Palm seeks redemption for its tiny smartphone, now a $199 stand-alone handset

Palm’s tiny smartphone was poorly received when it landed in 2018, but now the company is having a second stab at generating some interest in the diminutive device.

Through Verizon, Palm is now offering it as a stand-alone phone for an April-only price of just $199, representing a hefty saving of $150.

The 3.3-inch Palm handset launched last year to more of a raspberry than a fanfare. Digital Trends, for example, was only able to muster half a star out of five in a review that criticized it for its poor hardware, confused raison d’être, and high price, though Thursday’s update is a clear effort to address some of these issues.

Part of the problem was that before now, the Palm could only operate as a companion phone (an option still available through Verizon). Yes, that meant you needed another handset to use it, leaving you with two phones to manage instead of one.

As a companion phone, the suggestion was that its light weight and tiny screen would actually discourage you from using it, giving you an opportunity to take a break from technology and therefore making it ideal for distraction-free weekend trips and nights out. Its launch as a stand-alone device changes all that, though the question now is whether you’d really want to have such a small phone as your main handset.

In a further effort to garner attention, the company has responded to early criticisms of the phone’s hardware by improving the cameras with enhanced HDR, color balance, and low light performance, and also by updating its software to extend the battery life beyond the original eight hours. But, disappointingly, it offers no specifics on this, with the company saying only that you’ll get “some extra usage time.”

“These updates are already available on the standalone version of Palm and will be rolled out to companion devices later this month,” Palm said in a post announcing the new version of the phone.

If you decide to go ahead and purchase the Palm, be careful not to lose it. The phone’s small size means it’ll be more easily misplaced than, say, the massive 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max, though judging by some of the Palm’s initial reviews, not knowing where it is may be no bad thing.

On a more positive note, we can only hope that future generations of the Palm — if there are any — will offer spec bumps of such significance that the device actually becomes a viable option for people on the hunt for a tiny phone that can do the basics well.

But in the meantime, you could do worse than check out this entertainingly frank takedown of the original Palm, written soon after its launch last year.


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