Vertu Constellation: A $6,000 leather-clad Android phone (hands-on)

The Vertu Constellation matches leather, titanium, and sapphire glass with an astonishingly high price tag.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
3 min read

Editors' note: When we first published this First Take, we incorrectly listed the US price of the Constellation as $6,300.

Have you recently struck oil? Won the big bucks in the lottery, or sold your 40 percent stake in Apple? Well do I have the phone for you. It's the Vertu Constellation, an Android phone with a ludicrous $5,950 price tag.

It'll be available from Vertu's site in the US within the next few weeks and in the UK in the next few days for £4,000.

The reason for that sky-high price is almost entirely down to its design. The back of the phone is covered in real calf's leather that Vertu explains has been chosen from one of Europe's oldest tanneries specifically for its soft texture. That's not cheap plastic painted to look like metal around the edge, either, that's titanium -- one of the lightest and strongest metals in the world.

Each phone is hand-built in Hampshire, England, so Vertu reckons the build quality is extremely high. There's certainly no doubt at all that it feels like an extraordinarily luxurious phone when it's sat in your hand. The leather looks and feels great, and there's absolutely zero creaking or flex in the body. You think your metal iPhone 5S feels good? This is in a whole other world.

Vertu Constellation: A $6,000 phone for the filthy rich (pictures)

See all photos

I'm not sure how long that leather would stay looking good in my care, but if you've just spent thousands on a phone, you'd probably take good care of it. The screen is covered with sapphire glass, so it should at least be able to hold off scratches from your keys in your pockets.

It might look superb, but internally, the phone really doesn't impress. It packs a 1.7GHz dual-core processor and it's running the older Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean software. The display has a 720p resolution, and there's no LTE connectivity.

Those are middle-of-the-road specs even by last year's phone standards. Up against the blisteringly powerful quad-core, full HD beasts like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Sony Xperia Z1, it's somewhat laughable. Still, I'm not entirely sure a busy bank CEO is going to need much power to play demanding games like Asphalt 8 anyway. For the majority of day-to-day activities such as e-mailing, tweeting, and buying yachts, it'll probably have plenty of juice.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It does come with a 13-megapixel camera around the back, which in numbers terms at least is something to rival the Galaxy S4. We haven't been able to take it for a spin, so we'll leave the verdict for when we give the phone the review treatment -- under supervision by armed guards, no doubt.

The Vertu Ti -- the Constellation's even pricier sibling -- comes with a full concierge service for you to call on whenever you'd like. The Constellation doesn't get you that full service, but it does give you unlimited access to all iPass Wi-Fi points around the world, encrypted VoIP, a curated guide to premium nearby places of interest, and a security service that lets you send out a silent alarm.

With its premium build, immense price tag, and access to security services, this really isn't a phone aimed at the casual Android fan. However, if your house has more pools than beds, your car is in fact five helicopters, and you call Mark Zuckerberg "Zuck-dawg" when you play tennis together, this could be the phone for you.