With over 50 million iPhone Xs sold since its debut last November, the model is often considered to be the epitome of smartphone tech, and synonymous with a premium lifestyle. With a hefty $1,000 price-tag that offers all-round top-shelf features, and a ‘Say Hello to the Future’ tagline, it’s no surprise many think that. However, the definition of a luxury smartphone is very different. It’s beyond distinctive features and futuristic technology, and pioneering the genre are luxury smartphone-makers like Tonino Lamborghini, Vertu and Belleperre. The highest recorded price for a smartphone is $1,30,000 for the Ulysse Nardin Chairman Diamond Edition. Built by hand, the device runs on kinetic energy and reportedly has close to 3,000 diamonds.
So what really goes into making a luxury smartphone?
Sophisticated security features
Using your $20,000 smartphone on your day-to-day commute can come with a lot of risk. Which makes it essential to keep the firewall up – privacy and security are key in a luxury smartphone. Switzerland-based Sirin Labs’ Solarin is said to feature the world’s most secure in-built smartphone firewall systems. The moment you switch on the device, a dedicated team of analysts monitor the device’s usage and inform you of suspicious activity in real time. This is a world of difference from the mass-produced Blackberry DTEK50, known for being one of the most secure android smartphones, which offers computer-monitored safety features. Other devices in the luxury league include the GSMK 500, which offers military-grade security on your smartphone, and the Finland-based Turing Robotics (named after Alan Turing), which priorities safety and exclusivity with its Sailfish OS.
Gold and diamond indulgences
It’s a common trait for a $6,000 smartphone to be embellished in diamonds and rubies, and to have gold-plated corners. Luxury smartphone manufacturer Vertu’s Signature Touch flexes a rose gold-plated front panel and an intricately hand-assembled diamond panel placed right underneath the speaker. All of this framed within a titanium body. GoldVish, the Swiss bespoke mobile modifier, is known to embellish and ice-out existing iPhone and iWatch models with gold-plated modifications and premium leather straps.
Topline post-purchase service
When you purchase a luxury smartphone, you don’t need to ever visit a service centre because the service centre comes to you. Sirin flies their tech engineers over to whichever part of the world you live in. All of this with a lifetime warranty.
Exclusivity is clearly the cornerstone of a luxury smartphone. The Vertu x Bentley collaboration, which launched in 2016, had a Bentley logo placed above the homescreen, and featured premium leather and diamonds on its skin; it also gave owners super exclusive Bentley services. It was a limited edition of only 2,000 pieces worldwide, with a $9,000 price tag.
It’s never about tech specifications for a luxury smartphone – they are not competing in the race for a faster processor, sharper OS, more space or better camera. It’s a league of its own and thrives on exclusivity more than efficiency or futurism. While most prices here might even compete with the cost of a low-end car, it buys you a smartphone polished in gold, stitched in the rarest of leathers, and a 24/7 concierge service, all packed in a titanium frame.
All images: Courtesy Shutterstock; Bentley x Vertu: Courtesy brand.