Tag Archives: Vertu

Business of Luxury: Vertu is Dead and It was Never the “Rolex of Phones” and this casts doubt on Luxury Smartwatches

It’s official. Vertu is dead. According to BBC, the British-based luxury phone maker with Hampshire factory and headquarters and an army of craftsmen hand assembling each smartphone, each costing thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars will go into liquidation after plans to save the luxury phone maker from bankruptcy failed. In 2015, it was reported that Vertu sold 425,000 (more on that in a moment) luxury smartphones and in recent years, Vertu had fallen on hard times with the recent liquidation resulting in the loss of 200 jobs, no word yet on what would happen with its boutiques worldwide.

That said, it is somewhat miraculous that high-end, jewel-encrusted handsets have been a trend that has lasted close to 10 years. During the early 2000s, luxury phones or fashion phones with precious material trimmings were produced by everyone from Nokia to Tag Heuer. But the handsets never quite lived up to the promise of Vertu’s objective of being the “Rolex of phones”.

Business of Luxury: Vertu is Dead and It was Never (Nor could it be) the “Rolex of Phones”

In 2014, then Vertu CEO Massimiliano Pogliani told IBTimes UK, “No one needs one of these phones. [They buy our phones] because they like the object, it’s not about showing you are a wealthy person. It’s an emotional purchase, we don’t want to be the phone of everybody, we want to be the phone for people who appreciate details.”

For all the gold, ruby, diamond and exotic leather details, a Vertu never really became an emotional purchase (unless you count “the wank” factor as an emotion). For emotionality to develop, the seed of genesis is entirely different. A Rolex, or any other handcrafted mechanical watch is built on the foundation that the technology is by nature – everlasting. Hand finished springs, gears, wheels and pinions do not go out of date because they have already transcended that linearity of functionality and obsolescence. Where once it was (almost) obsolete thanks to quartz, they live on today beyond practical time-keeping. This is where emotionality lies, a fine watch exists on your wrist in a state of permanence whereas your smartphone is ever changing by the virtues of its quickly obsolete printed circuit boards and rapidly outdated microchips.

To wit, a $20,000 Rolex does not tell time better than a $20 Casio but dressing a Casio up with precious metals, gems and hand finished pushers does not make it a Rolex anymore than wearing a Ferrari leather jacket makes you an owner of a Ferrari.


A spin off from Nokia since 1998, the first Vertu phone made news for being the world’s most expensive cellphone in 2002. 10 years later, private equity firm EQT VI acquired the company. until 2015 when the business was sold to Hong Kong based Godin Holdings. While over 400,000 units of the ultra-luxurious smartphones averaging £5,000 have been sold, the company operated annually with losses of over £15 million in 2013. By 2014, the British company recorded a loss of £53 million on sales on £110 million. Earlier this year, the ailing luxury smartphone maker was sold the company to exiled Turk, Hakan Uzan, for £50 million. His offer of  £1.9 million to consolidate over  £100 million worth of debt fell through. While Vertu did not have any rivals in the space in recent years, there was a spate of close releases in 2008 meant to compete with Vertu in the sphere of well-constructed luxury oriented phones, chiefly, TAG Heuer, Prada and Armani. Even parent company Nokia attempted a more upmarket version of their symbian phone with the 7900 Crystal Prism phone, complete with a Sapphire crystal and engraved design by French graphic designer Frederique Daubal.

The biggest conundrum of operating a luxury smartphone maker with the objective of ‘selling on emotions is that the Vertu was making a big ask for consumers to get attached to a phone which would become outdated each year tech companies release a new iteration of hardware and software platforms. At time of publication, financial woes and liquidation notwithstanding, Vertu sold the Signature, Signature Touch, Aster and Constellation – with one glaring flaw – they were 2014 hardware specs operating 2014 Android OS in the year 2017. All the trappings of precious metals, diamonds and rubies were not going to engender the kind of deep set emotions art, a classic car or a fine mechanical watch was capable of.

