Vertu launches Signature Touch for Bentley

vertu bentley

Luxury mobile brand, Vertu, has launched the Signature Touch for Bentley, a smartphone inspired by the brands’ long-term partnership.

According to Vertu, it entails a Bentley app that provides customers with exclusive content, tailored events, VIP access and features that integrate it with any Bentley car.

It also boasts Beluga and Hotspur Bentley leather, Hotspur stitching, knurled side keys, a pillow rail, sound bar and 3D Bentley logo.

Vertu’s newest creation is based on the brand’s highest performing smartphone, Signature Touch.

Besides its usual portfolio of services, including Dedicated Concierge, Vertu LIFE, and Vertu CERTAINTY, the phone features the Dolby® Digital Plus virtual surround sound and Android 5.1 Lollipop software.

In addition, it features the new Lost Phone service, which allows owners to remotely lock and wipe the phone if it’s lost or stolen.

Vertu and Bentley have previously collaborated on two phones, including Vertu Signature S for Bentley.

compare to iphone 8, Vertu signature touch is the real luxury phone

While swiping away at the all-new Signature Touch, CEO Middle East sat down with Hutch Hutchinson, Head of Design at Vertu, to ask what makes technology a luxury

The world is awash with smartphones at the moment, with more on the way. Seemingly every month we get a new ‘flagship’ device, either from the mainstream tech companies or the smaller firms in China. What makes Vertu different?

We set off on a mission back in the 90s – back when nobody used the word luxury. We wanted to make a better phone. So we asked ourselves, ‘If money was no object, what would we do’. We were at Nokia at the time, and that question had never been asked. Price is very important because phones are in a very competitive market. But even today, that question remains at the core of what we do. We build phones using some very exotic materials at very high price points. We do crazy one-offs for people if they want, and even adding precious stones if needed. And of course, you can’t scratch our screens as they are solid sapphire.

The stigma surrounding Vertu is that it produces expensive, luxury mobiles. But that they aren’t very functional…

That’s not the case. For example, we have an optical image processor in the new Signature Touch. We have four gigabytes of RAM, and a dedicated image processing chip – this actually comes directly out of professional SLR cameras. It takes 21-megapixel photos. More importantly, we have it loaded with an extra-large battery. That’s the thing, more horsepower equals more fuel consumption. You don’t want to have to charge your phone every few hours.

Everyone uses the world luxury these days, it’s overused. Many people see an iPhone as a luxury smartphone.

If you asked people what a luxury phone was in this region, there is a very high awareness of Vertu. But most of the world would still say an iPhone.

So you agree?

A great example between us and them is our most expensive component. The sapphire screen. It’s there for a very good reason, it protects the screen. Now, our friends at Apple attempted to produce sapphire with a company called GT Advanced Systems. It was a horror story. They failed miserably. Now Apple has gone back to glass.

What are the benefits of having a sapphire screen?

People think it’s just posh glass. It isn’t. Saying that is like comparing custard and steel. If you are talking substances, sapphire is the second hardest thing on the planet after diamonds. It’s not found, it’s grown. You take a little seed crystal and put it into a blast furnace that’s running at 2000-degrees centigrade. Then you drop aluminum oxide on over it, and slowly it grows. It takes a long time. Two weeks per screen at least. Then you have to cut it, grind it down, and polish it, all using diamonds. Just a single screen has a six-month lead time from ordering it to receiving it. But the results are incredibly scratch-resistant. Actually, it is five times stronger than glass.

It’s very light.

That’s the magnesium shell. It’s incredibly light. Now, you can cast magnesium – that is pouring it into a mold – but this can make it brittle. Instead, we machine the phone out of a solid lump. Again, this goes back to the ethos of the brand, ‘what if money were no object’.

Does that philosophy extend to how the phone works, as well?

