back to article Finally. The palm-sized Palm phone is back. And it will, er, save you from your real smartphone

The Palm brand has returned with a bizarre concept: a tiny touchscreen "ghost" phone that mirrors the contents of your real smartphone – and won’t do much without one. The 3.3-inch full touchscreen promises the “full Android experience.” should you want it – or as much of the experience as you can get with a Qualcomm …

  1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    I got a Youtube ad for suppositories...

    I'm not sure if that was supposed to happen, but it's definitely painted the device with a rather shitty brush.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I got a Youtube ad for suppositories...

      "I'm not sure if that was supposed to happen, but it's definitely painted the device with a rather shitty brush."

      No, that is the new improved AI working in conjunction with the devices upgraded sensors....

      You need more bran in your diet and the onboard calendar has scheduled your for a colonoscopy.

      1. Big John Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: I got a Youtube ad for suppositories...

        > "No, that is the new improved AI working in conjunction with the devices upgraded sensors...."

        If my "smartphone" is really smart, it won't try to pull that crap on me...

    2. Youngone Silver badge
      1. Friendly Neighbourhood Coder Dan

        Re: I found this:

        That article says that an irritating phone you don't want to use is a new concept - but what about that Nokia that had Snake instead of Whatsapp?

        Maybe one day we will have mobiles with rotary dials which need coins to make calls, do not have your Contacts stored on them, and only work if you tie them to a wall.

        What a time to be alive!

  2. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    My pub phone dream is close to reality. Just needs a little less fruit and to not to be tied to some yank network.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      You can get...

      $4 phones (Not sure the UK price, not risked looking on Ebay/Amazon/Ali Express).

      You could easily do disposable* Pub phones for that price.

      *Please return address with a postage stamp on the back (it's small enough ;) ), to the local recycling centre if we want to be green.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      @Phil. Have a look at the "prison specials" on Amazon.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        There are lots of suitable handsets around. The issue is that as far as we know, no UK network operator makes it easy to have two devices on the same number (Apple Watch LTE eSIM aside).

    3. Gordan

      I totally want one, finally a worthy replacement for the ZTE Blade (Orange San Francisco).

      I don't understand the recent fascination with phablets, 6" size of a phone is a design fault, not a feature.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Not all bad

        I don't understand the recent fascination with phablets, 6" size of a phone is a design fault, not a feature.

        @Gordan, because people come in all sizes, having a phone to match that variety is a good thing. I don't know about others, but I shop all my phones at least in part based on whether my fingers can hit the tiny, tiny buttons. Having said that, put a strap on this thing and I would have a nice chunky watch.

        “Life Mode” will free you from constant distractions, such as the non-stop stream of notifications. Unlike in a conventional Flight Mode, you can choose what gets through, and when.

        This is a selling point that I hope gets taken much further. Application management on Android phones has long been an irritant to me. It would be so nice if there was a console where you could manage access rights, notifications, et cetera for different apps all in one go, by group or otherwise instead of the current base setup where you have to go into each app's settings and select each bit. Ugh! Kudos to Palm for getting this bit right.

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge

        If you use your phone as a kindle more than as a phone, a large screen is better.

        If you use your phone to read & send email more than as a phone, a large screen is better.

        If you use your phone to catch up on Social Media while on the bus, a large screen is better.

        If you use your phone a lot and desire a huge battery, a large screen allows for more real space.

        If you use your phone as a phone but don't want to always put your glasses on first, a large screen is better.

        Only the first affects me, but there are many reasons that people desire large phones with large screens.

        1. KenBW2

          Not all of us want big screen phones

          If you want to be able to reach the whole screen with your thumb without having to jiggle it about to reach across, a 4.5" screen is better

          It's all well and good saying they all come in a range of sizes, but they don't anymore. Sony seem to be the only holdouts for a decent sub-5" screen

  3. NanoMeter

    A phone from the past

    It's a bit like the return to the Android phones of the late 2000s, more than 8 years ago. Screen size 3.3-4.0 inch was typical.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: A phone from the past

      Xperia Mini Pro FTW !!!

      1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

        Re: A phone from the past

        Wish I'd never got rid of mine. Waaayyyy past time for that form factor to make a comeback.

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: A phone from the past

        Xperia Ray for me, why not a full screen phone with that size, maybe make it thinner and double battery life?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: A phone from the past

      I just use a dumb phone anyway. Fits nicely in my front pocket.

