Don’t Be Fooled, The New Palm Smartphone Is Neither Palm Nor A Smartphone [Opinion]

Woman holding tiny smartphone
Joe Readle / Getty Images

Palm fans are used to having their heart broken by companies bearing the Palm name. The first four horsemen of the smartphone race were Nokia, Microsoft, RIM, and Palm. None of them are a going concern any longer. RIM has been rebranded as Blackberry. But another company produces Blackberry phones and just licenses the name.

Palm no longer exists. But the name is still in use. So the first thing you should know about the new Palm smartphone is that it is not Palm in any way you would recognize. This is not the Palm HP purchased and squandered. This is not even WebOS that HTC purchased for their TV division.

The San Francisco startup that purchased the name from TCL did provide one recognizable trait of the beloved Palm of yore. The new Palm smartphone is tiny, reminiscent of the Palm Pixi.

However, the Pixi was not a commercial success nor was it much loved by Palm fans. It was just too small and underpowered to be particularly useful. The new Palm seems to embrace the idea of the phone being too small for everyday use. It is more like a shuttlecraft to your main smartphone’s Enterprise. The Verge puts it this way.

“So to review: it’s a tiny phone to keep you from using your big phone, but it could do all the things your big one can do if you wanted (but you shouldn’t because the whole idea is to get you to be a little less obsessed with your phone). It’s like a phone for your phone. And Steph Curry helped design cases for it so you can strap it to your forearm during workouts. There are Kate Spade clutches for it, too.”

Palm Pixi
  Ethan Miller / Getty Images

While technically a smartphone, it really isn’t. The new Palm is a phone designed to keep you from using your smartphone. Not even Verizon, the exclusive carrier, thinks this phone is a smartphone. It is an add-on device for an existing smartphone. It is billed the same as a smartwatch.

Other than for business reasons, one is challenged to come up with scenarios where a person would put down the smartphone they love to use and pick up this utility phone for basic tasks. It is yet another device to keep charged and updated, and perhaps another attack vector for hackers.

There may be a compelling reason for someone to purchase this phone for $349. But that reason should not be because it is Palm (which it’s not) or because it is a smartphone (which it’s not).