BARCELONA -- While smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9 push the limits of what a handset can do, Runcible aims to do the complete opposite. Developed by a team of three at Monohm, Runcible is a perfectly circular, palm-sized phone that looks and acts more like a humble wearable than a full-on handset. I got my hands around an early version of this peculiar gadget at Mozilla's MWC booth, and came away intrigued by how it might perform in the real world.
Runcible crams the features of a smartphone into the body of a round pocket watch. The device sports a circular bezel and display in the front, with a rounded wooden backside that sports a camera -- which itself takes circular photos. Runcible is no bigger than my palm, and felt incredibly lightweight and comfortable to hold.
While Runcible's design is eye-catching, its software has the potential to be even more interesting. Running Firefox OS, the smartphone is designed to offer a clean interface that's as glance-able as the software we see on wearables. The gadget will utilize a crowdsourced, compass-like maps program, which aims to tell people the most exciting way to reach a destination -- not just the fastest. I viewed a number of dynamic watch faces on the Runcible, including a rustic-looking one that Monohm founder Jason Proctor told me could virtually deteriorate over time.
Monohm hasn't provided much info about the Runcible's technical specs, but the company says that the device's parts can be easily repaired or upgraded over time. The device will require a Bluetooth headset for calls, and Monohm claims that it will never "beep, alert or otherwise interrupt" the user.
While Runcible's focus on simplicity and discovery makes it seem like a supplementary device, Monohm plans on selling it for the same price as a premium unlocked smartphone by the end of this year. The device's official description outlines a "post-smartphone era" in which people focus more on the real world than their handset; we're eager to see how folks embrace that once it comes to market.
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