      Phone in a phone - is that like 'Matryoshka' dolls?

  4. This is my handle
    WTF?

    Bizarre

    It's not 1 April, so I don't get it. Things Palm did well:

    1) Run hundreds of free or nearly free apps.

    If it's an Android, this should do that.

    2)Keep a handy copy of all your immediately essential data (contacts, calendar, to-do...) *offline*.

    Check.

    3)Sync copies of that data to a "real computer" (desktop, laptop) with nothing more expensive or tethered than an occasional serial connection.

    Fail.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bizarre

      Seems it'll upset you to learn that Nokia phones now run Android and are no longer made by Nokia, and Blackberry phones run Android and aren't made by Blackberry.

      In other news, Macs are now Intel,

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Bizarre

        In other news, Macs are now Intel

        ..for the moment.

        I'm sure it won't be long before they run on in-house ARM designs. Why pay Intel for something that the Apple Cortex chips can do?

        Think of the price reduction^W^W BOM profit!

    2. oiseau Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bizarre

      Hello:

      3) Sync copies of that data to a "real computer" (desktop, laptop) with nothing more expensive or tethered than an occasional serial connection.

      All great and much missed but it's this last virtue where Palm really excelled.

      All the POS phones I have ever had (Sony, Samsung are you reading this?) failed miserably in that department with the sole exception of the neat Motorola StarTac, albeit with a software/serial connector combo you paid through your nose for.

      The Blackberry 7.x series do not count as, incredibly enough, it actually did not come with address-book software for the desktop and left you to depend on MS-Outlook. 8^/

      It's been eons since I purchased my first Palm and still use one (IIIxe) with the J-Pilot software under Linux and the Palm Desktop software in my netbook.

      At one time I even used it to send short/basic e-mail (dial-up days) with my StarTac till the carrier decided it was game over and had to pay data fees.

      A.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Bizarre

        I suggest your ire might be better directed at Google or the ASOP foundation than at Sony and Samsung.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Bizarre

          No. I basically have two completely independent sets of personal data management apps on my phone, ex factory: one by Google, one by Samsung. Which one do you think supports syncing to a non-connected, offline desktop app? That's right, neither. All they let you do is look at what you have on your phone - while it's plugged in.

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Overdue idea, price too high

    I was using a 3.5 inch Android phone a couple of years back - £35 from Sainsbury's - as a stop gap. It did calls and WhatsApp just fine, and I was never worried if I dropped it.

    The other small phone the Reg has featured recently, the Punkt, is also priced too highly when Banggood.com have a 3G clone for about £30.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Overdue idea, price too high

      All my Android phones are ~3.5", were EOL bargains, so under £20 on the High Street. Perfectly good for what I want to do.

      I'm sure, if someone put their mind to it, they could have one phone mirroring whatever is on another. I'm not sure though how they'd wrangle £300+ out of anyone for having done that.

  6. Piro

    Neutered

    Huh.

    A nice small phone, but without a removable SIM, locked to Verizon.

    Way to castrate it.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Neutered

      But it's not a phone.

      Think of it more as an old-time hard wired extension off a huge chunky 'master phone' with big buttons on it.

      It has no functionality without the main device.

      A ' 107 plan phone' for the new miilennials

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Neutered

        It can have full functionality, it's just that it's currently only being sold on a Number Sharing eSIM service. You don't need to have your main mobile phone in the same room, or even turned on, in order to use this as an Android mobile phone.

        Still, the sticking point appears to be price. That's the common view on other tech site threads.

        This was the topic of a Reg discussion the other week - technically it's possible for UK networks to issue multiple SIMs for the same number (and a Reg reader confirmed a German network does just that - commonly used for a mobile and a car phone). Such a service would open up a whole menagerie of range of cheap and cheerful phones for use as secondary 'pub handsets'.

  7. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Coat

    'The 3.3-inch full touchscreen promises the “full Android experience.” '

    Promise me a Google-free Android experience and I'm in...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Here you go.

      https://source.android.com/

      Many phones can run this already, it's 100% Android and 0% Google.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        AOSP is made from 100% open-sourced AOSP and 0% Google. *

        * AOSP have been made in a facility alongside other products containing Google. Traces of location services, DNS resolution services, and other Google products or services may be found. We may not be held responsible for any issues resulting from Google allergies or data collection.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It’s made by TCL"

    Oh, great.