We have done quite a lot to improve the audio. I know that a smartphone is essentially a small computer that you talk into, but to this day it’s really annoying when you can’t hear what people are saying on both ends. We actually spent a long time talking to some ex-Bowers & Wilkins sound technicians, to create a parabolic meshing with a titanium net. This means three times the amount of sound but done in a way that keeps the speakers safe.

There’s no doubt that the build-quality of Vertu has always been noteworthy. But again, the stigma is that they don’t really work too well.

No, I absolutely agree with the commentary. We had a great time building on what was essentially Nokia’s platform. They were phones that were phones. They lasted five days on a single charge. We still make phones based on that, and they still sell. After that, we moved on to the smart Symbian platform and then had a bumpy transition to Android. Hardware was mismatched to software, power consumption was out of control, and many manufacturers had these problems. But with the launch of the latest Android, it got a lot slicker. The hardware just works, seamlessly, with all the functionality of any Android device out there.

How do you translate the luxury aspects of the phone’s exterior, with the interface that many people have to use daily?

Over the years I have carried out many different workshops with some highly-paid consultants on how to design a luxury user interface. I have finally, after many years, come to the conclusion that there is no such thing. The only good interface is an understandable one. Many companies took android and make it their own, breaking it in the process. We actually spend more time on apps, like the clock for example.

That’s fitting given that Vertu is probably more akin to a watch than a smartphone.

It makes sense that way. We use an analog clock face, which is a bit dated if I am honest. But when you think about it, it lets you see 12-hours into the future at any given moment. We have utilized this, so calendar notifications pop up. It’s a more elegant solution, which is what we’re all about. Putting high-end luxury with the new technology, and doing so in style.

Vertu liquidators set to repay staff and plug £500k pension gap

Liquidators of Vertu, the manufacturer of luxury mobiles, have recovered enough funds to pay the majority of employees’ preferential creditor claims – and replenish a large part of a £500,000 hole in their pensions.

Vertu’s jewel and gold-encrusted phones retailed at up to £145,000

Adam Harris and Kevin Goldfarb of the insolvency practice Griffins were last months appointed joint liquidators of Vertu, which sold luxury phones retailing at up to £145,000 each to the super-rich.

After a period in which Vertu’s sales plunged and debts spiraled, talks began for a pre-pack administration to save the business. After the negotiations broke down, Harris and Goldfarb were appointed on July 12.

Since their appointment the liquidators have been looking to maximise the value of Vertu’s assets to recover debts for creditors.

Among the creditors owed the biggest amounts were the 178 staff, who were left with £460,000 in unpaid wages at the time Vertu entered liquidation. Vertu also had a £519,000 deficit in its pension fund contributions and the company collapsed with total debts of around £40m.

The liquidators however raised more than £1.5m in cash during August by selling the company’s assets through an auction with Kent-based GJ Wisdom & Co.

Harris, a partner at Griffins, said: “The successful auction of the company’s assets raised in excess of £1.5m which not only ensures that a significant proportion of the former employees’ preferential claims can be satisfied but also reimburses the National Insurance Fund to the extent that it has covered these liabilities.”

The National Insurance Fund pays out to staff who claim for unpaid wages and other related liabilities when their employer enters insolvency and in the case of Vertu, is set to be reimbursed by the liquidators.

Now the liquidators will look into the conduct of the former owners and directors.

Harris added: “We shall now continue our investigation into the reasons behind the demise of the company.”

Since taking over the company’s affairs, the liquidators have discovered that staff pension contributions were deducted from salaries but not paid over to the pension providers since March this year.

Before liquidation, the company was under the control of Turkish tycoon Hakan Murat Uzan.

Uzan acquired the company from Hong Kong-based Godin Holdings, which had previously acquired Vertu in 2015, from the private equity group EQT.

Vertu’s range of high-end handsets was made with alligator skin, sapphire crystal screens and ruby touch keys. Prices for the mobiles ranged from £11,000 to its premium model; the Signature Clous de Paris Red Gold, which featured 18 karats red gold along with black sapphire keys, and a £39,100 price tag.

