Old wine in a swanky new bottle

dhiram Shah | Updated on March 10, 2018

Vertu Aster smartphone


On the Vertu Aster, Android never looked this good

Vertu is undoubtedly a symbol of affluence; their phones are designed to be elegant and robust. Integrated with the hardware are services that have been precisely created to make the owner feel that opulence is not lost, merely nestled comfortably within the fantastically-packaged devices like the Vertu Aster. Much like any of its predecessors, the Aster is a hand-crafted thing of beauty that’s almost flawless.

Fully loaded

In a continuum from the Signature Touch, the Vertu Aster boasts of the same specifications — a full HD (1080 x 1920), 4.7-inch Sapphire Crystal encased, oleophobic coated display; a Snapdragon 801, Quad-Core CPU (2.3GHz); 2GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. Unfortunately all of these high-end modules are a bit underutilised since they’re powering an Android KitKat (4.4.2) operating system.

In lieu of expandable storage, which might have been a hard sell were this some mundane, run-of-the-mill high-end smartphone, the Aster supports USB OTG (on-the-go) which allows you to plug in a thumb drive. This is useful and versatile because it lets you plug in a drive if you have to view documents that might be of a sensitive nature or that someone has handed you on a drive. You can also carry videos or images and view them or send them from the handset without utilising space on your device.

 The 193g of weight behind the Aster is due to the Grade 5 Titanium and the absolutely exquisite Onyx Calf Leather panelling around the device, both of which give the device a smooth, polished and thoroughly refined finish. It’s nonetheless very well-balanced giving it that certain  je ne sais quoi, feel-good factor. From its hand-crafted, hand-turned screws, hand-polished Ruby key (for quick-access to exclusive Vertu services), to the laser-blasted, Black Polished, hand-brushed PVD titanium sound bar, concentric 'race-track' detailing and precise ergonomics, this is a suave looking smartphone. The Aster is also equipped with a Hasselblad certified camera of the 13MP variety accompanied by a Dual LED flash. The 2.1 MP ‘selfie’ camera up-front is stated to be “Skype compliant”; ironically the free app is not pre-loaded onto the handset.

More than looks

The Aster is a gorgeous looking handset that’s also been rigorously stress-tested; according to the company the device has been drop-tested on concrete, frozen at -45°C, baked at 80°C and pummelled with ball bearings to test its endurance. Naturally, it proved more than capable of standing up to the wear and tear of regular city life.

From a software perspective the Vertu Aster doesn’t have too much to talk about; the OS, with Vertu-centric wallpapers, widgets and stylised icons and the custom ringtones composed and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra exclusively for the company, are minor yet elegant tweaks to the otherwise stock Android user interface. It then falls to the world renowned Vertu exclusive services like Vertu Life – an all-access, invite-only service providing updates on special offers customers can avail of based on their location; Vertu Certainty that’s partnered with companies like Kaspersky, iPass WiFi and a host of other specially designed services and software features for the handset; and finally Vertu’s famous 24/7, global Concierge service that will get you what you want, when and wherever you want it — from hard-to-get invitations to events, tickets, hotel and flight bookings on a priority basis, to hard-to-find gifts and access to those extra exclusive ‘money-can’t-buy’ experiences.

While all of the above makes for a wonderful owner’s experience, the Aster, as a smartphone, is just a tad disappointing; the older OS with no mention of an update is a mite laggy, and not something users would expect from a ₹4,75,000 smartphone. The splendid camera, decent battery life, fantastic design, exclusive services (that you’ll eventually have to pay subscription fees for), do make the Aster worth considering if a phone that sets you apart from the crowds is all you want. Aside from Onyx Calf leather, the Aster is also available in Lagoon Calf, Blush Calf, Caviar Karung, Tangerine Karung, Raspberry Ostrich and Cognac Ostrich colour options. 

Dhiram Shah is the Mumbai-based founder of

Published on December 16, 2015

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