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Designer Cell Phone: The Ultra-Luxurious Vertu Signature Precious-Metals Phone

Vertu sits atop short list of most expensive cell phones on the planet

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating


A Vertu designer cell phone

An image of a Vertu designer cell phone.

Image © Vertu
Guide Result: Split Decision
Recommended For: Exceptionally Wealthy Individuals
Not Recommended For: Everyday Cell Phone Buyers

For most of us, price is a critical object when considering a new cell phone purchase. But what if price was absolutely no object at all?

While we’ve seen cell phones priced as low as $19.99 (even some cell phone accessories cost more), in this designer cell phone review we discover the relatively unknown and ultra-luxurious phone priced as much as a house.
Vertu has taken the precisely opposite approach of the handset makers that have been making cell phone skeletons as cheaply as possible. In fact, Vertu makes its cell phones as expensive as possible.

These phones are so expensive that their price is nothing short of elusive. After doing some digging, though, this should give you a decent idea.

The “cheapest” Vertu available costs $5,100 and the most expensive has sold for $350,000. The house-priced gadget included 3 carats of diamonds and rubies.

The white or yellow gold Vertu Constellation runs for $19,000 while the platinum solitaire Vertu Signature costs $49,000. This is not Monopoly money.

Would you be buying ultra-advanced, James Bond-like technology for this kind of price? Not at all.

In fact, Vertu only recently added increasingly standard Bluetooth technology for wireless headset connectivity and other short-range devices. Instead, you’re essentially buying a fine watch. Think of a Vertu like a Rolex.

It’s all about the precious metals (i.e. platinum and gold) and fine gems (i.e. diamonds and rubies). That said, most of us reading this review at this point clearly realize reading on can only serve as entertaining window shopping. But looking never killed anyone, right?

So here’s the big reveal: You may be surprised to learn that Vertu is actually the luxury cell phone brand of Nokia.

Vertu hasn’t spent a penny advertising its name in the U.S., according to a Nokia representative at Nokia’s flagship retail store in downtown Chicago. The store also confirmed the above-mentioned pricing information.
Vertu designer cell phone

The 18-carat gold, platinum and diamonds used to encase Vertu’s handsets are certified by the Swiss Assay Office.

Image © Vertu
Vertu is more known and sold overseas. This review comes to you after specifically honing in one Vertu handset in its designer collection: the Vertu Signature. Let’s first review the sugar that justifies the phone’s ultra-pricey spice.

“Born from obsession,” Vertu “took the finest materials from the world of matchmaking, automotive, aeronautics and jewelry” and “then made them even better to come up to Vertu’s exacting standards”. Specifically, according to Vertu:

  • Each Vertu Signature includes 388 mechanical components.
  • A total of 74 patents protect its intellectual property.
  • Each of the 18 keys on the Signature keypad is supported by a ruby bearing.
  • The hardness of ruby “contributes to the smoothness of each key touch”.
  • Signature’s face utilizes 69.25 carats of sapphire crystal.
  • Signature’s face includes the “largest piece of complex cosmetic sapphire in the world”.
  • The face is so hard it’ll “remain perfect even if you try to scratch it with a car key”.

  • Vertu says the Signature is so complex and nearly “impossible” to build that eight designers spent a total of four man years “perfecting the feel of the keypad alone”.

    But beyond the fancy cosmetic factor, the Signature weighs in at a heavy weight ranging from 173 grams (6.10 ounces) all the way up to 210 grams (7.4 ounces) depending on the model. A common cell phone today, for example, weighs in at 4 ounces.

    Signature models range from the following metal variations:
  • stainless steel (173 grams)
  • stainless steel reflective (173 grams)
  • duo stainless steel (177 grams)
  • stainless steel with yellow metal keys (178 grams)
  • 18-carat red gold, polished and brushed (198 grams)
  • 18-carat yellow gold, polished and brushed (198 grams)
  • 18-carat white gold, polished and brushed (198 gold)
  • platinum solitaire (0.25 carat and 210 grams)

  • The Signature has a length of 122 millimeters (4.8 inches), a width of 42 millimeters (1.65 inches), a depth of 15.5 millimeters (0.61 inches) and a volume of 78 centimeters.

    A common cell phone today might measure in at 3.9 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.6 of an inch. As for the Signature’s feature set, the only particularly interesting technology component is its potential for extremely long talk time. Here’s the full set of features:

  • 3 to 9 hours of talk time (phones today average 4 hours of talk time)
  • up to 300 hours of standby time
  • high-performance, 20-millimeter loudspeaker requiring no hands
  • advanced Yamaha polyphonic hardware
  • coverage in 175 countries worldwide using GSM technology
  • high-resolution dynamic display
  • precision-engineered key switches with jeweled bearings
  • modem support
  • PC synchronization
  • text messaging (SMS)
  • multimedia messaging (MMS) and email
  • multi-language predictive text input
  • alarm clock and world clock
  • advanced agenda
  • calculator
  • voice recorder
  • a large user memory with up to 1,000 names in the phonebook
  • 220 calendar notes and 100 SMS messages
  • Backplate of the Vertu Signature designer cell phone

    The backplate of the Vertu Signature designer cell phone is a fusion of two powerful metals: hard ceramic and strong titanium.

    Image © Vertu
    The Signature also has language support for English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Russian, Arabic, Turkish, Brazilian, Portuguese and Indonesian.

    The Bottom Line

    While the Vertu clearly is the antithesis of the everyday cell phone and doesn’t for a second attempt to be light or inexpensive, its “heavy” and “hard” features actually serve as enablers for allowing the handsets to take a beating.

    But like many would be if they ever actually owned a Lamborghini, for example, you still might be afraid to touch it for fear of giving the prized possession any sort of blemish.

    While the Vertu focuses entirely on design and form and much less on function, it goes without saying the Vertu is designed to be specifically sought out by celebrities and other exceptionally wealthy people with extremely discretionary spending habits.

    Image Gallery: See five photos of the Vertu Signature.

    Update: Vertu has unveiled an update to its flagship Signature model. The new 3G model is called the Vertu Signature S Design.

    Your Two Cents: Have a comment or question related to this Vertu ultra-luxury cell phone review? Chime in on the forums at this thread!
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