Vertu CEO Watson welcomes Solarin to the luxury phone market

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- ard 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- ing 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 Hogeg. 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 advance 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.

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 CEO Watson welcomes Solarin to the luxury phone market

8d55aed8-9123-48be-abe3-7df01e47693c-e1466424558194.jpg

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.