The most expensive Vertu phone was sold for around £300,000 to a Chinese buyer.

Vertu budget smartphone for back pocket billionaires

By now you know that Vertu is the go-to global brand for upscale cellular devices – however, with starting prices that nudge the £7k mark, the current line of handsets have been reserved for the kind of guys who would pay for one with their titanium Amex. That is, until now. With the launch of the phone maker’s new model, there’s now a sleeker and (slightly) more affordable iteration for aspiring one per centers.

Starting at £4,200, the Aster is significantly cheaper than its cousin, the recently launched Signature Touch. However it’s wrong to think of this as the Signature Touch “light”; the Aster has a very impressive tech spec of its own, including a 4.7 inch 1080p sapphire crystal display, 64GB of internal memory, a 13MP camera on the back (and a 2.1MP one on the front), and a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB of RAM to ensure the Android 4.4 KitKat OS goes without a glitch. All of these are exactly the same as on the Signature Touch. There’s also wallpaper included from the Tate gallery as well as ringtones composed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Dolby speakers to listen to them on. So far, so good.

The main difference is the design of the handset, which you’ll immediately clock is far more pared down than the Touch with it’s ballsy, almost Star Trek-esque ear panel (or “pillow” as the brand calls it). Perhaps it’s because it fits in with the current trend towards more understated items that we’re seeing in the luxury industry, or perhaps it’s because it sits more easily in your hand or slips slightly smoother into your pocket, but we like this new design a lot.

While this model might not be crafted from the kind of high-end mixed metals available for the Touch – such as gold or all-over PVD black titanium (one of the main factors, no doubt, at the reduced price) – the simpler polished titanium edges are an impressive alternative. This being Vertu, there’s also a whole host of exotic skins that your handset can be clad in from “entry level” calf leather (£4,200) to karting (£5,600) up to top-of-the-range ostrich in cognac (pictured, £5,900).

The only real downside? That trademark red ruby button on the right-hand titanium panel will only get you a six-month stint with the Vertu’s famous concierge team, as opposed to a year of expert recommendations from a dedicated “personal lifestyle manager” with the Touch.

However, if you’re looking to supplement your handset with other accessories, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is also a coordinating range of beautiful protective leather cases (from £280) to accompany your new purchase. Because let’s face it, you’re going to want to make sure this phone stays pristine for as long as possible.

Vertu posh smartphone is probably more powerful than yours

  • Moving on to cameras, the main image has been upgraded to a 21-megapixel resolution with f/2.2 aperture (though f/2.0 la Moto X Pure Edition would be better), a dual-tone LED flash, phase detection autofocus, and 4K video recording. The front-facing camera, on the other hand, is stuck with the same old 2.1-megapixel resolution, so hopefully, there’s at least some improvement in image quality. To our surprise, gone is the Hasselblad partnership, but Vertu has since recruited ArcSoft to focus on the camera’s software. We’ll just have to wait and see if the results are any good.

    The most noticeable design change is on the phone’s back plate, where you can twist the round latch to flip open the new “dramatic” gull-wing doors to access the Nano SIM slot and microSD slot. As before, under the right flap, you’ll find the laser-etched signature of the craftsman who was solely responsible for your handmade device back in Church Crookham, England. There’s also space in other parts of the back plate for personal engraving because if you’re paying so much for a smartphone, you might as well make it truly yours, right?

  • we haven’t forgotten the most important element of Vertu phones: services. With the new Signature Touch, Vertu’s “Dedicated Concierge” — a service that provides a single point of contact to act as your personal assistant — is now complimentary for 18 months instead of just 12. According to Pogliani, this feature has proven to be a big driver for customer loyalty and likeness to repurchase a Vertu replica handset, especially since he drastically improved the relevance, quality, frequency and number of privileges offered to his customers over the last two years. Other features such as encrypted communication by Silent Circle and global WiFi access by iPad are still included.

    “With a growing global appreciation and understanding of the term ‘luxury tech’, the opportunities ahead of us are many,” the exec added.

