smartwatch than a smartphone, and it appears to be like extra like a prop from a comedy skit slightly than a severe connectivity product. There have been telephones with Three.Three-inch shows prior to now, however they have not actually been mixed with the extra compact design developments of in the present day. The result’s one thing ridiculously, eye-catchingly small. The Palm telephone appears to be like like a joke.

Wait, “Palm telephone”? That Palm? Yep, this telephone, which known as “Palm” and from the corporate “Palm” (so the Palm Palm?) is a newly fashioned zombie model made out of the ashes of the legendary Palm Inc, the exact same firm that created the Palm Pilot, the Palm Treo, and WebOS. After bombing out within the smartphone market circa 2010 and promoting to HP, Chinese language agency TCL purchased the rights to Palm again in 2014 and introduced plans to resurrect the corporate in 2015. The corpse of Palm remained nonetheless for a number of years, however the appropriate mixture of a full moon, or lightning strike, or one thing roused the corporate again to life simply final month. Zombie Palm’s first product is that this tiny, Verizon-exclusive smartphone with a not-so-tiny price ticket of $350.

Design and construct high quality

Palm positively did one thing proper with the design of the Palm telephone. Earlier than the logic heart of the mind kicks in and asks “What am I supposed to make use of this for?” individuals’s preliminary impression of the Palm telephone is often amusement. You will at all times get a smile, snort, or eye roll whenever you present somebody the Palm telephone for the primary time. It is simply so cute and tiny and totally different. You look ridiculous utilizing it in public, and you may often get bizarre appears to be like from individuals as they little doubt surprise, “what the heck is that factor?”

SPECS AT A GLANCE: Palm Palm

SCREEN
1280×720 Three.Three-inch LCD

(445ppi, 16:9 facet ratio)

OS
Android eight.1

CPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 SoC  (Eight 1.4GHz Cortex A53 cores)

RAM
3GB

GPU
Adreno 505

STORAGE
32GB

NETWORKING
802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth four.2, GPS

PORTS
USB 2.zero Kind-C

CAMERA
12MP rear digicam, 8MP entrance digicam

SIZE
50.6×96.6×7.4mm

WEIGHT
62.5 grams

BATTERY
800mAh

STARTING PRICE
$350

OTHER PERKS
IP68 water resistance

It is arduous to speak simply how small the telephone is from a spec sheet, however this is slightly train for these of you at house: seize your pockets, pull out a bank card, and maintain it as if it had been a smartphone. That is about how huge the Palm telephone is.

Now maintain the bank card in each arms, stick each thumbs on the entrance, and faux you are typing on a tiny QWERTY keyboard. Are your arms cramping up but? Having a tough time imagining typing on a keyboard that small? You are now getting a good suggestion of what to anticipate.

The three.Three-inch show does not sound that small on a spec sheet: in any case, the first-gen iPhone had a Three.5-inch show, and the primary Android telephone (the T-Cellular G1/HTC Dream) had a Three.2-inch show, so it does not sound that outlandish. These early smartphones solely had a Three:2 facet ratio. In order that they had been a lot wider than the Palm telephone’s 16:9 show. So, overlook in regards to the display screen measurement—you have most likely by no means held a smartphone this skinny.

The 1280×720 show means the Palm telephone is packing 445 pixels per inch. The dense, tiny show appears to be like nice, though it’s only an LCD. The back and front are lined with Gorilla Glass, with an aluminum body peeking out from between the 2 glass panels. The glass again is a fingerprint magnet, and, whereas often I might complain about how fragile glass backs are, I am truthfully unsure the Palm telephone weighs sufficient to crack the glass panel when dropped.

The entrance adheres to lots of the regular smartphone conventions—you get rounded show corners, a speaker/earpiece combo on prime, and an 8MP front-facing digicam. For navigation you get the choice of displaying the world’s tiniest on-screen navigation buttons or utilizing the single capacitive navigation button that sits just under the display screen. This one button tries to tug triple-duty and canopy the three fundamental navigation options: a single faucet will return, a double faucet will open the house display screen, and an extended press will open latest apps. I by no means discovered it to be even near useable.

