The Latest Attempt at Fighting Smartphone Addiction is a Phone for Your Phone

Palm heard that people like phones, so they made a phone for your phone so you can use your phone instead of using your phone.

This really is the concept of Palm’s new “ultra-mobile” smartphone, and yes, it does sound ridiculous. I was ready to dismiss the idea out of hand, but I’m starting to see its appeal as I read more about it.

Think about all the times you were busy, but your phone wouldn’t stop blowing up with notifications. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a secondary phone that filtered out the noise and only alerted you to the important stuff?

This isn’t the same “Palm” you remember from days past. They share the name, but that’s only because this San Francisco-based startup bought the rights from TCL last year. There’s no other connection between this Palm and the one that influenced our modern day smartphones with its “PDA” mobile devices.

The new Palm has created a $350 mini-smartphone, roughly the size of a credit card, which is designed to make you spend less time using your regular smartphone. It sounds paradoxical, but it could be a genius idea.

Palm’s phone won’t be available to everyone, however; it’s exclusive to Verizon customers. You won’t be able to get this phone on its own, either. Because it’s designed to mitigate the time you spend on your everyday smartphone, it can only be added to an existing Verizon plan for an extra $10 a month. Palm’s device is essentially a stripped-down version of the phone you already have, and it’s meant to act as an extension that shares the same number and allows you to receive calls and texts, but not much else.

Palm’s phone uses the Android 8.1 operating system, which has been optimized to work on a smaller screen. IPhone users could still use it, but their iMessages won’t come through on this device.

The phone also comes preloaded with a few basic Verizon apps, and its Message+ app uses a feature called NumberShare to automatically sync texts between multiple phones that, as you might have guessed, share a number. All the apps on the Google Play Store are available to download, but filling this phone with apps would defeat its primary purpose.

To achieve its compact size, Palm’s phone has only one button, but that’s all it really needs. This power button can be tapped twice to go home or held down to open a multitasking screen. There’s also a swipe-down menu that allows you to adjust the volume, but the Palm has no headphone jack. Palm also replaced the fingerprint sensor with a feature that uses the selfie camera for facial recognition.

The Palm has a 12-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera. They’re just okay, and that’s fitting for the purpose of this phone. The phone comes with 3 GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, allowing this device to run at a speed that’s sufficient, but not exemplary.

The phone’s most intriguing feature is its “Life Mode,” which is described as a more amped-up version of “Do Not Disturb.” Life Mode activates a combination of Do Not Disturb and Low Battery settings. When the screen is off, it also blocks all cellular and Wi-Fi signals. This setting is perfect for when you really need to focus or for when you just want to disconnect.

The Palm won’t be available until November, but there are already lanyards, cases and Kate Spade clutches available for it. In addition, Steph Curry — the NBA champion is an investor and creative strategy director at Palm — is promoting a specialized exercise armband to hold the phone on your forearm while you work out.

This new Palm is the latest development in anti-phone-addiction technology, and it comes hot on the heels of the new iOS update that added a feature informing users of their average daily phone usage for the preceding week.

Do you think either Palm’s or Apple’s anti-addiction innovations will effectively fight our smartphone obsessions, or is the solution still to come? Will you pick up the Palm phone when it launches?

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