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.


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.


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.

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’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.

Luxury vertu phone maker is shutting down its UK manufacturing

The owner of British luxury vertu phone maker Vertu signature touch has failed to rescue the company from bankruptcy after offering to pay creditors just 1.9 million ($2.4 million) of the firms 128 million debt. The result of this according to reports from The Financial Times and The Telegraph is that Vertu’s UK manufacturing operation will be shut down, leading to the loss of some 200 jobs.

Exiled businessman Murat Hakan Uzan bought the company in March after it had been sold and re-sold by a number of investment vehicles. Uzan, who was once a prominent businessman in his home country of Turkey, is currently living in Paris and will retain ownership of Vertu’s brand, technology, and design licenses. According to the FT, a person familiar with Uzan’s plans says he intends to resurrect the company in the future.

vertu uk

But even if the Vertu mobile brand can be rescued, it seems unlikely that the aspects that made the phone maker unique will return. The company’s UK operation was home to teams of skilled workers who assembled Vertu handsets using materials like ostrich leather, precious metals, and jewels. The resulting phones were technologically antiquated (they ran old version of Android using last year’s processors) but uniquely extravagant, with some handsets costing in excess of $30,000. Vertu also let customers talk to the individuals responsible for making their phone, and offered 24/7 concierge services as part of the handset’s price.

Vertu started life in 1998 and was originally part of Finnish phone giant Nokia. It was sold in 2012 to private equity company EQT, then in 2015 to Chinese company Godin Holdings. Hazan’s purchase of the firm in 2016 looks like it might be the last time the Vertu signature brand changes hands.

Luxury smartphone maker Vertu rumor is going to close

Vertu phone, the British firm that manufactures luxury vertu smartphone costing up to $52,000, is closing down. The news comes just four months after the company was purchased by businessman Murat Hakan Uzan, who was unable to save it from bankruptcy.

Vertu has been struggling for some time as the world’s wealthiest ditch luxury handsets coated in diamonds, gold, and alligator skin in favor of the iPhone. It has been sold and re-sold by a number of investment firms in recent years before ending up in the hands of Uzan, an exiled Turkish entrepreneur, back in March.

Uzan offered 1.9 million (approx. $2.4 million) to settle Vertu’s 128 million debt and rescue it from bankruptcy, but that wasn’t enough to appease the company’s creditors. As a result, Vertu’s manufacturing arm is closing down, but Uzan will retain its brand, technology, and design licenses.

Uzan invested $40 million in Chinese manufacturer TCL Communication just last month. The deal would have allowed Vertu to use TCL technologies in future smartphones. According to a report from The Financial Times, sources familiar with Uzan’s plans say he intends to resurrect the company and deliver more Vertu handsets in the future.

Sadly, this means the Vertu staff based at its manufacturing facility in Hampshire are now out of a job. The company has also suspended its concierge service, which gave Vertu handset owners 24-hour support but it promises that it’s coming back later this year.

We have taken the difficult decision to suspend our current Vertu services and focus on developing a completely new, next generation suite of services, exclusively for our customers, reads a notice on its website. We plan to launch these new services from September 2017 and update this page closer to the launch with further information. vertu signature touch is the latest model of vertu mobile.