Mobile Technology

Runcible circular smartphone recalls the pocket watch

Runcible circular smartphone r...
Mohohm is positioning the palm-sized device as the "world's first anti-smartphone"
Mohohm is positioning the palm-sized device as the "world's first anti-smartphone"
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Mohohm is positioning the palm-sized device as the "world's first anti-smartphone"
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Mohohm is positioning the palm-sized device as the "world's first anti-smartphone"
The back of the Runcible features a cetrally-positioned camera
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The back of the Runcible features a cetrally-positioned camera
One of several finish options for the device
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One of several finish options for the device
A (sort of) glance at the device's round screen
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A (sort of) glance at the device's round screen
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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.

A (sort of) glance at the device's round screen
A (sort of) glance at the device's round screen

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.

Source: Mohohm

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5 comments
n3r0
Why would you want a round phone? How will you correctly orient the phone in your hand without looking at it? How is it going to display a website without cutting off half of the screen? How do you line up the camera when taking a picture? How do you hold the phone without obscuring the lens? This reminds me of "Triangle Tablet" from The Office. They only changed the shape of the phone to be novel and not to improve the functionality of the phone.
Nairda
"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.".... and this is where it will fail.
Also, what kind of productivity apps take advantage of a circular screen I wonder. Unless it comes out with a rectangular display inside all that which would look horrible.
Alex Aricci
This is a terrible, terrible idea. It's so devoid of features it makes Apple devices look like Swiss Army Watches.
martinkopplow
Unfortunately they do not reveal much of their concept, still most of the things mentioned in the previous comments are not necessary - we just got used to do them. For example can the camera be lined up automatically, and also the screen, no need for straight edges here. I can understand their approach and motivation and am very curious to see what the result will be. Having less features is obviously a core property, not any mishap. As someone who has already passed "peak notification" and turns off most of the annoying features of his smartphone, I might just be one of their potential customers in the end!
leon gelkoff
Where's the duck and the spotted frogs?? Lear must be spinning in his grave!!