It’s not every day – or, in fact, ever – that we see a circular smartphone. Guess there’s a time and place for everything though, because this round device just rolled its way into the pre-order phase. The Monohm Runcible advertises itself as an “anti-smartphone,” and if that makes you scratch your head, don’t worry: things will be clear in a moment.
The Runcible’s development process was one of the most beleaguered ones we’ve ever heard of. The cross between a smart(pocket)watch and a smartphone was initially slated to run FirefoxOS. For a long time, the company struggled to find the right processor to really run FirefoxOS with style. After they settled on one and really buckled down to see the project to production, the manufacturer discontinued the chip they had hedged their bets on. That sucked, but those of you who pay attention to the industry know exactly what the next bump in the road was. That’s right, Mozilla killed off FirefoxOS completely.
The setback was so hard that one of the company’s cofounders had to bail on the project and get “a real job,” but CEO Aubrey Anderson and CTO Jason Proctor weren’t ready to quit. “We came out of a long, possibly whiskey-fueled session with the idea that we should just do it anyway,” Anderson said, “that we should find a way to pursue this project in spite of having no operating system and no chip,”
And so a new vision of the Runcible was born, this one running a modified version of Android 5.1 called “BuniOS.” The completed device is a strange little beasty, with the camera mounted directly in the back like the pupil of an eye. With a diameter of only 2.5 inches, this $399 device isn’t going to be your go-to device for streaming movies. In fact, it doesn’t want to be your go-to device for anything.
That’s right. The Runcible angles to be a smartphone that you use less. The interface scrubs away the constant barrage of notifications that many of us experience with our devices, choosing instead to go with a more ‘clumped together’ way of letting you know what’s going on in your digital world. According to a recent study, in fact, this might actually go a long way in increasing your productivity. But if you’re wondering how your favorite apps are going to work on this bizarre device, they aren’t. The Runcible will not have access to the Google Play Store.
If that last line was the last nail in the coffin for you, then we think it’s safe to assume that you’re not a member of Monohm’s target demographic. This is clearly a niche product whose users are interested in minimalism, a slower paced digital lifestyle, and sustainability (they’re made from recycled ocean plastic, and the $499 wooden variants are made from sustainably harvested wood).
“I don’t know if we’re going to be dealing with hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands,” Anderson said, regarding the theoretical size of their audience. “We have a sense of the enthusiasm and the people out there, but it has taken us a whole year to get our shit together, so now we need to sort of hedge our bets in terms of supply chain.”
Under the hood, the Runcible sports a Snapdragon 410 quad core processor powered by a gig of RAM. The GPU is an Adreno 306, and it comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. The single camera is 7MP, and the 2.5 inch display has a resolution of 640 x 640. If you’d like to preorder one of these devices, head over to their Indiegogo page and get started. Pre-orders will end on June 30.
What do you think of this peculiar new addition to the Android ecosystem? Would this be a device you’d shell out cash for? Let us know your take in the comments below!