We've become accustomed to cell phones as noisy, rectangular devices filled with applications that are designed to assist us – but often distract us – in our daily lives. California-based startup Mohohm is looking to buck the trend with Runcible, a round device that doesn't use apps and doesn't beep or vibrate to alert users.
Mohohm is positioning the palm-sized device as the "world's first anti-smartphone." The most obvious step away from the norm is its shape, which is modeled on something people have carried with them for years – the pocket watch.
Detailed specifications are scarce ahead of the the first working prototypes of the Runcible being shown at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, with the company saying only that it will feature a high-resolution screen and high-performance camera and phone capabilities.
The device will run on Mozilla's Open Source Firefox OS and aims to use mobile websites rather than apps to try to accomplish many of the same tasks as Android and iOS apps.
Runcible will also feature "a curated maps program that differs from others in finding the most interesting route to a destination, versus the fastest." This sounds OK in theory, as long as the most interesting doesn't lead directly into a traffic jam.
A key point the team at Mohohm is pushing is that it plans to make sure this device doesn't become obsolete after a year or two. The parts in the phone, including the decorative back, are designed to be removed, repaired, and/or upgraded, allowing users to stick with the same device for an extended period of time.
Where the Runcible's pitch gets a little weird is in the proposed lack of interruptions. The team says it's trying to shift focus back to the real world, but for users who rely on their phone for work or other time-sensitive things, not receiving an audible alert for a call or email could be a deal-breaker (and potentially a job-loser).
Runcible, incidentally, is a nonsense word coined by 19th Century poet Edward Lear in The Owl and the Pussycat wherein a duck catches spotted frogs for her dinner with a "Runcible Spoon." We're not going to try to read anything into that one.
Mohohm says the phone will be available in late 2015 at a price that similar to that of premium smartphone. For reference, a 16 GB iPhone 6 sells for $649 without a contract, and $200 with a contract.