There are literally thousands of smartphones to choose from at this point but they all generally follow the same design guidelines – a rectangular slab of metal / plastic / glass. Innovation has slowed tremendously over the last several years and looking ahead, the only far-reaching advancements we have to look forward to are bendable displays and modular components.
A company by the name of Monohm Inc., however, is taking an entirely different approach with its phone.
First unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2015, the Runcible is a circular-shaped smartphone that was originally slated to arrive late last year. A series of unfortunate events – namely Mozilla’s decision to kill off Firefox OS and the target processor being discontinued – forced the company to rethink several aspects of the project, including whether or not they even wanted to continue development.
The team agreed to carry on and rebuild the operating system with Android. The hardware also received a significant upgrade as the device will now be powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 410 SoC, Adreno 306 graphics, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of local storage. There’s also Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and a 7-megapixel rear camera but the real star of the show is the display which measures 2.5-inches and features a resolution of 640 x 640 (256 PPI).
The specs won’t knock your socks off but that’s by design as the Runcible isn’t really meant for power users. As The Verge notes, the press material even describes it as an anti-smartphone. This thinking carries over to the OS as well. For example, the maps application will suggest more scenic – and thus, less direct – routes to reach your destination. There’s also no access to the Google Play Store.
Convincing consumers to pay $399 for a minimalist device may be a tough proposition, even with its intriguing design. A potential saving grace is the fact that the device is designed to be easily repaired or upgraded, the latter of course is assuming the company stays in business long enough. Monohm even concedes that it’s not sure how many people will actually want to buy its device which is a bit unnerving.
Nevertheless, Monohm is now accepting pre-orders through Indiegogo for the Runcible through June 30.