Company designs circular smartphone for women – claims talking on rectangles is “unattractive”

A startup helmed by two ex-Microsoft employees wants to change the shape of smartphone with a “sensual” circular phone aimed at female users.

Company designs circular smartphone for women – claims talking on rectangles is “unattractive”

The company behind the phone, dToor, says on its website that the shape of the brightly coloured device is intended to fit “truly feminine clothing”.

dToor (which stands for “Designing the opposite of rectangles”) consists of founders Christina Cyr and Linda Inagawa, who decided to work on the circular handset after becoming frustrated with rectangular smartphone design. They premiered a 3D-printed prototype at MWC in February, and plan to launch a Kickstarter for a 2G model of the handset, at a price of $100 (around £70).

The prototype at MWC 2016 was made from a DIY Seeed RePhone Kit, which includes modules for LED lights, a touch-sensitive screen, GPS and a NFC chip. The overall plan is to launch a 4G version in 2017 with edge-to-edge screens and Android software.

The radical shape of Cyr and Inagawa’s device is undermined by backwards copy on the company’s website. Starting with a few sweeping generalisations, dToor claims that “truly feminine clothing does not normally have pockets”, and that “women need to be connected as women love to talk, text, and communicate through any means available on smartphones with their family, friends, and lovers”.   

dToor goes on to focus on how unattractive rectangular phones are. “For texting or messaging, there is nothing less striking than a bank of moms at a volleyball practice pecking like chickens into their mobile phones. One look and you instantly understand how fundamental it is for women to discreetly communicate in order to always be connected, and how unattractive the process is currently.” 

Questions about gender and tech

Cyrcle isn’t the first smartphone to push a circular design. The yet-to-be-released Monohm Runcible similarly comes with a round screen, and describes itself as a device of the “post-smartphone era” when wearables and phones overlap.

The Cyrcle raises a number of questions about gendered technology, however. While clumsy copy may be partly to blame for the share of ire aimed at the phone – The Telegraph has described it as “patronising and ridiculous” – would a similar product attract as much criticism if its female-specific intentions weren’t stated? Is the common rectangular phone design a gender-neutral shape? And how do the devices on our bodies tap into the language of sexuality?

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