Alcatel has made another budget phone with a tall-and-slim 18:9 display

They’ve never become the dominant form factor, but tall-and-slim smartphones with screen ratios that add more vertical space are not uncommon. The latest example is from French brand Alcatel, which today unveiled its latest budget device: the Alcatel 7.

The 7 costs $179.99 and is available exclusively from carrier MetroPCS. As you’d expect for the price, this is not the most exciting fare. It has a 2.5GHz MediaTek processor (an octa-core MT6763), 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a healthy 4,000mAh battery. There are dual rear-facing cameras (one, 12-megapixel; the other, 2-megapixel) and a single, 8-megapixel front-facing lens. There’s also a fingerprint sensor and the option of face unlock.

The most interesting feature, though, is Alcatel’s decision to go with a 6-inch, 2160 x 1080 resolution display with an 18:9 ratio. This, the company claims, “maximizes your screen space without unnecessary bulk.” It’s certainly something Alcatel has tried before with its cheaper handsets, including its first Android Go device and the $150 Alcatel 3V.

Does having that little bit of extra headroom make much of a difference? Some people I know certainly prefer the experience, given that it offers a little more room for reading webpages and social feeds. And in a crowded market for budget handsets, you can’t blame Alcatel for trying to find a gimmick — no matter how slim.

Alleged new Palm smartphone is tiny, strange, and has low-end specs

If you’re a fan of classic Palm devices and the company’s legacy, you might want to be sitting down for this one. Android Police just published images of what is said to be an upcoming Palm-branded smartphone from TCL and it’s… definitely bizarre. The quirky device, codenamed Pepito, has a 3.3-inch 720p display. That’s smaller than the original iPhone’s screen, if you’re trying to imagine scale. It’s also tinier than the screen on the last phone that Palm ever shipped — the Pre 3 — back it was still owned by HP.

There’s only one side button visible on this thing. The Pepito — look, at the very least, I’m digging saying and writing that name — is apparently headed for Verizon Wireless. It’ll have a Snapdragon 435 processor, 3GB of ram, 32 gigs of storage, and run Android 8.1 out of the box. What, did you expect webOS?

From a design standpoint, it seems at least a little bit reminiscent of the shiny pebble vibe that Palm had been going for with the Pre, but I think that’s where my compliments have to end. Between the ugly camera on back, which looks like it should be a dual camera but isn’t, and whatever’s going on with that logo… sheesh. Palm? Or is it Plam? Why did there need to be a line break?

There’s definitely a place for tiny, minimalist phones in today’s world; they can be useful if you’re trying to spend less hours staring at a screen and only want to use it for the fundamentals. The battery in the Pepito is apparently just 800mAh, so this could very well be the kind of product that TCL has in mind. (And no, there’s no headphone jack on this teeny thing.)

What a weird, funky gadget. Maybe it will hold some surprises. But there’s not much about it that seems very, well, Palm.

RED’s holographic Hydrogen One phone gets even closer to release with FCC approval

RED’s upcoming Hydrogen One smartphone still doesn’t have a concrete release date, but we’re presumably getting even closer to launch, given that the phone has cleared the FCC’s approval process this week, via PhoneScoop.

In addition to confirming that the Hydrogen One is in fact a real device that RED will legally be allowed to sell in the United States, the FCC filing confirms a few smaller details about the phone: it’ll have a 4,510mAh battery, dual SIM slots, and support for all US LTE bands (except T-Mobile’s Band 71).

The Hydrogen One was originally announced over a year ago when RED offered preorders for both a $1,195 aluminum version and a $1,595 titanium variant (although that preorder period has long closed), and RED has yet to announce what the final retail price will be. The phone itself was originally slated to release in early 2018, but a series of delays have pushed it to its current release window of sometime in August, with both AT&T and Verizon pledging to offer the device when it launches.

RED is pinning two unique features on the Hydrogen One to help it stand out from a field of other pricey smartphones: first, there’s an attachment system that will let the Hydrogen One serve as the center for a larger, modular camera setup. So far, there’s only one such module announced, though — an 8K, 3D camera attachment developed with camera company Lucid.

The other notable feature on the Hydrogen One is the 5.7-inch “holographic display” that will utilize RED’s new 4-View video format to create a 3D effect without the need for glasses. While it’s almost impossible to gauge how well that works without seeing the phone in person, my colleague Dieter Bohn was able to do just that at a RED preview event earlier this year, describing the effect as “impressive,” although not necessarily a reason to go out and buy the phone.