Yet, despite its failings, Vertu did have a unique proposition – access to a concierge service which is open to all legal requests. In offering this “money can’t buy” service, Vertu set itself apart from its tech trappings with the minimum £2,000 per year service, upgraded for more bespoke service, but somehow was never able to leave behind its tech failings.


Vertu’s demise casts doubts on the genre of Luxury Smartwatches

Last October 2016, Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2017 presentation showed that this luxury maison was going to avoid what Prada and Armani had previously unleashed to lacklustre performance. Instead of focusing on tech, they focused on what Louis Vuitton does best – They made an accessory. Just as you dressed in their couture or toted their latest bag, Louis Vuitton unveiled the Eye-Trunk iPhone Case. While it is not this author’s cup of tea, the Eye-Trunk iPhone Case was an authentic emblem of the brand, Vuitton was neither entering an arena it was not familiar with, nor setting itself up for chasing an endless technology product cycle. If your iPhone became outdated, you merely slipped out the old version (and given Apple’s propensity to keeping the design fairly similar to older iterations), and placed the latest version with the Eye-Trunk iPhone Case – so named one assumes because Apple has registered all lowercase “i” prefixes as trademarks.

But then, recently, Louis Vuitton chose to enter the genre of the luxury smartwatch. While it is an undeniably beautiful piece of wrist instrumentation equipped with the maison’s own City Guides with proximity alerts, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon with airport concierge (in that never again will you have to look up terminal and gate details on Google, they’re all accessible from the watch the minute you email your flight booking to a Louis Vuitton address) is actually a polished (or brushed) piece of hardware. Queries to Louis Vuitton Singapore have confirmed that unlike the other LVMH smartwatch offering from TAG Heuer, there is no upgrade or trade in path for the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon to be turned into a mechanical watch by ponying up a few thousand dollars more.

In essence, the permanence and raison d’etre of luxury (ironically, how Louis Vuitton became reputed for in the first place – their water resistant trunks were designed to endure repeated journeys about steamships while their competitor’s suitcases often deformed with water damage) runs contrary to the consistent obsolescence of technology. Recently failure of Jawbone, maker of bluetooth fitness devices and Fitbit, also bear out the idea that wearable tech is still largely experimental at best and to endow such “throwaway” gadgets with the eternity of diamonds and assorted gemstones, is to only fight against the natural product cycle. To sum up, a corded rotary phone has better luck becoming a permanent artistic/design fixture amongst your personal belongings than a smartphone which gets replaced at a fraction of the cost with the next slimmer model at double the processing power and twice the megapixel capture ability.

Is Sirin Labs the Future of Luxury Mobile Phones?

High luxury phones have got to be a tough sell. While you can gaze in awe at an over-the-top Vertu phone, such the $310,000 Signature Cobra made back in 2006, and perhaps appreciate it as an art object, technology moves so fast that its analog dial-pad has already become hopelessly outdated. The Israeli startup Sirin Labs aims to bring something different to the table. With $72 million in funding backing it up, they aim to go in the direction of providing the most cutting edge ‘tomorrow’s technology’, right here, right now. This $15,000 mystery phone, dubbed ‘Solarin’, plans to launch in May so we’re getting anxious over here (Ed’s note – We wrote in to Sirin Labs for an update but the company has yet to respond, with either comments or any pictures).

So the obvious question is – what exactly is it? The construction seems to revolve around getting the best engineers and research teams together at Sirin Labs’ little facility in Tel Aviv. What seems to be a focus though is on Internet security, anti-virus software, and cyber-defence. Definitely, with the whole Panama papers deal, as well as countless other cyber-attacks on entertainment corporations and celebrity emails, that’s a key area to look into with plenty of market potential. Furthermore, in conjunction with the release of the phone, Sirin Labs will also be launching its first flagship store over in London.

Beyond that, at $15,000 you can bet that it isn’t going to look like any old run-of-mill iPhone. Their selling point is “quality, technology, and privacy”. To our not so tech-savvy minds, that calls up visions of cyberpunk fittings and holographic interfaces. Well, since they’re going to keep it a secret for now, we can let our imagination run wild can’t we?

