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Sapphires are a nerd's best friend

Motorola has unveiled a ritzy new addition to its line-up, complete with jewels and 700 individual components.

Joseph Hanlon Special to CNET News
Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies.
Joseph Hanlon
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We'd been wondering where Motorola has been spending all its money. It turns out the company has been splashing out on jewels.

(Credit: Motorola)

In the face of hard times we had expected Motorola to try its hand at re-inventing the RAZR, a low-to-mid price point handset with mass appeal. Instead, those crazy dudes at Moto have taken the wrappings off the AURA, a handset with an unorthodox design and screen made from a 62-carat sapphire crystal.

The highlight here is the AURA's circular display and swivelling opening mechanism employing 130 ball bearings to ensure a fluid movement. We're not convinced either feature is an improvement on standard slides or flips, and square screens definitely give a larger viewing area, but the design looks fascinating nonetheless.

In terms of tech, the AURA features a 2-megapixel camera and Bluetooth, but no 3G network support, Wi-Fi or GPS. While fashionistas considering the AURA probably don't care for high-end connectivity, the lack of 3G will certainly hamper Moto's efforts to sell the AURA in Australia, given the network infrastructure available.

Also, if you're the kind of person who forks out for a bejewelled mobile you're probably the kind of person who likes taking pictures (of yourself), so a higher-res camera wouldn't have gone astray.

The Motorola AURA will be available in Australia in December and will be priced at around AU$2,990 (US$1,999), though we'll have to wait and see how the roller-coaster exchange rate effects that figure as we get closer to release.