The aluminum sides have solely an influence button, SIM tray, a pair of microphones, and a USB-C port. There is no quantity rocker in any respect. As a substitute, you must pull down the Fast Settings panel and modify the quantity slider the identical manner you’d modify display screen brightness. The shortage of a quantity rocker is fairly annoying—you’ll be able to’t simply modify the quantity of music or a name, and you’ll’t change the quantity of a video whereas nonetheless watching the video. It additionally makes a telephone reviewer’s life troublesome, since you’ll be able to’t take screenshots simply. There is a button within the Fast Settings to take a screenshot, however that merely does not work for a lot of screens.

The again has only a single 12MP digicam and flash and nothing else. And not using a fingerprint reader, you will should log in with a PIN, sample, or password, otherwise you’ll should belief the questionably safe 2D face-unlock powered solely by the front-facing digicam.

Apart from the dearth of a fingerprint reader and NFC, the Palm telephone is a full-featured Android machine with all of the LTE connectivity, telephony, and app entry you’d count on from a normal-size smartphone. Oddly although, Verizon will not allow you to purchase the telephone and activate it. The corporate requires the Palm telephone to be a secondary machine in your Verizon account, the place it is going to share a telephone quantity and SMS entry along with your main smartphone. One other oddity: the telephone has what’s clearly a SIM slot on the facet, however it does not open.

So… what are you supposed to make use of this for?

The Palm telephone may be cute to have a look at and enjoyable to point out off to individuals, however as soon as you have made all of the compulsory Zoolander references and gotten over the novelty of a tiny mobile phone, you will understand the Palm telephone is not actually good at something. And it’s actually costly. What are you supposed to make use of this for? Is it a new-age iPod? A smartwatch various? A smaller telephone to take in your health actions? It is not likely good at any of these items.

First, the $350 price ticket places it firmly in smartwatch territory, which is a large downside for justifying plenty of Palm’s supposed use instances. You may get an Apple Watch Collection Three with mobile entry for $380. It’s also possible to get an LTE-equipped Put on OS or Samsung look ahead to round this value.

Palm calls this telephone a “wearable” and sells a wide range of instances, armbands, and lanyards designed for simple portability, however nothing is extra moveable than a smartwatch. So, in the event you’re trying to journey gentle, simply get the smaller machine.

The Palm telephone is not a fantastic music participant because of the dearth of a headphone jack and bodily quantity rocker. Certain, you’ll be able to pair Bluetooth headphones to it, however you may also simply pair Bluetooth headphones to your smartwatch, which goes to be smaller and extra moveable.

The Palm telephone can also’t beat a smartwatch for health actions, since a watch goes to be lighter and simpler to hold. Plus, a watch will do heart-rate monitoring. Perhaps you wish to carry an actual telephone, since you hate the dearth of a keyboard on a smartwatch and do not wish to communicate to your machine in public—however the Palm telephone is simply too tiny to comfortably sort on. The physique is so skinny which you could’t maintain it with two arms, and the keyboard on this skinny display screen is so small fingertip presses about 4 keyboard letters directly. You are counting on autocorrect a lot that you just may as effectively use Put on OS’ tiny keyboard.

NFC

Plus, a smartwatch has yet another main function that the Palm telephone does not help: NFC. In case you’re out for a jog, you’ll be able to run into a store and purchase a drink along with your smartwatch. You’ll be able to’t make a cost with a Palm telephone.

I may form of perceive the Palm telephone if it had been dramatically cheaper, as form of a smartwatch stand-in for individuals who do not wish to spend the cash on smartwatch. However when it is precisely the identical value as a smartwatch—simply purchase a smartwatch. In case your purpose is hyper-portable performance, you get much more performance in an much more moveable type issue with a sensible watch. The Palm telephone merely is not good at something, and it lacks the cost and health monitoring of a smartwatch.

The Software program

The Palm telephone comes with a teeny-tiny model of Android eight.1. Once more, we have seen Android telephones with Three.Three-inch screens earlier than, however the 16:9 facet ratio makes this show a lot skinnier than any of these older, first-gen Android telephones. The whopping 720p decision additionally serves to make every little thing a lot smaller than it was on these early 480×320 units. Some issues, like textual content, do a wonderful job of scaling, however the on-screen navigation buttons are clearly too small, and the display screen simply is not large sufficient to help a good QWERTY keyboard. Some buttons, just like the “Clear all” button on the backside of the notification panel, are so small that more often than not I am unable to press them on the primary strive.