    The new Signature Touch will be available globally from mid-October, with prices ranging from 6,500 (about $9,900) all the way to 13,700 (about $20,900), depending on your combination of colors and materials:Jet Calf, Garnet Calf, Grape Lizard, Pure Jet Lizard, Jet Alligator, Pure Navy Alligator, Clous de Paris Alligator and Pure Jet Red Gold.

Here’s how you make the world’s most expensive phone

vertu maker
Vertu started life in the late 1990s as an indulgence for Nokia’s designers. Led by Frank Nuovo, the group set out to explore what a phone could look and feel like if its design was unconstrained by budgetary concerns. What if you could use all the best materials and most expensive manufacturing processes, what sort of phone would you end up with? Given free reign to experiment within the then-resplendent Nokia, Vertu gradually evolved into its own division, with a name, logo, and brand identity that grew to be synonymous with overt demonstrations of wealth.

Last year, Vertu replica gained its independence from Nokia after being purchased by a private equity group and quickly moved to Android as its platform of choice. It is now the most exclusive Android OEM around, offering handsets that cost at least four figures in whatever currency you care to buy them. Still, the way the company conducts its business hasn’t really changed from the start. One single manufacturing facility on the outskirts of London handles every Vertu order, with the entire team of designers, engineers, and assembles all working under the same roof.

The central tenet of Vertu design also remains unaltered. “If you want to stand out, that’s what it was built for,” says Hutch Hutchinson, the company’s chief of design, as he points to the $15,000 Signature handset. It’s an unapologetic luxury item, one which turns its Nokia Series 40 software and anachronistic number pad into an asset, demonstrating through them that the owner of the phone doesn’t need modern technology, he most likely has people doing those jobs for him. And yet, Vertu is also looking to the future with the introduction of two Android phones this year that usher in touchscreens, the Google Play Store, and many other modern smartphone amenities. The company is eager to appeal to women as well as men, and it’s extending its range to accommodate a younger customer too.

Being a luxury mobile-phone brand presents some unique challenges for Vertu. Whereas the luxury industry “moves at a very slow and considered pace,” says the company’s head of PR Jon Stanley, the exact opposite is true of smartphone manufacturing. By the time you’re fully up to date with both components and software, there’s already the next iteration waiting in the wings. Vertu will never actively compete in the specs race, but it recognizes the need to match the basic building blocks of its contemporary competition.

Here’s a look at what Vertu does with those components once it gets them inside its Church Crookham HQ.

Vertu’s sudden CEO swap spells trouble after Chinese buyout

  • It’s only been three months since we met Vertu replica then freshly-appointed CEO Billy Crotty, an Irishman who was brought in by the company’s new Chinese owner, but for reasons unknown, it appears that he’s already left the luxury phone maker. That’s according to the LinkedIn page of Gordon Watson, who has since been promoted from VP of Sales and Marketing to CEO. Needless to say, it’s an unusually short stint for such an important role, though there were already signs of trouble beforehand with the recent departures of other key execs.

    A quick search on the web shows that since Crotty’s appointment back in October, Vertu had already lost its COO, VP Product & Marketing, Brand & Marketing Director and, most recently, the Regional Head of Sales in the Middle East — a key market for Vertu. Bizarrely, most of these positions have yet to be filled, the risk of which is probably akin to sailing a dinghy through a wild storm sans navigation.

  • We can’t help but worry that Vertu’s Chinese owner, Godin Holdings, has something to do with this seeming vacuum in its executive team. In our previous interview, Crotty vowed to keep Vertu’s manufacturing base in the UK, as it was apparently “one of the principal reasons why Godin invested in and acquired” this eccentric company. With him and the other key execs gone, we do wonder if this promise will no longer be kept? And does the new Vertu have what it takes to tackle the declining luxury market until it recovers later this year? That will be the big challenge for Watson.

