Your next upgrade? The $6k smartphone
If you're tired of the iPhone's ubiquity and long for a sleeker cellphone that embodies the charm of British manufacturing – and are willing to fork out 4,900 Euros ($6,600) – then upscale handset maker Vertu has just launched the Constellation..
At a time when Apple's latest iPhone launch unveiled an upmarket and a cheaper version, the 5S and the 5C, Vertu wants to focus solely on the high end of the market. Back in June, the company appointed Jonathan Sinclair its chief operating officer, having previously worked in the same role for luxury fashion brand Jimmy Choo.
Vertu's move runs against a general trend towards cheaper handsets. A research note from Macquarie recently suggested that manufacturers of high-end smartphones may be forced to lower prices in the coming months, as the market nears saturation and users slow the pace of changing phones. Some mobile network operators recently reduced the price of BlackBerry's Z10 from $199 to $49, including service contract.
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There is now competition from Chinese smartphone makers, such as Xiaomi, whose Hongmi handset has similar specifications to the Apple iPhone 5C but is sold for only $130, compared to $733 price tag for Apple's phone in China.
So how much bang do you get for your buck? The Constellation uses a 5.1 inch piece of sapphire crystal, weighing more than 100 carats, to cover the front of the phone. Sapphire is used as it is resistant to scratching from anything bar diamond. Although one presumes a fair few large diamond rings will be rubbing up against the Constellation.
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The robust Constellation screen is surrounded by grade five titanium casing, both stronger and lighter than stainless steel.
Furthermore, the back of the Constellation is covered in calf leather, and Vertu stated that it has selected "the finest hides available from the Alps region of Europe, working with a tannery with more than 150 years' experience." Owners can choose between five colours of hide from "cappuccino" to "raspberry".
Other special add-ons include a selection of ringtones composed especially for Vertu and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
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The phone runs on Google's Android software, and comes with a 13 mega pixel camera and 32GB memory. The Consetallation follows the launch of the 7,900 Euros ($10,700) Vertu Ti earlier this year, with a 3.7-inch sapphire crystal screen and polished titanium case.
Vertu's Head of Total Product Offering, Ignacio Germade, said: "While Constellation takes Vertu in a new design direction, materially it embodies everything for which the brand has become renowned – tactile materials, outstanding engineering and craftsmanship and modern technology."