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Brief Published: 17 Mar 2015

MWC 2015: Runcible – the Anti-Smartphone


Runcible, developed by California-based brand Monohm, has been dubbed "the anti-smartphone" due to its circular shape and unusual approach to technology. The device was launched at Mobile World Congress 2015 (March 2-5), where we spotted a number of devices that readdress our expectations of the smartphone.

The phone is intended to nestle comfortably in a user's palm, with a curved, wooden back offering a tactile finish. Taking a role between a conventional mobile phone and a wearable, the design is inspired by traditional objects such as the pocket watch or compass.

Unlike regular smartphones that promise ultra-connectivity and instant communication, the Runcible offers a less invasive approach for those wishing to escape the pressures of digital life. For example, the maps app also offers options for the most interesting route, not just the fastest. Likely to be most suitable as an alternative device, rather than a replacement, it can receive messages and calls, but doesn't notify the user via an alert such as a ringtone. Instead, they must check the homescreen for notifications, and return missed calls using a compatible headset, as the device doesn't have a speaker.

Built to last, the modular handset's shell can be deconstructed to replace components such as the camera or processor. In this way, updatable and repairable hardware is entering the mainstream as consumers look for more financially and environmentally friendly alternatives to product replacement – see Ethical Electronics for more examples.

As highlighted in Compressed Calm, alternative technology applications are encouraging contemplation for overwhelmed consumers. Seen across the industries, this quest for mindfulness is shifting the design of products and spaces, with tactility and emotional connections emerging as key – look to our A/W 16-17 Design Direction, Restore for further insight.