Vertu Android smartphone goes on sale in Hong Kong

Vertu’s first ever smartphone to run Android, the Ti, has now gone on sale. Hong Kong is the first market to get it, and, as you’d expect, it’s not cheap. Not only that, but it turns out to be quite a bit more expensive in Hong Kong than the suggested retail price that Vertu announced last month when the device became official.

The Vertu Ti can be bought in Hong Kong for 75,000 yuan, which turns out to be $12,061 or 9,272 at the current exchange rates. Yet we were previously told that the Ti would retail for 7,900. But maybe that was a price before taxes sort of thing. We’ll never know.

What is certain though is that this is the most expensive Android smartphone ever made. In fact, it may also be the most expensive phone ever made. And it’s also the first handset released by Vertu since shedding its Nokia roots (the luxury phone maker was sold by the Finns last year). It’s interesting to see that immediately after that ownership transfer occurred, the company started working on an Android device.

The Vertu Ti isn’t a high-end phone in terms of hardware specifications, but makes up for that (or so its maker hopes) with the materials used for its construction, as well as the fact that it’s manually assembled. The Vertu Ti has a 3.7-inch 480 800 touchscreen, an 8 MP rear camera with dual-LED flash, a 1.3 MP front-facing camera, a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 64 GB of built-in storage space, all the usual connectivity options (except LTE), and acoustics tuned in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen. It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The handset is made from titanium, and the screen is made out of sapphire crystals, and the device’s ability to withstand impact is four times more than other smartphones (though we assume the comparison isn’t made with rugged competitors). The titanium makes the Vertu Ti’s chassis five times more sturdy than those of other phones. And there’s some leather in there too, for good measure.

But the materials are just half the story. The Ti comes with a Vertu button, which opens up an app that allows you to, among other things, be instantly connected to a virtual concierge service that will always be available to you 24/7, no matter where you are. You can call, email, or have a live chat session with your concierge, and behind this is a team of actual humans looking to cater to your every need. If you’re into such things, this alone may make the huge price tag of the Vertu Ti a lot more palatable.

Vertu Unveils Luxury, Android Smartphone on sale

Luxury phone maker Vertu is embracing Google’s Android operating system – for the low price of $10,000.

The company this week unveiled the Vertu Ti, a phone that will abandon the Symbian OS upon which Vertu has relied thus far in favor of Android. But even for $10,000, you won’t get the most recent version of Android. The Vertu Ti will run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich rather than Jelly Bean.

“Vertu Ti is our most significant product for a decade. Android 4.0 delivers a proven and intuitive environment for users while the design and craftsmanship of the handset remain uniquely Vertu,” Perry Oosting, Vertu president, and CEO said in a statement. “Vertu has pioneered and led the luxury mobile phone sector since we began in the late 90s and the great depth of our knowledge and experience can be seen in Vertu Ti.”

Vertu posted a video (below) of the new device on its Facebook page. It touted the “flawless optical quality of the sapphire crystal screen,” as well as “the lightness of the titanium casing,” which provides “strength without compromise.”
The Vertu Ti includes musical punctuation from the London Symphony Orchestra, while the audio was developed in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen.

A new Vertu key, meanwhile, provides access to “our unique curated services.” A screenshot showed screens for Life, Concierge, and Certainty before flashing to a welcome screen that showed the phone’s owner options for the Kee Club in Hong Kong and Apollo Premiere at the Bolshoi in Moscow. Presumably, the Vertu Ti will operate as your own personal butler – with some suggestions that are a bit more high-brow than the neighborhood dive bar.

The Vertu Ti includes a 3.7-inch WVGA display, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, and 1.3-megapixel front-facing one. There is 64GB of internal memory, and Vertu promised up to 7.2 hours of talk time.

The phone ships with a leather slipcase, chargers for the car and wall, data cables, a portable power pack, wired stereo headset, Micro and Nano SIM adapters, an “authenticity card,” and more.

With the Vertu Ti – which was handmade in England, the company said – “nothing will ever feel the same,” Vertu concluded.

Vertu was previously owned by Nokia, but the Finnish phone maker sold Vertu to EQT VI, a European private equity firm, in June 2012. Nokia has also been shifting away from Symbian, which has seen its global market share dwindle in recent months.

Vertu Ti is the company’s first Android smartphone

The Vertu Ti is the first truly new phone model Vertu has to present after they parted ways with Nokia. It’s also their first Android smartphone.

And Vertu has done a nice job in making sure the specs are as up-to-date as possible. There is a dual-core 1.7Ghz CPU, 1GB RAM and 64GB of built-in storage. It’s got an 8MP camera capable of recording 1080p video plus a 1.3MP front camera. Software-wise, it makes use of Android 4.0 ICS with a custom UI.

At 3.7-inches the WVGA display on the front is not as big as on the recent super-phones but Vertu claims these are the biggest sapphire crystal glass panels they’ve built. The body is made out of Grade 5 titanium, and there is a set of stereo speakers, tuned in collaboration with Bang&Olufsen.

The body of the phone consists of 184 individual parts and each unit has been built by a single one of the company’s craftsmen in England. The side key on the left-hand side has a V-shaped in-set ruby to highlight the brand’s traditional design language.

The company is keen on touting the rigidity of their new smartphone and claims it’s got a body that’s 5 times stronger than the competition and a screen that’s 4 times harder to scratch