    Will it also inject Facebook's Graph API into all the system level apps after an "update" like all the other TCL devices?

    (Sorry, disgruntled TCL owner here)

  9. Thoguht Silver badge

    Yo dawg I herd you like phones

    So we put a little phone next to yo phone so you can phone your phone when you phone.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Yo dawg I herd you like phones

      Actually, a lot of the mini "card" phones sold from China do have a Bluetooth 'page my main phone' feature, akin to Tile keyrings or many a connected watch.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. jgarbo
      Devil

      Re: Yo dawg I herd you like phones

      Yeah, but where's the phone that phones my big phone's little phone to talk to my other really small phone? Oh, let's call the whole thing off..

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Nothing like trashing a product

    before you have even tried it.

    That said, I expect nothing less from this cesspool of clickbait, personal agendas and sponsored reporting.

    1. Davidmb

      Nice Try, "Fred West"

      You must be new here.

    2. Rafael #872397
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nothing like trashing a product

      Ah. El Reg Commentards. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Nothing like trashing a product

        My name's Guybrush Threepwood, and I want to be a pirate!

        1. HandleAlreadyTaken

          Re: Nothing like trashing a product

          You look more like a flooring inspector.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Nothing like trashing a product

      But I don't see how a device like this brings enough value to even be worth trying it. It introduces several disadvantages over just using your phone directly, and I'm having a hard time seeing even a single advantage.

      What advantages do you see?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Nothing like trashing a product

        The advantage is that you can just grab one of two handsets as you leave the house, and still be contactable on the same number - without faffing around swapping your SIM. Say you use a 5.5" pricey phone during the day, but just want a small cheap phone on a night out for calls, texts and WhatsApp.

        The concept is sound. Where this falls down is that many people would want their second handset to be far cheaper than the £300 being asked for here - especially as basic Android phones can be had for around £30.

        Give it time. Offering a second SIM for a single number might be a way for network operators to distinguish themselves in the market. Phones are becoming both more expensive and cheaper than ever before, so why not use a different handset for different situations?

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Nothing like trashing a product

          But that makes little sense for (as you point out) the price tag. Particularly since you can do the same thing right now with a much cheaper phone anyway.

    4. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Nothing like trashing a product

      @Fred West, this from someone whose handle is the name of a serial torturer and killer.

  11. James 51 Silver badge

    Sounds like a great companion device for a Gemini 4G. Could move the main sim into it and use this to take calls without a bluetooth headset. Bit expensive though and I’d want the battery to be removable.

  12. mix

    WTAF?

    I don't get it and I love gadgets. Who will actually buy one of these?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: WTAF?

      At this price, not many people judging by responses here and on Arstechnica.

      However, if it were at a 'don't really care if I lose or break it price' ( £15 - £30) the concept of having a second phone on the same number has wide appeal.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: WTAF?

      I don't get the use case either. Apparently it does ALL of the exact same things as your main phone, except... on a smaller screen? And using the same phone number...? But what can I do with it that I can't with the main one?

      If I wanted a second phone, I could just get a small new one for $30 or so or just re-commission an older one I still have and charge (now only for alarm clock purposes, but it's working perfectly fine nonetheless...). And bollocks to the "less distractions" angle - it looks like it has all the exact same sources of distraction, and besides there's nothing preventing one to set up one's main phone to distract less. WTF?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: WTAF?

        It's not that it does things that your main phone doesn't, it is that this concept could allow you to take a compact cheap phone on a night out on the piss, or on a muddy mountain bike ride, whilst leaving your bulky and pricey do-it-all phone safely at home, yet still be contactable on the same number.

        The concept is sound, but the asking price for this handset (and possibly the tariff for the eSIM) is far too high.

  13. Andy 97

    They have a product development team and they came-up with THIS?

  14. Mr Humbug

    Unihertz

    Apart from the paired SIM (which is within the gift of your mobile network) didn't Unihertz already do this at a much more reasonable price last year?

    https://www.unihertz.com/spec.html

    2.45" screen, so even smaller and £99 on Amazon

    1. PeterM42
      Thumb Up

      Re: Unihertz

      Yep. Unihertz Jelly Pro - cracking little phone (if you have good eyesight!)

      One downside - it doesn't support OTG connection. Otherwise BRILLIANT little device.

      2 x nanoSIMs. Takes a 256Gb MicroSD card, bluetooth, Android 7.0 Nougat OS and all functions that a smartphone should have. Earphone jack, removable battery, unlocked, 4G.

