Mobiles & Tablets

Bling up your smartphone

Elizabeth Mathew | Updated on February 20, 2014


If you thought your iPhone was high-end enough, take a look at these new-age luxury gadgets.

At that sweet spot, where fashion, technology and luxury converge, you have the ultimate accessory – the luxury smartphone. Now, not only are the phones as smart as they come, but additionally have design and style elements that set them a class apart.

While there are many who rush to criticise the logic behind a luxury phone, the key point to note is that when you can afford to, ‘why not’ rather than ‘why’ is the question. Replace the Gorilla Glass with polished sapphire crystal like Vertu does or pick a grade 5 Titanium (polished manually for 4 hours to get the shine) for the body over plastic, like Gresso, or choose between ostrich and iguana hide for leather accents at the back like Savelli – if your credit card has no limit, the choices are each more fabulous than the other.

Exclusivity is the basis of luxury and when it comes to smartphones, the market is catching up with other luxury goods in terms of design elements, additional services and more. So what sets a luxury smartphone apart from an average smartphone other than the price tag? Read on to find out.

Material magic

Vertu is probably the most common name when it comes to luxury phones, and with good reason. The British manufacturer that was originally a part of Nokia, creates phones from extravagant materials, exclusively by hand. With limited editions and plenty of customisable options, this is the go-to brand if it’s flaunting that’s on your agenda. Another brand that does luxe customisation is Amosu, started by designer Alexander Amosu who promises to create a phone exactly to your specifications. You even get a 3D rendering of your design before the actual manufacturing!

Swiss brand Gresso are also in the running for the tag of “most luxurious” and if their grade 5 titanium doesn’t impress you, maybe their logo in pure gold will. Made in a limited edition of just 999 pieces, their Android-powered Radical series come with titanium sensor keys and promises durability against most mechanical stresses.

A pioneer in the luxury phone business is Mobiado, from Canada, who paved the way, starting with using aircraft aluminium, sapphire crystal and even a stone hybrid material to create their uber-luxe handsets. Their latest release – the Professional 3AF – claims to be the thinnest luxury phone ever. Made with anodised aircraft aluminium that’s polished to perfection and stainless steel insets, it also comes with a dual SIM variant.

And if these don't satiate your luxe craving, then try Goldvish, the makers of the record-holding most expensive phone in the world. Called ‘Le Million’, the white gold phone featured 1,800 diamonds and sold for one million euros back in 2006. The Swiss brand’s last release was the dual-SIM Equilibrium in 2012, made with stainless steel, titanium, sapphire glass – the works – and inlaid with gold.

The reason behind the emergence of luxury smartphones has much to do with the perks that come with the high price – and we’re not talking about the envy or admiring glances. A Vertu phone will buy you not only a snazzy handset but also access to exclusive ‘Members Only’ events and parties – sort of like a secret password – and even some exclusive shopping experiences. Called the Vertu Life, the phone gets you access to red carpet events and even last minute tickets to high-end shows which otherwise get sold out months in advance (like London’s Royal Opera or Milan’s La Scala).

And it doesn’t stop there, Vertu’s Signature and Ti phones come with a special ‘Vertu Key’ that allows access to an exclusive concierge service available 24 hours a day, anywhere in the world. And did we mention the customised ringtones created by none other than the London Symphony Orchestra?

UK-based Amosu offers a free international concierge service to its customers, promising them “access to the inaccessible” and experts on-call anytime, anywhere.

Style statement

Fashion houses too have collaborated with tech companies to fuse the technical abilities of a smartphone with unmatched aesthetic appeal. The most famous of this is the “haute couture” Reverie from Christian Dior. Priced at over a $100,000, this piece features white gold, more than a thousand white diamonds and panels of mother of pearl in the brand’s trademark cannage design.

Watch brands and carmakers too seem to have jumped in the fray since their loyal customers are likely to have both the taste and the money to spend on luxury phones. In 2010, Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin launched the Chairman range, an Android phone that features a watch rotor to power the battery and 3,000 diamonds to ensure that you never misplace your phone (just follow the blinding shine each time you forget where you left it).

TAG Heuer is another brand that combined its watchmaking expertise with an Android phone in 2011 to create the LINK series, named after one of their famous watch models, as well as the Merdiist I and II.

Porsche’s famed collaboration with Blackberry – the P’9981 – made of forged steel and bearing the ‘Porsche design’ logo was one of the first pieces to have design elements from a famed car brand infused into the handset. The new version of this, the P’9982, is a BlackBerry Z10 with the obvious luxury upgrades such as stainless steel and Italian leather accents, and a price tag that makes it a definite conversation starter.

Tonino Lamborghini, the Italian carmaker’s sister company that dabbles in luxury goods, came out with the Antares late last year, a luxury smartphone made of the same stainless steel as the iconic sportscars. The phone has a customised Lamborghini interface for you to use. Add to it the Mobiado Grand Touch Aston Martin, the luxed-out version of the Samsung Nexus S, and you have plenty to choose from.

Economic signifier, status symbol, style statement – your smartphone today is all these things and more. If spending a third of your life asleep is reason enough to invest in a luxury mattress, then considering how addicted we all are to our phones, there’s reason enough to indulge in a luxury smartphone!

Published on February 19, 2014

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