Many tech companies have created minimalist phones with limited functionality—and limited success—ostensibly to try and pull consumers from the depths of smartphone dependency. The latest product in this trend, the “Palm” phone, is the size of a credit card, exclusively tied to Verizon, and has NBA star Stephen Curry involved as both an investor and a pitchman.
The new Palm comes after the rise and fall of the original brand. The first Palm handheld devices came out in 1996, and the iconic Palm Pilot personal digital-assistance devices launched one year later. HP bought the brand in 2011, but killed it shortly thereafter because of poor sales and stiff competition from brands like Apple. Chinese electronics company TCL bought the Palm trademark in 2014, and then announced that a comeback was imminent. Then, ex-Samsung design executives Dennis Miloseski and Howard Nuk purchased the trademark rights to Palm in 2016, and thus, the new Palm was born.
“This is not nostalgia play, this is a reinvention of the brand,” Miloseski told USA Today. “We thought it was important to do justice to the Palm name.”
At 50 x 97 millimeters, the reinvented Palm’s new phone is so small that you can fit three Palms next to one another across an iPhone XS Max. “Life Mode” switches off all radios, like wi-fi and Bluetooth, turns off notifications, and preserves battery. But if you want, the Palm can also stream music and video, take photos for social media, and run any Android app.
So, essentially: Palm offers a small phone to take you away from the distractions of your main phone, but it has most of the functionalities of your main phone, should you wish to use them. The new product is being marketed as more of an accessory, such as a smartwatch, instead of a second phone entirely.
Another thing: The Palm can only be purchased, starting in November, through Verizon, which is selling the product for a reported $349.99. But you also have to pay $10 a month for Verizon’s NumberShare service that copies your existing phone number to the Palm.
It’s still unclear if consumers will react positively to the Palm, but Curry, the Golden State Warriors ace shooter, has been sporting the Palm in a sleek armband to listen to music as he works out. Curry is both an investor in Palm and a brand ambassador. When Curry first heard about the new phone, it immediately reminded him of his father’s Palm Pilot, Fast Company reports, and he was so drawn by Palm’s pitch that he almost missed a flight. But if Curry’s recent tweet about the product is anything to go by, he won’t be ditching his own iPhone anytime soon.