The companion phone
Phone too big for your pocket or bag? Apparently you need another, smaller phone to go with it
Before the smartphone came the PDA. A small, smartphone-sized device with very limited connectivity, a PDA – or personal digital assistant – held your notes, your appointments, and some atrocious handwriting recognition capabilities that made them at best interesting and at worse obtuse when it came to actually inputting information. The most prominent of these was the Palm Pilot; now, Palm is back. But it’s not producing PDAs, it’s producing phones. Sort of.
First, we should be clear: it’s not really Palm. It’s a San Francisco startup, who’ve licensed the Palm name from current owner TCL. And the product, the Palm Phone, isn’t really a phone in its own right. Currently planned to be sold only as an add-on for existing phone plans, the credit card-sized Palm Phone (priced in the US at $350) is a second handset – it shares the same number as your existing phone, and it’s designed to be something you take with you when your existing phone is too big to carry.
That sounds barmy, and it is, although there are some practical benefits. You could take the tiny one-button phone out running or on a workout. You could tuck it into a clutch bag or your pocket to avoid carrying that £1,200 iPhone with you on an evening out.
While it runs Android, and has access to the full suite of Android apps – albeit on a tiny screen – you could install an absolutely minimal number of things on it; if you don’t want to be bothered by email or Twitter, if all you want is a phone, you can leave the big boy at home. Switch on the phone’s Life Mode, which disables all radios while the screen is switched off, and you’ll be able to make it last much longer than its listed eight-hour lifespan and absolutely ensure you won’t be bothered. We don’t know when, or if, the Palm Phone will hit UK shelves, or if its initially limited US release – tied to Verizon subscriptions – will be the only way to get hold of it. For some, we’d imagine the Palm Phone would make a perfect everyday mobile. For some, that second phone idea is something that’ll change their lives. For others, it’ll be a beacon of modern waste and excess.