Things in the world are certainly getting more uncertain every day, and as Edward Snowden’s leaks demonstrate, you never really know who’s watching. Perhaps for those who want a little certainty in this big mess, the couple thousands spent on the ‘Solarin’ will be a worthy investment, at least, psychologically.

You can check out Sirin Labs website over here.

Image courtesy of Sergey Nivens/shutterstock.com

Aster Diamonds Red Alligator by Vertu

The Aster Diamonds Red Alligator by Vertu

Aster Diamonds Red Alligator by Vertu

Luxury phone manufacturer  has introduced a new model covered in alligator leather and white diamonds. The Aster Diamonds Red Alligator is available for €8,900 (around $10,550).

This new high-end model from the Vertu Aster collection comes with 55 white diamonds adorning its stainless steel case. The back of the case is covered in red alligator leather and features a polished titanium plate.

The smartphone’s 4.7-inch screen (1080p) is protected by a sapphire crystal glass. Each device is made by hand and is therefore said to be entirely unique.

The Aster Diamonds Red Alligator is an Android KitKat phone equipped with a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 64GB of internal memory.

There are two cameras: one with 2.1MP and the other with 13MP, autofocus and double flash. The smartphone is 4G and NFC compatible.

For the same price, Vertu also offers the Aster Diamonds Black Alligator, which is decked out in 33 black diamonds and 22 white ones, along with black alligator leather on the back.

nokia sell vertu

Vertu and Bentley embark on smartphone collaboration

vertu flagship store ginza

Luxury phone manufacturer  announced it has signed a five-year contract with car maker Bentley.

The first “Vertu for Bentley” phone is expected to debut in October, kicking off a series of five different models to be launched over five years.

The new phones will be developed jointly by the Vertu and Bentley design teams. Users will have access to exclusive Bentley content through an integrated app that will come pre-installed on the devices.


Bentley CEO

The partnership is expected to be backed by a joint marketing campaign, with Vertu working closely with Bentley during several international events.

Today, the Vertu brand is distributed in over 500 stores located across 66 countries. The manufacturer is known for its luxury phones such as the Signature Touch and the Constellation, which are sold for several thousand dollars and are often covered in gold or embedded with diamonds.


constellation android 2013

The Vertu Constellation: a $6600 Android phone

vertu constellationphone 2013

Once upon a time, the Vertu phone was the epitome of smartphone luxury, thanks to its 24/7 concierge hotline, which essentially made it an American Express black card that could make phone calls.

As such, just like the BlackBerry for businessmen, it quickly became the must-have gadget for socialites and sports stars alike. It might not have had the best camera or the richest display but where most handsets featured plastics, Vertu’s featured stainless steel, titanium, silver, gold and even carbon fibre.

But just like with BlackBerry, something called the iPhone came along and changed everything. Here was a phone that was desirable because it looked good and offered easy access to the internet and then to a multitude of apps, not because it was gold-plated, and Vertu, like its then-parent company, Nokia had to go back to the drawing board.

Today the company exists as an independent business and its latest handsets, like those that went before, put build quality above internal specifications, but Symbian has made way for Android, and the concierge service has got an update with a host of exclusive tailored and curated content and offers to invite-only and secret events from a number from a number of Vertu partners.

And the latest Vertu handset, the Constellation, is no exception. It can’t compete with other flagship Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy SIV in terms of performance — it boasts a 1.7Ghz dual-core processor and 32GB of internal storage– but the phone’s chassis is made not from plastics but from titanium which is stronger, lighter and more expensive than steel.

Then there’s the 4.3-inch 720p display which on its own isn’t exceptional, but what does make it much better is the fact that is covered by a sheet of sapphire glass. Even its case, available in a range of not so subtle colors is cut from the finest quality calfskin. The Constellation retails for €4,900 or $6630.

Vertu Ti Ferrari smartphone

Vertu and Ferrari partner on a new smartphone

Vertu Ti Ferrari smartphone

Vertu has expanded its Ti line with a luxury smartphone whose design was inspired by the Ferrari F12 berlinetta. A limited edition of 2,013 smartphones will be produced and sold.