VERTU launches bespoke phones designed by artist Wissam Shawkat

Vertu recently unveiled its collaboration with renowned artist Wissam Shawkat who has created exclusive designs available as a part of the brand’s bespoke offering. VERTU customers will have the opportunity to purchase a New Signature Touch handset featuring one of Wissam’s iconic Arabic calligraphy designs honoring the theme of love.

This unique collaboration between VERTU and the UAE-based calligraphy artist Wissam Shawkat reinforces the importance of the Middle East to the luxury handmade mobile phone brand and offers customers an opportunity to own a piece of art that reflects their individuality.

Wissam’s style of calligraphy is recognized for its high level of craftsmanship combined with a contemporary interpretation of the art form.
This ethos fits perfectly with VERTU belief in extraordinary craftsmanship combined with innovative technology and services.

Wissam Shawkat said I’m honored to be working with VERTU. The brand has changed the definition of what a mobile phone can be from something very practical to an innovative, extremely personal object. Each phone combines hand craftsmanship with leading edge technology, resulting in a sensorial experience in both design and function. Similarly, I aim to elevate the art of Arabic calligraphy, while maintaining the heritage of the traditional Arabic art form. I aim to advance the aesthetic to something contemporary and modern.

VERTU’s Head of Design Hutch Hutchison added: This collaboration with Wissam is the ultimate expression of our Bespoke offering, whereby customers can own more than just a unique VERTU, but truly a work of art. This exemplifies how VERTU is innovating with new and previously unheard of levels of personalization on the mobile phone.

The special designs by Wissam Shawkat will be available to purchase in selected VERTU boutiques in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Lebanon in conjunction with a special traveling exhibition of limited edition prints by Wissam. To further cater to the tastes of regional clientele who are on the continuous search for the ultimate luxury and exclusive experience, customers will also be able to commission the artist to create a bespoke handset in-store at selected boutiques across the region.

VERTUs collaboration with Wissam Shawkat during Ramadan is a part of their larger global art program which includes their collaboration with English/Lebanese artist Hania Farrell that was launched at Beirut Art Week last year, their ongoing installations with artists and designers as part of the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and their support of the world premiere of Peter Greenways project Golden Age of Russian Avant-Garde, which was a key part of the UK-Russia Year of Culture. The brand continuing the connection with arts and culture also extends to their handsets, where customers are able to adorn their handsets with high definition wallpapers created from 10 of the National Gallery’s most famous masterpieces.

Participating VERTU boutiques: The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates (Dubai), Kingdom Mall (Riyadh), Stars Avenue (Jeddah), Salhiya Mall (Kuwait), Villaggio Mall (Doha), Souk Beirut (Beirut). It will start tomorrow (June 1). SG

Vertu CEO Watson welcomes Solarin to the luxury phone market

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Israeli firm’s new 9,500 handset is to provide Vertu with true competition for the first time, Handset manufacturer Vertu hopes new entrant Sirin Labs will help boost awareness and drive sales in the luxury smartphone market.

Vertu replica, formerly owned by Nokia, has specialised in the luxury space since 1998 with stand- and un-customised handset prices ranging between 9,500 and 23,000.

Israeli manufacturer Sirin unveiled its first device, the Solarin (below), earlier this month, with prices starting at 9,500 and direct competition to Vertu.

According to Vertu CEO Gordon Watson, who joined the company in February, Vertu has dominated the segment uncontested for more than 18 years and welcomes the challenge.

It’s been disappointing that so many players have come into this space and left without contributing anything, Watson told Mobile News. Sirin is likely to have more staying power, add- in more voice and credibility.

Best phone ever made

From the outset at least, Sirin LABS seems intent on making its mark.

Backed by a $72 million private investment, the Android run Solarin made its first appearance during a packed event in central London this month hosted by TV’s Countdown star Rachel Riley.

The manufacturer’s co-founder Moshe Hogeg, who was speaking on stage in the opening address, went as far to describe the handset as the best phone ever made thanks to its design and features, something it suggests its rivals compromise.