This construct of Android eight.1 has been skinned with a darkish theme in most locations. It appears to be like good and makes the LCD mix in with the bezel of the telephone, however it could be lots higher—and extra energy environment friendly—with the zero-power, true blacks of an OLED show. The spotlight colours of this darkish theme are actually funky, ranging between pink and neon inexperienced for issues like switches, buttons, and icons.

The largest change from the conventional Android format is the house display screen, which does away with the same old app drawer and multi-page house display screen for a single scrolling checklist of apps. The format appears to be like just like the Apple Watch’s child brother, with a honeycomb grid of app icons that develop greater as they scroll into view. There is no app drawer and no approach to even set a wallpaper—only a black display screen with scrolling icons. It is a full-featured Android telephone, however the easy house display screen actually makes the Palm telephone really feel extra like a restricted media machine than a do-it-all smartphone. In case you do not prefer it, putting in one thing like Nova Launcher and getting a traditional house display screen again is straightforward sufficient.

Palm Graffiti

The opposite huge addition to Android—I suppose—is the Palm Graffiti-inspired lock-screen function. In case you swipe up from the underside of the lock display screen, you will launch an app-search interface that makes use of drawing-text enter. Identical to on Palm’s Graffiti system, the bottom-third of the display screen is devoted to letter drawing, with an icon in every nook of the drawing space. Every letter you draw will slender the checklist down as you spell out an app title, after which you’ll be able to faucet on a outcome to launch an app.

I recognize the throwback to Palm’s previous writing system, however this app-search interface was by no means helpful. Due to the time it takes to attract a letter and await the system to acknowledge it, scrolling by means of the app checklist for what you need was at all times a lot sooner. The enter does not even help Palm’s graffiti gestures, and there is no approach to see what you are presently typing or a approach to erase a letter. The app search is nothing however a poorly applied gimmick.

The remainder of the Android bits are proper the place you’d count on them, simply actually tiny. You’ll be able to pull down the notification panel from the highest and develop the Fast Settings panel, which additionally comprises the essential quantity controls, since there aren’t any buttons. You’ll be able to double-press the bodily energy button to open the Google Assistant and communicate a command. You’ll be able to flip by means of an itty-bitty settings display screen, open a tiny webpage in Chrome, or set up a tiny app by means of the Play Retailer. Latest Apps can be the conventional vertical cascade of playing cards that you’d count on from an Android eight machine. Every part is right here, simply darkish, which is ok.

Usually I might write in regards to the machine’s OS replace prospects at this level, however Palm—the brand new zombie Palm—is a brand-new firm with out an replace historical past. Issues aren’t wanting good to date, although. First, Android eight is an previous model of Android—the most recent model is Android 9, and it is November, and this telephone continues to be on the “August” safety patch. That is three months old-fashioned. I will guess the replace help is not going to be good.

Efficiency

Talking of issues which are “not good,” let’s speak efficiency! The Palm telephone struggles to do nearly every little thing, which is anticipated contemplating the Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 SoC is close to the underside of Qualcomm’s lineup. You get eight Cortex A53 cores and an Adreno 505 GPU, all constructed on a 28nm manufacturing course of. Whereas that is not nice, the Palm telephone nonetheless performs worse than the specs and benchmarks would lead you to consider. I bumped into all types of issues like GFXBench crashing in between benchmarks and Chrome randomly closing.

The battery life is terrible. The Palm telephone simply has the worst battery efficiency of any telephone I’ve ever examined. It is the worst rating we have ever gotten in our battery checks, and through heavy utilization, describing the battery proportion as a minute-by-minute countdown timer just isn’t an exaggeration.

The battery life is the actual killer for this telephone. Even when the $350 value does not matter to you, the battery life is so poor it makes the telephone unfit for any use case. The Palm telephone appears like it’s at all times getting ready to loss of life, and that makes it an untrustworthy product to carry with you as your solely type of communication or media.

Palm’s band-aid answer to the horrible battery life is to incorporate a “Life Mode” swap that can flip off Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity when the display screen is off, which will definitely enhance standby battery life.

Itemizing picture by Ron Amadeo

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