When you take a gander at the incredibly tiny Jelly phone, your first inclination is that it's best application is probably for children or runners. With it's incredibly small form factor, one would be hard-pressed to consider it for much more.
Unless you get somewhat creative.
Upon receiving a unit for review, it immediately struck me that the uses for this miniscule device could be far more reaching than even what Unihertz proclaimed. Their idea was to create a smartphone (running Android 7.0) that could fit in the coin pocket of jeans—one that is incredibly portable and perfect for exercise (they even sell armbands and cases to make this easy). To my surprise, the Jelly phone works surprisingly well. Although the base unit specs are pretty low end (1GB RAM/8GB ROM for the standard and 2GB/16GB for the Pro) the device works like a champ.
Of course, it's those low-end specs that could, depending on the application, be the device's downfall. Fortunately, Unihertz thought to include expandable storage, by way of a microSD card. So slap a 164GB micoSD card into the device and you will have room for all the music you need.
A good use case
I'm going to make the case that the Jelly isn't just a toy for smartphone-powered exercise. Instead I'm going to opine that the Jelly phone is an ideal option for businesses that have field workers who need small devices to contact HQ or look up something on the go. Imagine you have numerous staff that work in the field that all need an Android-based smartphone. Since you need to shell out the money for these devices, you could pony up $124.99 for the Jelly Pro and not break the budget. Your field staff would all have smartphones they can easily stuff into their pockets, and you would know they always have the means to communicate.
There's an additional bonus to this: One of the problems many businesses run into is staff using their smartphones for non-business purposes, while on the job. With the size of the Jelly, users might be less inclined to do that, relegating their "work phone" to its intended purpose—work.
At first blush you may think, "Those devices have to be too small to be usable." They aren't. Surprisingly enough, using the Jelly isn't nearly as bad as you might think. Yes, the display is small (2.45 inches), but the apps actually render quite well on the screen (Figure A).
Android, as a whole, works quite well on the device. There are times when I did notice a slight drag on the resources (I was sent a standard with 1GB RAM/8GB ROM), which should be expected from a device running such low RAM and internal storage. However, the call quality of the Jelly is surprisingly good. Despite the size of the device, call recipients have no problem hearing my voice—something of utmost importance when out on the job.
All other built-in apps work exactly as expected (only on a drastically reduced scale). But the size doesn't get in the way of usage. Even typing on the minuscule keyboard was shockingly accurate, so there's little reason to worry about not being able to send messages back to HQ or your fellow staff. And when you're done with the device, stuff it in your front pocket and forget it's there—it's that small (slightly longer than a Zippo lighter).
A useful little device
The Jelly phone isn't going to replace your flagship phone—not by a long shot. But if you're looking for either a second device (one you can use while exercising), or you're looking for a low-cost phone you can deploy to staff, the Jelly phone might be the ideal option. At $124.99, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more cost-effective solution. And with the holiday season upon us, it could be a great gift—especially for those kids begging for their first smartphone.
The Jelly phones come unlocked, so they should function with your current SIM. I popped in an AT&T SIM, and had the Jelly up and running in seconds.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.