The new Vertu Ti Ferrari is the result of a close collaboration between the luxury phone maker and the luxury sportscar brand. Ferrari has supplied some of the red and black leather used in the seats of its sports cars for the leather accents along the smartphone’s casing. Vertu, in turn, has treated and conditioned the leather to ensure it will withstand the constant handling a smartphone is subject to.

The smartphone’s casing is made of diamond-like carbon (DLC), a lightweight material ten times stronger than stainless steel, which Ferrari uses to protect its motors from extreme heat and friction.

The back of the device is modeled after the aerodynamic lines of the F12 berlinetta, while the position of the supercar’s headlights is echoed in the position of the phone’s camera.

The Vertu Ti Ferrari’s feature set is not particularly impressive. Equipped with a 3.7-inch screen, an 8MP photo camera at the back and a 1.3MP front camera for video chats, the smartphone runs under Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and is equipped with Bluetooth, wifi and 3G+ connectivity.

The start screen of the Vertu Ti Ferrari features the signature colors of the famous Italian car maker, and the Vertu for Ferrari App provides access to the latest Ferrari news from the brand’s social network pages and the automotive trade press.

The on-screen clock is modeled after the F12berlinetta’s tachometer, and the four available ringtones purr with the sound of the grand tourer’s V12 engine. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Vertu Ti comes to India

vertu ti

Just three months after its European release, the exclusive handcrafted Vertu Ti smartphone is officially on sale in India.

Priced at an eye-watering Rs 649990, (€9000) the titanium-bodied Android phone is targeted at celebrities and VIPs and is therefore built more around features than performance — chief among these being its Vertu Key lifestyle services.

These services include a 24/7 concierge, exclusive editorial content, city guides and special, exclusive events and experiences, curated for the user based on his or her passions and preferences.

The phone is, at its base, an Android smartphone that runs Ice Cream Sandwich, a version of the operating system that is already nearly two years old and therefore isn’t optimized for the latest apps. Still, it does have one or two standard specifications to make other smartphone owners envious including its use of sapphire glass to protect its display, rather than Gorilla Glass.

The strongest substance currently available for glassmaking, it is virtually scratch-proof and is so tough it is used in the manufacture of body armor. However, it is still too expensive for mainstream smartphone manufacturers to use in large quantities.

The Vertu TI also offers 64GB of internal storage, meaning that it has been designed for the long term — there will always be space for apps and photos no matter how large they continue to get.


Vertu launches world’s costliest Android smartphone

vertu ti

Vertu, the world’s leading provider of luxury mobile phones, has launched Vertu Ti, a new contemporary smartphone powered by Android. The Google Android operating system is 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which although isn’t the latest version, is upgradeable in the future.

The 8-megapixel camera can shoot 1080p video, plus there is a 1.3-megapixel video call lens above the screen, NFC, and 64GB of internal storage memory.

Based around a titanium case, Vertu Ti also uses leather accents as well as the largest sapphire crystal screen ever engineered at 3.7 inches.

The sapphire crystal renders the screen virtually scratch proof and it is tested to be four times stronger than other smart phones in terms of impact resistance

The handmade Vertu Ti starts at $9,600, with a more expensive rose gold-trimmed model that sells for a whopping $19,900.


First Vertu Android smartphone leaked early

First Vertu Android smartphone

The first pictures and specification details have emerged of the Ti, the first handset built by luxury smartphone maker Vertu, since Nokia sold the company in October.

The Vertu Ti runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, and features a WVGA display, dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8260 Snapdragon processor, is NFC compatible and supports Bluetooth 4.0.

What’s more, it is expected to retail for a ‘mere’ €3000 — making it one of the most expensive Android handsets on the market but by no means the most expensive Vertu handset ever dreamed up.

The company became famous for its exclusive handsets that incorporated expensive materials including carbon fibre, titanium, leather and even gold, and with its always-on concierge service, Vertu established the market for luxury smartphones.

However, since the brand’s heyday, other companies, most notably Ulysse Nardin Chairman, whose handsets combine the best elements of a smartphone with the best of a handcrafted Swiss chronograph, have pushed Vertu off its perch.