  15. thomas k

    No Zoolander mention?!

    I call prior art.

  16. Chronos Silver badge

    All that's old...

    ...is new again. Tech progress is a big circle. Once it comes around again, you don't quite notice that it's USP is what you had 20 years ago (Nokia 8210? Ericsson T68i?). So it is with this.

    My $DEITY, it's a small 'phone that works for making calls! Why did nobody ever think of this before?

    The thing that differentiated Palm from the rest was PalmOS. Not WebOS, which was the Prè's downfall, but good old low res PalmOS with Grafiti. This is just another Mars bar reboot with Android shoehorned into it which, for using the virtual koybred (best I can do on a touch screen), will be bloody useless.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: All that's old...

      Ericsson T39, so small even the president could carry one.

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: All that's old...

        Or the Nokia 8210

        Both were teeny but great phones

  17. JohnFen Silver badge

    Wha?

    I honestly don't see what value this brings, or what use case this would satisfy. Is anyone here interested in this device? If so, what interests you about it?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wha?

      The use case is that you can just grab one of two handsets as you leave the house, and still be contactable on the same number - without faffing around swapping your SIM. Say you use a 5.5" pricey phone during the day, but just want to carry a small cheap phone on a night out or muddy bike ride for calls, texts and WhatsApp.

      However, this particular handset is just too pricey for this use case.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Wha?

        "this particular handset is just too pricey for this use case."

        Exactly, which means it doesn't address this use case. If people want to fulfill the use case you describe, they've been able to for years, using phones that cost under $50 (and if your goal is to have a phone that you don't mind losing or breaking, cost is the most important factor). So I remain confused as to what this device is supposed to do for me.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Wha?

        A second SIM with the same number is entirely a network service, if they offer it.

        (Does WhatsApp like being registered on two phones at the same time for the same number?)

  18. Dexter
    Facepalm

    Why not just buy a smaller phone?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Because it would have a different number, making it harder for people to contact you.

      This concept doesn't require a specialist phone though; some network operators offer a second SIM for the same number*, but none in the UK do, save for the Apple Watch's eSIM.

      *A fellow commentard has noted that a German telco has offered second SIMs, usually for use in car phones.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "Because it would have a different number, making it harder for people to contact you."

        Most (all?) US carriers will let you have the same number on multiple phones. I assumed this was globally true, but apparently not. I never thought I'd actually see an area where US cell service is better than the service in other industrialized nations, but here we are!

        Regardless, as you point out, you don't need this particular device to do this -- the ability doesn't depend on the phone(s) involved, it depends on what your carrier allows. If this is the main selling point for the TCL phone, then there's really no reason to buy the TCL phone.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Face

    Palm

  21. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    I'm pleased to see Palm's first phone layer which will be followed by more smaller and smaller devices which can be stacked like a pyramid stratified as ever simplified notification layers and the final product will be a small LED bulb which will switch off when you're out of signal range.

  22. bish

    It’s turtles all the way down.

    Gone but not forgotten.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, kind of like a green screen terminal for your "mainframe" phone. That'll be a forward step then.

  24. joshimitsu

    I'm looking for a small second phone

    This would be perfect if it had a sim slot, smaller than a standard smartphone but with more features than a 3310i type of phone.

  25. Arklight

    Pointless

    They should just rename it the facepalm for all the wasted effort.

  26. Dr_N Silver badge

    Asus Padfone Mini...

    Was a better concept. Just needed a smaller handset.

  27. Christopher Rogers

    I went with the smartwatch idea. It really does the job of this miniphone while being strapped to my wrist and not ever in my road.

    I have a Galaxy S9+ so i suppose im in the ridiculous phone category, but the watch takes care of checking notifications, answering or rejecting calls, navigation commands (used when walking), controlling music i listen to via my bluetooth headphones and quick replies to messages

    oh, and tap to pay and workout tracking (read knows where i went for a walk).

    A second phone is just daft.

    1. Psycho Flump

      Out of interest, what watch are you using? Asking because currently I'm running a Note 9 with a second SIM that I'd like to promote to my primary phone.

      Currently my primary phone is an iPhone SE purely for the pocketability and Apple Watch. The Wear OS watches I've looked at either don't have Google Pay or look like a reject prop from a Borg cosplay at a Star Trek convention.

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