Smartphone Pay As You Go – The only cellphone I’ve ever queued in my life is the original Palm Pre. What can i say? I believe in the company’s approach to design, webOS seems to have a lot of potential and I think the market can use more competition. I bought it, and I was destroyed when HP acquired Palm and ran webOS to the ground.
Now, many years later, the Palm brand is back, and the new management asks us to buy one more time. This pitch is very unusual. This company sells a small $ 350 Verizon smartphone that is supposed to be your regular cellphone companion when you want to disconnect … but not completely. There is little argument that we might all spend too much time on our cellphones, and former Samsung design executives who made Palm do it to bring people out of their bubbles and return to the real world.
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Problems that Palm is trying to deal with are real problems, and people have the right to get a solution. I’m just not sure Palm’s first attempt was really going to work for most people. Of course, it has charm. However, in many cases, it feels very hard to live with it, you will hope you never decide to leave your main phone at home.
The beautiful cellphone we’ve seen in a few years
The screen is very good
Full Android application support
Life Mode really helps make you disconnected
Too small for some people
This is exclusive to Verizon
Battery life is very limited
Limited compatibility with iOS and iMessage
Keyboard is difficult to use
Cue search is almost useless
The Palm seems to be the right device at the right time: it’s a small, secondary smartphone for times when you want to be more present in the real world. For corporate credit, this namesake cellphone is a beautiful and well-built conversation opener. Unfortunately, Palm’s size will make it too difficult for some to use, while some compatibility issues and poorly run features will definitely frustrate others. In the end, Palm’s ambitions were amazing, but his first device felt like a half-baked answer to a serious problem.
So what exactly $ 350 (or about $ 15 per month on the Verizon installment plan) really makes you? Many compromises that are entered into the body are recognized as adorable. For the new Palm credit, the first phone is actually an observer: This is a slender (accidentally) round object that mimics the aesthetic of “river rock” from the Pra Palm. And yes, it’s very small: The Palm is about the size of a credit card, although it’s obviously thicker. Apart from the new and stylish Palm logo (which is easily mistakenly read as “Plam”) and the 12-megapixel camera visible on the back, though, the phone doesn’t pack a lot of visuals that develop. Same applies to physical controls: There is nothing here besides the power button and capacitive touch buttons below the screen. Beyond that, there is a USB-C port along the bottom edge, the SIM tray on the right side and … that’s all.
Palm’s delicate design means nothing distracts you from the 3.3-inch IPS LCD screen. And even though it’s only 720p, this is actually a pretty good little screen. Its small size means we work with a pixel density of around 445PPI. That puts it on the same baseball stadium as a device like the iPhone XS Max. This is also a lot of light, and even with my rapidly aging rubbish eyes, I have never had trouble reading Palm’s small screen under the light of broad daylight. For this small screen, I will call it a plus.
Gallery: Overview of Telephones
There are several things that need to be considered here. Above the screen is a very small 8MP camera for selfies, and there is no microSD slot, so you are stuck with standard 32GB storage. In a way, the best thing about Palm’s body is that you can’t really see it. This is rated IP68 for water and dust resistance, which may seem like an overload until you see it like I did. After all, if there is a phone that I’m drunk falling into a beer, we see it.
Oh, and one more thing to remember: The unusual proportion of Palm means it’s also bound to attract a lot of attention. Of all the phones that I have tested this year, from the new iPhone to the very beautiful Huawei, Palm has so far made most people make multiple shots and ask lots of questions. I will admit it: I was skeptical about all this at first, but the number of people who said that Palm was exactly what they needed made me reconsider things. (For a while, however.)
Before we get into what Palm really wants to use, we need to talk about the role that is intended to be played. You should bring it when you don’t need full power (or interlude) from your main phone. Sidekick devices like this definitely feel like an exaggeration, especially when you consider you have to pay $ 10 per month to use Verizon’s NumberShare service to get your main phone number and run on Palm.
I have seen some people comment on Palm’s potential as a disarmed smartphone for children, but for now it is not possible under Verizon’s rules. From what I see, there is nothing stopping Verizon from selling Palm as a stand-alone telephone; it doesn’t want to. There is a fully functional SIM slot here and you can theoretically throw an existing functional SIM into one, but Verizon won’t really sell one for use like that.
Palm and Verizon also praised the compatibility of mobile phones with Android and iOS, but the latter is somewhat misleading. Yes, you can use NumberShare to push phone calls and messages from iPhone to Palm, but iMessages won’t appear on Palm. Verizon recommends disabling iMessage and using its own Message + as your messaging application, but it won’t fly for most Apple users. There is also cognitive dissonance that comes with switching between iOS and Android regularly. I can’t imagine too many people will be happy because they have to use a totally different platform (with all the specifics and quirks) just to get a few hours of hassle free.
Palm is also not friendly with people who use applications like WhatsApp, which only allows you to enter on one device at a time. This application will work very well installed, but that means you will be out on your main phone. To be fair, switching services back to an original cell phone isn’t the hardest thing to do, but who wants to handle it every time you want to send some messages from Palm when you leave?
