Palm is re-releasing its tiny companion phone as a standalone unit with slightly improved camera and battery life. I was a fierce supporter of the concept but now I think they should just kill Palm again.
On paper, the Palm Pepito is a dream phone for anyone who misses the years of the small phone as evangelized by Steve Jobs. From the first iPhone to the SE, these phones had the ideal size for one-hand operation, with every icon within reach of your thumb. The SE — with its bright 4-inch display, adequate processor, decent camera, and acceptable battery life — was for me the golden standard, even after Apple killed it.
So, when the Palm 3.3-inch screen came out, I thought that this was a great idea. Someone is at last pushing back against the never-ending race to get the biggest phones. Back then, anything larger than my iPhone 6’s 4.7 inches seemed too much. A 6-inch phone was just absolutely ridiculous.
And then my iPhone died beyond repair and I decided to try a Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 for a week — a phone with a whopping 6.4-inch full-screen display. It had a great price, great specs, and the screen had no bloody notch (in all honesty, if Apple have had the iPhone XS without a notch, I would have considered getting one every while the Mix 3 is half the price with better specs).
My first thought was “wow, this is big.” The switch from iOS to Android after a decade using only iPhones wasn’t traumatic at all. Then something unexpected happened: a few hours after setting it up, I was just enjoying it. The “wow, this is big” had disappeared. The day after I didn’t even notice its size. It just worked so nicely. It fit in my jacket pocket and even in my skinny 511s. Plus I could see a lot better both because of the size and the OLED. I could even work on the phone on the go with surprising ease. Plus, I love Retroarch and the Gameboy Advance emulation.
But I digress. The fact is that the tiny Palm now seems to me just as ridiculous as all the reviews said. Even while this new $199 version doesn’t require a primary phone to operate, it is still ridiculous. The company says that the phone now has a slightly improved battery life and a camera that “includes HDR, color balance, and low light performance.” (These are software-only enhancement, though, so take these claims with a grain of salt.)
Palm argues that the tiny device will be ideal for both calling, occasional texting, and working out. But if you want to have that, just get the Apple Watch Series 4 LTE, a device that is actually Cupertinos’ small phone. Or, if you don’t want to spend that kind of dough, just grab any low end activity tracking band and keep using your current phone. Only idiots take phone calls while working out, anyway.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to have a slightly smaller phone than the Mi Mix 3. In fact, the alleged 5.42-inch full screen iPhone that’s rumored to be released on 2020 seems to hit the sweet spot. If you took the iPhone SE and make it full screen without a notch, you will end with a 5.38-inch display. A 5.42-inch iPhone wouldn’t be that much bigger. A small package with big enough display. And iI want smaller package, I would wait for a foldable RAZR (not for $1500, though).
But this tiny Palm? No, thank you. It’s neither ultra-portable nor big enough. They may as well kill Palm again and save themselves some investment money and tears, because it will never fly.
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Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.