Although the company is no longer part of Nokia, the innards of the smartphone have been provided by the Finnish company, so technically speaking, the Vertu Ti is Nokia’s first Android phone.

nokia sell vertu

Nokia sells Vertu to EQT VI

nokia sell vertu

Mobile handset firm Nokia today said it will sell its luxury mobile brand Vertu to private equity firm EQT VI for an undisclosed amount.

Nokia’s plans to sell the subsidiary were first revealed last month and it was believed that UK-based Permira, who already own several luxury brands, were in pole position to acquire “the world’s most expensive phone brand.”
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Vertu Constellation Quest Ferrari

Vertu Constellation Quest Ferrari smartphone

Vertu has unveiled the Constellation Quest Ferrari, a luxury smartphone inspired by the Ferrari 458 Italia sports car.

The most striking feature of the product is the iconic Cavallino Rampante, intrinsically crafted from polished stainless steel and embedded in the titanium battery cover. The Ferrari logo is embossed in the leather on the front of the handset.

The luxury handset is meticulously crafted from the most luxurious of materials such as polished sapphire crystal, Ferrari calf leather and polished black ceramic.
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Vertu Signature Dragon cellphone

Vertu Signature Dragon cellphone

Vertu Signature Dragon cellphone

Nokia’s luxury brand Vertu is celebrating the Chinese new year with a luxury dragon-themed mobile phone based on its Signature collection.

Each quad-band dragon phone comes in stainless steel with emeralds, black steel with Rubies, or gold with diamonds.

The handsets cost about $20,800 ; buyers get a leather case, a charging base, and one year of Vertu Concierge service free.
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Vertu Constellation T Black leather

Vertu Constellation T launching this month

Vertu Constellation T Black leather

Nokia’s luxury phones brand Vertu is about to release its first phone to feature a touchscreen, the Constellation T.

Vertu Constellation T is made with exquisite materials, including sapphire, diamond and other precious metals and jewelry.

However, the main attraction for those who are familiar with the company’s products is the 3.5-inch qHD AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display.
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Vertu Ermenegildo Zegna China anniversary

Ermenegildo Zegna Celebrates 20 Years in China

Vertu Ermenegildo Zegna China anniversary

Year 2011 sees Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna celebrating its 20th Anniversary in China.

To commemorate this occasion Ermenegildo Zegna made a special limited edition collection of just twenty pieces to mark this important milestone.

The collection include watches, cufflinks, mobile phones and fabrics made in collaboration with Girard-Perregaux, Tateossian and Vertu.
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Vertu Constellation Quest Carbon Fibre 18-Karat Gold

Vertu Constellation Quest Carbon Fibre

Vertu Constellation Quest Carbon Fibre 18-Karat Gold

Vertu, the leading manufacturer of luxury mobile phones has launched a carbon fibre edition of its Constellation Quest handset.

Engineered using high performance materials combined with luxury finishes, Constellation Quest Carbon Fibre takes its inspiration from the world of motorsport and aeronautical design.

Constellation Quest Carbon Fibre features a matte black PVD body with detailing in polished stainless steel or polished 18 carat gold.
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Vertu Ascent Ferrari GT

Vertu Ascent Ferrari GT

Vertu Ascent Ferrari GT

The British cell phone manufacturer Vertu has once again partnered with Ferrari to release the Ascent Ferrari GT handset.

Inspired by the equally high-end Italian cars, the Vertu Ascent Ferrari GT has a body made made forged titanium with a matte black PVD finish.

The black and red hand-sewn leather ornaments use the exact same leather as the Ferrari interiors.
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Vertu Constellation Quest Collection

Vertu, the market leader in luxury mobile phones has unveiled its first smartphone, Constellation Quest.

The phone is like E63, E71 and E72 phone with a new twist, a QWERTY keyboard. But as it bears the Vertu name and logo it will be more luxurious :)

The new luxury handset is made of either matte or polished stainless steel or 18-karat gold with a leatherback and sapphire crystal or stainless steel keys.
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