Vertu's first Android smartphone costs 7,900, admits to falling short of 'bleeding edge'

That fancy Vertu Ti handset we saw pop up last month? It's finally been priced, predictably out of the average buyer's price range. Sticker shock for Vertu's first device since the EQT acquisition starts at €7,900, or about $10,587 $9,600 in the US, and buys eccentrics with money to burn a sapphire-covered 800 x 480 display, 1.5GHz 1.7GHz of processing power and a 1,250mAh battery -- all wrapped in a durable titanium shell. What's it missing? 4G connectivity, unfortunately. "Vertu will never be at the bleeding edge of technology," Vertu head of design Hutch Hutchison told the BBC. "It has to be about relevant technology and craftsmanship -- it's not a disposable product." At those prices, we'd certainly hope not. Vertu phones might not be packed with the mobile world's latest tech, but Hutchison says that the top dollar pricetag buys better durability. "People think sapphire is just posh glass," he explained to the BBC. "The only thing that scratches it is a diamond." At the very least, Vertu customers won't have to worry about which pocket they keep their keys in.

Update: Now with official product shots below and press release (including details on the various stress tests) plus promo video after the break. Also, here's a detailed list of specs: Android 4.0, dual-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC, 64GB storage, 3.7-inch sapphire crystal screen, titanium casing, 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.3-megapixel front camera, NFC and "Full/Micro/Nano SIM capability" (see new update below). The prices are as follows:

• Titanium Black Leather - $9,600
• Titanium Pure Black - $11,500
• Titanium Black Alligator - $12,800
• Black PVD Titanium Red Gold Mixed Metals - $19,900

Update 2: We heard back from Vertu regarding the multi-SIM compatibility, and the feature's indeed just as bland as we had feared:

"Vertu Ti can hold a regular sized SIMs, nano and micro. It is purpose built to hold a regular sized version. If a customer has a smaller SIM, the phone has a special SIM adaptor that ensures that it fits in properly."

Richard Lai contributed to this report.

Gallery | 16 Photos

Vertu Ti

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VERTU ENTERS NEW ERA WITH LAUNCH OF VERTU TI

• VERTU TI is the company's pinnacle smartphone device, powered by Android™ 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich
• VERTU TI continues Vertu's unique tradition of peerless material selection, elegant design and hand craftsmanship in mobile devices
• VERTU TI uses a polished Titanium case that delivers incredible strength and optimised weight
• VERTU TI is the first smartphone available from Vertu following its purchase by investment firm EQT
• VERTU TI is available from February 2013 priced from $9,600

Vertu, the world's leading provider of luxury mobile phones, has launched VERTU TI, a new contemporary smartphone powered by Android. Based around a titanium case that has been used for its strength, elegance and low weight, VERTU TI also uses leather accents as well as the largest sapphire crystal screen ever engineered at 3.7 inches. The sapphire crystal renders the screen virtually scratch proof and it is tested to be four times stronger than other smart phones in terms of impact resistance. VERTU TI's titanium case is around five times stronger than other smart phones, deforming less than 1mm when a 500NM force is applied.

The result is a phone that feels solid and beautifully crafted in the hand while offering unrivalled durability.

VERTU TI combines distinctive Vertu design cues, such as the ceramic pillow and exposed watch screws, with a clean overall aesthetic, the result of which is a product that conveys a timeless elegance.

VERTU TI is powered by Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, which in combination with the devices 1.7 GHz processor makes for an intuitive, highly reactive and enjoyable experience. Other features include an 8MP rear camera with auto focus and twin LED flash, a 1.3MP front facing Skype compliant camera, 64GB internal memory and secure near field communication technology.

Another example of Vertu's continued commitment to superior craftsmanship and engineering is VERTU TI's audio ability. Its 11 x 15 mm rectangular drivers are acoustically integrated into the chassis to maximize frequency response and level. The result is an unrivalled symphonic sound from the phones own stereo speakers.

A new feature of VERTU TI is the Vertu key, which provides instant access to a curated world of benefits and services available via a global team of professionals available to customers wherever they may be, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. These services include Vertu Certainty, which helps protect the device, its data and, where necessary, the customer. Vertu Life - tailored information, articles and benefits - sits alongside Vertu's famous Concierge Service.

Massimiliano Pogliani, Vertu's Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, said, "VERTU TI is the most rounded product that we have ever designed. The new Android platform and elegant physical presence combined with Vertu's renowned curated benefits and services deliver a unique and exceptional proposition."

Vertu's Head of Global Design, Ignacio Germade said, "VERTU TI is a pivotal product for Vertu. It is where the timelessness of Vertu design meets contemporary technological elements. Long-standing Vertu customers will appreciate the style, the weight and the materials while those yet to experience Vertu products will engage with the clean, elegant lines, superior feel and contemporary operation."

"As Vertu continues to grow, we will develop a design language that will satisfy the large number of our customers that appreciate classic simplicity of ranges such as Signature, while reaching out to new customers with hand crafted, elegant designs and technology that engages and inspires."
Vertu President and CEO, Perry Oosting said, "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 remains uniquely Vertu. 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. There is nothing else like it."

VERTU TI now means that our customers can leave the house in the morning with just this phone in their pocket or bag without the need for any other device."

Each VERTU TI is handmade in England by a single craftsman at Vertu's state-of-the-art headquarters in Hampshire. It is then signed by that craftsman on completion of a rigorous testing and detailing process before being shipped to buyers via one of over 500 stores around the world.
Vertu's global sales turnover rose for the third consecutive year in 2012, continuing a trend that has seen sales growth every year since 2002, barring only 2009. A strong product roadmap is in place to ensure that this trend continues over the coming years.

Vertu testing

• VERTU TI impact test. The sapphire crystal screen withstood a single drop of a 110gm ball bearing. The Vertu minimum standard is one drop of a 64gm ball bearing.
• VERTU TI deformation test. The device is cradled on three points while a force is exerted to bend the case. The device bends less than 1mm when a 500N force (approximately 50KG) is applied.
• 40 Mechanical and environmental tests on every Vertu device, including extreme temperature testing (-40 / +85), torsional strength, tumble testing and humidity.
• Leather accent pieces undergo 17 individual tests to prove their robustness.