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Design firm wants this round wooden phone to be your family heirloom


See that wooden round thing above? That's a smartphone -- a real, working smartphone with a high-res screen and a camera, and not just a concept that will never come to life. Just imagining how to take calls on it without a headset or how to access websites on it is giving us a headache, but it's sure a good way to stand out in a world dominated by rectangular devices. This circular oddity is called the Runcible, and San Francisco design firm Monohm modeled it after pocket watches and compasses: items it says we humans have been carrying with us for ages.

This probably isn't something that could compete with iPhones and Nexus or Galaxy devices, but it doesn't sound like Monohm is expecting to sell millions anyway. According to its website, it sees itself as a maker "of heirloom electronics and technology." In fact, Runcible was designed with replaceable components, presumably so your kids can upgrade it long after you're gone. The device does have LTE, WiFi and Bluetooth connections, but it won't keep you updated with the latest work emails. It doesn't beep or notify you of anything, and it isn't even meant to run apps, even if it's loaded with a modified version of Firefox OS. (The company hints that it can be used as an IoT controller, though.)

You can see the Runcible in person at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in early March if you can't wait until its official release in late 2015. Also, you can sign up to pre-order right now if you don't mind that it doesn't have a price yet. The company says it will cost as much as a "premium, unlocked smartphone purchase." Yup, it's not coming with a contract, unless you're in Japan (where it will be released via KDDI), and, to note, the cheapest unlocked iPhone 6 costs at least $649.

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