We love technology and we love to innovate, said Hogg. We started Sirin Labs to push the buttons of technologies. We wanted to change the rules. We thought we should play the game backwards and shouldn’t let price determine the advanced technologies that are available. We wanted quality, technology and security. Solarin, in my opinion, is the best phone ever made.

Privacy

The biggest USP for the Solarin is its military grade security C with the firm stating it would be largely targeted towards leading business decision makers and celebrities (Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy attended the launch, although played no part). The device was hailed as the most secure in existence today using software from Zimperium, protecting from threats carried over data, Proton Mail providing end-to-end encryption on emails. It also includes security from Kool Span, which provides end-to-end encryption on calls and texts which can be activated by sliding a switch found on the rear of the device.

Cyber attack fears

If you have money you put it in a bank, explained Hogeg. If you have jewellery you put it in a safe. But the most important asset today is information, it’s our privacy. That was our main focus.

Co-founder Tal Cohen, who joined Hogeg on stage, added: The target audience are business leaders, entrepreneurs, financial firm partners and basically people who have a lot of confidential information and have a lot of communication needs.

Cyber-attacks are endemic across the globe. This trend is on the increase. Just one attack can severely harm reputations and finances. Solarin is pioneering new, uncompromising privacy measures to provide customers with greater confidence and the reassurance necessary to handle business-critical information.

Features

On top of the security functions, Sirin also claims the phone has an additional number of world- leading features. This includes a 23.8-megapixel camera on the rear, four-tone flash, front-facing flash and a 5.5-inch Gorilla Glass 4 2K screen. Gorilla Glass manufactures screens designed to be more durable than conventional phone displays.

It also has three-bass boosted speakers linked to a smart amplifier. According to the manufacturer, this delivers state-of-the-art sound that maximises volume but controls distortion that might otherwise ruin overall sound quality. Other notable features include a 4,000mAh battery and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. It is IP54 level certified, meaning it’s both dust and waterproof.

Cohen concluded: We can offer them tomorrow’s technology, today. Cost doesn’t influence our decision making; optimal functionality and quality do.

The handset is available both online and in-store at Sirin Labs Mayfair store from June 1. Harrods and Selfridges will both stock the device from June 30.

luxury phone manufacturer Vertu is auctioning its $20,000 phones for cheap

Most people never owned a Vertu handset the cheapest models typically cost several thousand, making them exclusively the preserve of the ultra-wealthy. The Vertu replica signature Touch, for example, started at 7,500 (roughly $10,000).

Amusingly, in 2014, Vertu launched a budget line. The Vertu Aster cost just 4,500 (roughly $6,000). While significantly cheaper than its stablemates, it was way more expensive than anything the average smartphone buyer could afford.

But now, with the company’s assets on the auction block, you can pick up a Vertu phone for a (relative) bargain. One of its Signature brand feature phones, which comes encased in 18 karat gold and black alligator leather and originally retailed for 14,700 ($19,000), currently has bids in the 1,150 mark ($1,500).

The liquidators have also listed the company’s phone museum, which contains 105 iconic Vertu phones from the company’s long history. Some of these are concept devices, while others are fully-working models. The opening bid for this is 20,000 ($26,000).

Other collectibles under the hammer are a little more left-field.

The most unusual thing I found in the auction is a large bronze statue of a horse-mounted soldier, holding the Vertu copy logo like a weapon. At the time of writing, the current bid for that is 775 (roughly $1,000).

It’s a staggering fall from grace for Vertu. This was a brand that once saw its phones flogged in the most extravagant of boutiques, like London’s Harrods. Now its assets are sold to the highest bidder at an online auction for a fraction of their retail cost.

I feel sad for them. As a Brit, it’s bitterly sad to see our only domestic phone manufacturer collapse in such a way. And most of all, I’m sad for the nearly 200 people who have lost their jobs.

If you want to get yourself a piece of tech history, hurry: depending on the item, bidding concludes either today or tomorrow.

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