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April 10, 2013

The New Vertu Smartphone

By Doug Cantor | Technology

The New Vertu Smartphone

Vertu is making smartphones exotic again. By using ultra-strong materials in its products and offering exclusive user services, the British company has transformed a now-mundane technology into an object of desire and envy. It also accomplishes that goal with its prices—Vertu’s newest model, the Ti (starting at $9,600 and running as high as $19,900), reaches close to a hundred times the cost of standard phones.

A single craftsman hand-assembles each Ti, which has a 3.7-inch screen made from sapphire crystal that is four times more scratch-resistant than conventional glass displays. Vertu chose titanium for the phone’s casing—another material that makes it far tougher than other models while keeping its weight low.

But the perks of ownership might be the best feature. Vertu customers get admission to private dining and business clubs in cities around the world and can use an app to connect with wine experts for tasting notes and buying advice. Instead of a virtual personal assistant like the iPhone’s Siri, the Ti provides a round-the-clock live concierge for restaurant and hotel reservations anywhere in the world. For an additional cost, the service can arrange exclusive experiences, such as a tennis match with former no. 1 player Martina Hingis. (Try asking Siri to set that up.)

The Ti has an 8-megapixel camera, 64 gigabytes of internal memory and runs on the latest version of Google’s Android operating system. Those specs compare favorably with most other smartphones, though counting megapixels in a phone like this is like choosing a Ferrari for its cup holders. But while the Ti teems with both style and substance, ultimately its biggest selling point is having other people know you bought one. vertu.com.