In short: A new smartphone has launched under the "Palm" brand, from Palm Ventures Group. This new smartphone is simply called "Palm" and it's essentially a smaller smartphone that uses the phone number from your larger, main smartphone. It basically works like a smartwatch would work on your Verizon account. By the way, this is a Verizon exclusive, and at this point, it's not coming to other carriers. The Palm is a $349 smartphone with a 3.3-inch display, and just one button on the side. Palm did not even include a volume rocker on the side here, which might be a bit surprising, but you can still adjust the volume in the notification shade.
The Palm is not a very powerful smartphone, as you might expect from a phone with a 3.3-inch display and can actually be hidden in your hand. It has a HD display, which means 1280x720 resolution. It's also one of the very few smartphones to launch in 2018 with a 16:9 aspect ratio, instead of a weird 18:9 or taller aspect ratio display. Inside, there is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chipset, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. There is also a very, very small battery included, which is about 800mAh in capacity. This phone isn't meant to be your daily driver, and since it doesn't actually have its own phone number, it technically can't be your daily driver. It's meant to be more of a "weekend phone". Where you can leave your larger smartphone, like a Galaxy Note 9, at home, and just take this phone out with you. The Palm is running on Android 8.1 Oreo, which is not the latest version of Android, but in a phone this size, that likely doesn't matter much. There is a skin on the phone, but from what we can tell, it's not a heavy skin. The home screen is an array of app icons, that you can scroll through, and it looks similar to the Apple Watch. With 32GB of storage, you can actually install a decent amount of apps, but you'll likely only want the necessities installed here.
Background: Before Apple and Google took off in the smartphone space, and really before iOS and Android even were announced, Palm was a big name in the smartphone world. It was up there with BlackBerry. Palm ran webOS, which both were ultimately purchased by HP and then killed off shortly after HP released the TouchPad in 2011, which ended up selling in a fire sale the very next year. This was because no one was really buying the TouchPad. Afterwards, HP ended up killing off webOS and Palm, cancelling Palm's upcoming hardware. webOS finally was sold to LG, who is now using it on its smart TVs. Meanwhile the Palm trademark was sold to TCL in 2014, who then sold the trademark to what is now Palm Ventures Group, with a couple of ex-Samsung designers heading it up, Dennis Miloseski and Howard Nuk. After Palm and webOS basically shut down, we started seeing parts of webOS moving to other platforms, including Android. In fact, Google's vice president of design, Matias Duarte, came from webOS. And that's why we are starting to see many of webOS' features appear in Android.
In 2018, smartphones are getting bigger and bigger. Which makes it a real head scratcher why Palm Ventures Group decided to launch a smartphone that has such a small display. Miloseski and Nuk stated that they are looking to create a new category in the mobile space. And the category that they wanted to create was a phone that you could use for on-the-go activities. Say going to the gym, camping, hiking, etc. Instead of bringing a big smartphone for activities like that, you can bring the smaller Palm and not worry about it falling out of your pocket, or weighing you down. But you also won't miss out on phone calls, text messages and such. This is still going to be a tough sell, seeing as people can't just buy this smartphone to replace their current smartphone, it would be in addition to their current one. And with smartphones rising in price, it's unlikely that many people would be willing to spend another $349 on a separate device.
Some of the big investors in Palm Ventures Group include TCL (big surprise, considering they sold the trademark to Palm Ventures Group), and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Having a big-time investor that can also serve as an endorser of the new product is a win-win for both Curry and Palm. Curry has already been posting on his social media about the device, using the "Live in the Moment" tagline that Palm is using to market the device. With Curry on-board here for Palm, it doesn't mean that this smartphone is going to be a popular device, but it does mean that it's going to get more attention than it normally would have.
Impact: This is the first Palm-branded smartphone running Android, and it's the first smartphone built by Palm Ventures Group. So this is definitely a first-generation product and is going to have some issues. It's also not going to appeal to everyone. This is a very niche smartphone, and will definitely not be a big seller for Palm. But it is a rather interesting device to say the least, especially as the first device under a new brand. Sure it has the nostalgia effect working for it, but that only goes so far. Just ask TCL and BlackBerry Mobile. As mentioned already, the phone is going to be available from Verizon only. It's actually listed in the "Connected Devices" section on Verizon's website. We do know that it will be $349, but it's not clear if Verizon will offer this with Verizon EDGE, where you can finance it over 24 months. It's also unclear when it will actually become available. If you do want to buy the Palm, you will need to add it to your account as a connected device, which is going to cost $10 per month, and it will also use your accounts' data plan. You can find out more information about the Palm from Verizon's website at the link below.