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.