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Rabbit R1 is the latest AI hand-held that wants to kill the iPhone

Rabbit R1

The Humane Ai Pin has some competition in trying to replace the iPhone, with Rabbit's R1 a $200 handheld that wants to use AI to change the way users interact with apps.

Introduced at CES 2024, Rabbit's first hardware release is the R1, a compact square that wants to be the intermediary between the user and their smartphone, be it an iPhone or another device. The idea is that, instead of users fumbling through apps to get something done, the Rabbit R1 and Rabbit OS will do it for them instead.

Using a "Large Action Model," analogous to the Large Language Model used by Siri, ChatGPT and similar systems, Rabbit will take commands from the user and perform the instructions within apps on their behalf. For example, asking for a ride to a supermarket could trigger Rabbit to use Uber for you.

The Large Action Model, trained by observing how users use apps, should in theory be able to navigate most app types from the start, but it will also have a training mode for teaching highly specific tasks.

The R1 itself is a fairly simple piece of kit, consisting of a 2.88-inch touchscreen in a rounded square that was designed with Teenage Engineering. Powered by a 2.3GHz MediaTek processor with 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage, the unit has "all day" battery life as well as a rotatable camera "eye."

Unusually for its design, there is a chunky scroll wheel, as well as a side button designed for push-to-talk. At the top are a pair of far-field microphones for capturing user's tasks, and though there's space for a SIM card, it doesn't seem to be usable as a smartphone in its own right at the moment.

By its concept, Rabbit is seemingly going down the same route as Humane's Ai Pin, but more to control apps a user may already use instead of using an AI to perform the task itself. At $199, it's also significantly cheaper than Humane's option, and without requiring a subscription either.

Though both Humane and Rabbit may have trouble convincing many to move away from the smartphone interface, the reasonable pricing of Rabbit could give it an edge upon release.

The Rabbit R1 is available for preorder, with shipments expected to start from March.