"I'm not using an-- that's the phone of the poor!"
If that sounds like something you'd say then let me introduce you to your next smartphone. It's called the New Signature Touch and it's the latest luxury device from British brand Vertu. Competition is fierce in the smartphone world, but this 5.2-inch phone separates itself from the pack with a whopping price tag.
The New Signature Touch starts at £6,500, which roughly converts to $10,000 and AU$14,100. I'll give you a moment to let that sink in. Ready? OK, on we go.
How do you even begin to justify such a vast sum of money for a phone? Well, the New Signature Touch makes use of luxury materials like Titanium in its body, it's hand-wrapped in your choice of calf, lizard or alligator skin and its screen is made from a solid lump of super-strong 130-carat sapphire.
It's not just about the design either as this phone is well-stocked with tech. Inside you'll find an octa-core processor, the display has a full HD resolution and there's a 21-megapixel, 4K-capable camera too. Mix in Vertu's included concierge service, which lets you summon a lackey to do your bidding, and you've got yourself one hell of a phone.
Did I mention the price though?
The Vertu New Signature Touch will go on sale globally from mid-October. That only gives you a few weeks to start saving.
Design and display
Vertu hasn't strayed too far from the design scheme it used for the. The front of the phone has an angular V-shape at the top, and the leather back curves around the bottom edge to meet the screen at the front. The leather makes it a chunky thing to hold, although it has a satisfying heft to it which feels reassuringly premium.
The titanium body feels extremely secure to hold and the real hand-stitched leather brings to mind the interior of a luxury car or a fancy briefcase -- both of which you'll need to sell in order to buy this phone. Don't fancy calf leather on your phone? No worries. Why not wrap it in leather from lizards or alligators instead?
It's a busy design, and certainly one you won't see on any other smartphone -- most of which tend to go for a "less is more" approach to aesthetics. Whether you like it or not is of course a matter of personal taste.
The screen is made from solid sapphire crystal, which makes it very resistant to scratches from keys in your pocket. Of course, you'll have your butler carry it for you in a special silk basket, so that won't be problem. Around the sides you'll find a Micro-USB port (no USB Type-C here), volume and power buttons and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left hand side.
The back isn't removable, but there are titanium flaps which open on the back in a "gullwing" fashion, reminiscent of the doors on sports cars from Mercedes AMG and Lamborghini. A small handle tucked into the back lets you open the hatches, under which you'll find the microSD slot on one side and the SIM card tray on the other. The inside of the doors also bears the phone maker's signature.
The phone's 5.2-inch display has a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. On normal smartphones, I would argue that full HD is more than sufficient to make text and images look crisp, and indeed that's what I saw during my time with the phone. Given the price, however, I'd have liked to see an ultra high definition display squashed in, such as the ones we've seen insideor the . Sure, it's not necessary, but neither is titanium and alligator leather, so why not go all out?
Software, processor and camera
The phone arrives running Android 5.1 Lollipop, which Vertu hasn't tinkered with too much. You'll see a few custom wallpapers and app icons, but it's free of the heavy customisation that bogs down a lot of Android phones (I'm looking at you, Samsung). Instead, the interface is mercifully free of clutter and is easy to get to grips with, whether you're an Android veteran or it's the first time you've ever had to use your own phone and you had to ask your accountant what Tinder is.
There are some key Vertu additions to make note of though. Firstly, there's a security app which lets you encrypt your calls and texts (it works in partnership with mobile security specialists Silent Circle). It also allows you to securely wipe your phone if it ever gets lost -- undoubtedly a key selling point to those of you who've made your riches in a less-than-legal way.
Vertu's concierge service is on board too. At the press of a button -- a vivid red button on the side of the phone, in fact -- you'll be connected to a Vertu contact who will provide information or perform tasks for you. Vertu says this is for things like booking hotels, flights and private islands, but I'm curious to see how quickly they could arrange a pizza to be delivered to my house by David Schwimmer on horseback. If they can't manage that, the phone isn't worth the cash.
Inside, the phone is packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor -- an octa-core processor that seemed swift and capable during my hands-on time. There's a decent 64GB of built-in storage and the speakers are certified by Dolby. Around the back is a 21-megapixel camera that can capture 4K video.
I can't possibly fathom why anybody would spend this much money on a luxury phone that will be obsolete and need replacing in a year or two. But then, I also don't understand spending tens of thousands on a watch. Some levels of luxury are simply above the minds of the common folk like me.
If you have managed to find your way into the heady heights of unlimited fortune and consider the new iPhones to be cheap toys bought by low-income bank managers, then the New Signature Touch might be the right phone for you. You can at least rest easy knowing it's packed with a ton of top tech and it's made from materials that the rest of us can barely afford to look at. If that doesn't help you sleep, use Vertu's concierge service to send out for some really good brandy. You know the sort.