If you're going to shell out $9,900 or more on a smartphone, you're either nuts or you've really made it in life. Or both. Either way, Vertu's done its part by updating its flagship luxury smartphone line, the Signature Touch, with pretty much all the best specs available in the current market. As CEO Max Pogliani put it, this "is the most complete Vertu smartphone that we have ever produced." Most notably, this new titanium device runs on Android 5.1 and packs an octa-core Snapdragon 810 chipset with 4GB of RAM, along with 64GB of internal storage plus another 64GB on the included microSD card (expandable up to 2TB). Funny how at a time when mainstream players like Samsung, Xiaomi and OnePlus are staying away from microSD expansion, Vertu found no issues with this feature and has therefore chosen to side with spec-hungry folks like us this time.
"It is the most complete Vertu smartphone that we have ever produced."
While this new model may look similar to its predecessor, it is slightly bigger and heavier thanks to its larger 5.2-inch 1080p LCD -- a notable jump from the old 4.7-inch offering -- and thus a larger piece of scratch-proof sapphire screen. The more generous 3,160 mAh battery may have made a contribution here as well. Other not-so-obvious additions here include Quick Charge 2.0, support for more LTE bands and up to 300 Mbps of downlink via carrier aggregation. Don't worry, the cool ceramic ear pillow, ruby key, front-facing stereo speakers, Qi wireless charging, NFC and aptX Bluetooth audio on the previous model are here to stay.
Moving on to cameras, the main imager has been upgraded to a 21-megapixel resolution with f/2.2 aperture (though f/2.0 à la Moto X Pure Edition would be better), a dual-tone LED flash, phase detection auto-focus and 4K video recording. The front-facing camera, on the other hand, is stuck with the same old 2.1-megapixel resolution, so hopefully there's at least some improvement in image quality. To our surprise, gone is the Hasselblad partnership, but Vertu has since recruited ArcSoft to focus on the camera's software. We'll just have to wait and see if the results are any good.
The most noticeable design change is on the phone's back plate, where you can twist the round latch to flip open the new "dramatic" gull-wing doors to access the Nano SIM slot and microSD slot. As before, under the right flap, you'll find the laser-etched signature of the craftsman who was solely responsible for your handmade device back in Church Crookham, England. There's also space on other parts of the back plate for personal engraving, because if you're paying so much for a smartphone, you might as well make it truly yours, right?
Of course, we haven't forgotten the most important element of Vertu phones: services. With the new Signature Touch, Vertu's "Dedicated Concierge" -- a service that provides a single point of contact to act as your personal assistant -- is now complimentary for 18 months instead of just 12. According to Pogliani, this feature has proven to be a big driver for customer loyalty and likeness to repurchase a Vertu handset, especially since he drastically improved the relevance, quality, frequency and number of privileges offered to his customers over the last two years. Other features such as encrypted communication by Silent Circle and global WiFi access by iPass are still included.
"With a growing global appreciation and understanding of the term 'luxury tech', the opportunities ahead of us are many," the exec added.
The new Signature Touch will be available globally from mid-October, with prices ranging from £6,500 (about $9,900) all the way to £13,700 (about $20,900), depending on your combination of colors and materials: Jet Calf, Garnet Calf, Grape Lizard, Pure Jet Lizard, Jet Alligator, Pure Navy Alligator, Clous de Paris Alligator and Pure Jet Red Gold.