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Verizon Introducing Tiny Companion Phone

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Device about half the size of iPhone SX Max

Verizon (VZ) has partnered with San Francisco start-up company Palm Ventures Group to introduce a tiny smartphone the size of a credit card. The device, called Palm, will go on sale in November with a $350 price tag, or about $300 with a two-year Verizon contract. Palm will be exclusively available on Verizon’s network, but it can’t be bought as a stand-alone package. It’s meant to be an add-on to Verizon customers’ current lines.

Palm is advertised as a more portable phone that people can carry with them to the gym or use on weekends when they want to get away from their bulky, flagship smartphone. The Palm is about half the size of Apple’s iPhone XS Max.

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Samsung veteran workers behind Palm

The Palm runs Google’s Android software but can be paired with both iPhone and Android devices. Samsung (SSNLF) is the world’s leading vendor of Android smartphones, shipping more than 320 million handsets in 2017, according to Gartner estimates. Palm Ventures, the start-up behind the Palm phone, was founded by Samsung veteran workers.

The Palm brand was licensed from TCL, the Chinese manufacturing company that owns the rights to make phones under the BlackBerry brand. Qualcomm (QCOM), the chip supplier that Apple sidelined in its latest iPhone devices, is behind the processor powering the Palm device.

Verizon falls behind T-Mobile in customer acquisition

Verizon may be banking on the companion Palm phone to help it pull in more customers. Although Verizon boasts the largest wireless customer base in the United States, it has fallen behind its rival T-Mobile (TMUS) in terms of new customer acquisitions. It gained 530,000 postpaid customers in the second quarter compared to 1 million postpaid customers gained by T-Mobile. Sprint (S) gained about 120,000 postpaid customers in that period.

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