When I first heard about Vertu’s new $6,000 smartphone, the Constellation, I was baffled. What’s the point? With Apple’s revamped iPhone5 and Samsung’s slick Galaxy S4, the notion of paying a premium for a “luxury” smartphone seemed…well, completely unnecessary.
But then I held one in my hand. I met with Vertu’s CEO Massimiliano Pogliani, who gave me a demo of the phone and convinced me—a hardnosed skeptic—that perhaps spending $6,000 on a cell phone might not be all that crazy after all.
The Constellation is available in-store only starting this month. Curious about what it actually means to be a “luxury” smartphone? Here are eight things you need to know about this one:
1. The Brand
Vertu isn’t a newcomer in the mobile phone industry. The British manufacturer launched in 2002 and was owned by Nokia until last year, when it was sold to a private equity firm. Vertu previously released the Ti smartphone in February of last year, and the Signature in 2006.
2. The Screen
The Constellation’s screen is made from a 5.1 inch piece of manufactured sapphirethat weighs more than 100 carats. “The screen is resistant to scratching. The only possible way to scratch it is with a diamond,” says Pogliani.
3. The Body
Before seeing the phone for myself, I assumed $6,000 translated into something gaudy, flashy and bedazzled in crystals. I was wrong. The body of the Constellation is wrapped in fine calf leather, available in five colors. Beneath the leather, it’s encased in titanium—which is 2.5 times stronger and half the weight of stainless steel. According to Pogliani, each phone goes through a rigorous durability test: They are dropped onto concrete from 1.5 meters in the air…a total of 12 times.
4. The Craftsmanship
Each phone is handmade (and signed by its craftsman) in Hampshire, England.
5. The Technical Specs
It runs on Android 4.2, has 32GB of memory, a 4.3-inch display, a 13 megapixel camera and weighs 6.3 ounces.
6. The Security
One of the things I found most unique about the phone—and a service Pogliani says is it’s most popular feature—is a service they call “Vertu Certainty.” Through the program, users can make secure calls and send encrypted text messages, emails and photos. It also comes with a “personal tracking alert” button that users can press if they’re in danger—which alerts and then dispatches a security team.
7. The Added Benefit
The phone also comes outfitted with “Vertu Life,” which gives users exclusive access to events, restaurants, Private Members’ Clubs and more, based on the individual’s preferences. It also comes with a “Global WiFi iPass” that offers free wifi at 1.3 million hotspots around the world.
8. The Distribution
The Constellation is available starting in October at any of Vertu’s 500 stores around the world, including one in New York, one in Beverly Hills and one in Las Vegas. The retail price starts at $5,950.
More details on the Constellation at constellation.vertu.com