It may look light, but the Palm is actually more capable than you expected. That’s largely due to two things: Snapdragon 435 and 3GB of onboard RAM, plus a sleek interface painted on Android 8.0. 435 is not the newest or fastest chipset in Qualcomm’s warehouse, but enough to make everything go well. Sure, Palm can be slow to launch software and it shows a fair share of stuttering when switching between applications that are running, but it’s no worse than other devices in this price range. Given that you are not supposed to use Palm for many things, I would regard this as forgivable sin.
Meanwhile, Palm’s work to make Android Oreo can be used on a small screen is very impressive. Houses are decorated with application icons that grow and shrink as you scroll through the grid (rather reminiscent of the Apple Watch). And fortunately, most phones rely on a single capacitive button for navigation. Instead of forcing you to use a very small nav button, one tap on the button will take you back one level and double tap brings you back to the main screen.
Depending on how big your finger is, actually using this full Android application can be difficult. Not long ago the smartphone screen was relatively small, but major changes in the industry meant that Android almost completely surpassed displays like this. Trying to hit the target of the right touch on the screen sometimes feels like training in madness, and you obviously don’t want to edit your photos or watch Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime. Android as a platform still functions a lot here, even if it’s far from ideal, but a kind of Palm feels incompatible with modern life.
Then again, that’s the point. The Palm is intended to offer enough of what you need without sucking you for hours. With that in mind, the frustration that comes with the small screen almost looks like an asset, another tool to get out of Palm quickly.
Palm has one additional tool to help you stay away from your phone when you don’t need it: Life Mode. This basically does not interfere with steroids. This not only prevents notification avalanches from rolling but also turns off most of Palm’s wireless radio when the screen is off. (I really hope you don’t expect an important call.) Bluetooth and GPS are still functioning when Life Mode is activated, so the Palm is really made for a pretty good pre-winter companion friend, but honestly, it’s not much more useful than DND telephone mode your usual.
And with that, I have quite a lot of good things to say. Palm made a number of strange and small decisions here that made using telephone headaches, some more clear than others. Volume buttons, for example, must be needed on every smartphone. And while Palm is working with people at Fleksy on a keyboard specifically for this pint-sized screen, this partnership doesn’t bring good results. Punching messages with any speed and accuracy is almost impossible, and does not support swipe for typing, which is probably the most elegant solution here. You can always dictate your message with the Google Assistant, I think, but it won’t work in every situation. The message on the phone is very important, and on the Palm, it’s very terrible.
Even unlocking Palm can sometimes be troublesome. In general, you must rely on a PIN, pattern or password, even though you can set Face Unlock after the primary unlock method is set. This is very fast, but because it only relies on image data, it’s not the safest way to protect your cellphone. Oh, and forget about using it in the dark too.
Chris Velazco / Engadget
Strangeness does not end there. In nodding to the old school Palm life (and I mean pre-pre here), you can swipe up from the lock screen to see a list of your applications, shortcuts to the camera and media player, and movement pad where you can trace letters to find the application you are looking for. This is a bit of a fan service for old Palm fans, and it sounds quite intuitive at first. Then you start trying to use the object and realize it’s really half done.
For one, gesture mode can only be accessed from the lock screen. That doesn’t matter unless you activate Face Unlock. If that’s the case, Palm might see your mug and unlock it before you even have the chance to swipe up. The irony is, after finding out how to consistently enter the signal search panel (usually by avoiding my face so that the phone won’t open prematurely), it barely works!
Navigating the vertical line for the letter “I” should have brought up Instagram. Instead, Palm usually offers shortcuts for “Latest” or not at all. Fair enough; maybe it’s my fault. Of the four attempts to draw the capital “I” with a crossbar, the Palm correctly interpreted it once. This system recognizes some letters more accurately, but c’mon: If this letter recognition system is hit or miss, it shouldn’t be here.
And then there is a camera.
Really, the best thing I can say about Palm’s 12 megapixel main camera is that the camera is there and in fact, taking photos. Photos taken in environments that are bright enough can be skipped and will be carried out in an emergency (especially after some editing on Instagram). Even with bright lighting, Palm seems to have a lot of focus problems. Almost every photo I take from people displays a soft face, a dead face on the frame. Palm photos tend to be blown up often, and often look blurry and unclear. And selfies? Well, they’re pretty lousy too, even though I’m more forgiving of the lackluster front camera. Here’s the problem: People bring cellphones to take as many photos as they do to place them on the internet. Secondary phones that are meant to replace your main temporary while you are out trying to live your life must have a better camera, period.
As you might expect from a cellphone this small, the life of a Palm battery can be a problem. The company says this phone is intended for use from seven to eight hours, but that is only if you use Palm on the right and start. If you have sat and used Palm for browsing the web and streaming video like you do on a regular smartphone, you will be lucky if the battery can last up to three hours. In other cases, this is not acceptable, but it seems unfair to hold this to the same standard as other cellphones. Just know the limitations. You can potentially get through one day full of this, but only if you rely on the radio-kill Life Mode to get you disconnected most of the time.
As much as I want to love this absurd little thing, Palm feels like a half-baked solution to a serious problem. There are arguments for actively choosing to disconnect, and using a more limited second cellphone might help some people do it. The problem is, the second device must make the right compromise. Even a peeled phone will give you an effective tool when you need it and fade gracefully into the background when you’re done. That’s where Palm falls short. The purpose of this company is admirable, but a telephone intended to help improve the quality of your life should not be frustrating.
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