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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