A company in Berkeley, California, has designed a perfectly round smartphone that looks like a pocket watch, and will debut it next week at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
The Runcible will debut in Japan later this year, and will feature a camera and all the wireless connections you’d expect: LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
It will also run the Firefox OS, the mobile platform from browser maker Mozilla. That means it won’t run the hundreds of thousands of native apps available for Android and iOS, but will run only apps written in the HTML5 language, which is used for web apps.
The lack of apps may be a turn off for some users, but this isn’t a device for always-connected tech enthusiasts anyway.
Monohm designs “heirloom electronics,” and it’s advertising the Runcible as a more tasteful kind of smartphone for people who don’t always want to be plugged in.
As the company’s web site says, it’s meant to resemble “the pocket watch, the compact, the compass, the magical stone in your hand,” and it “will never beep, alert, or otherwise interrupt you.”
Think of it like the fixie bike or craft artisan beer of smartphones.
The company told CNET that photography will be a major focus for the phone, and it will use some custom HTML5 apps that are redesigned for the round screen. But most important, it’s meant for people to keep for a long time, like a keepsake, rather than replaced every two or three years like most smartphones.
We’ll be on hand at Mobile World Congress next week and we’ll see if we can get a demo.