Vertu Constellation hands-on, we handle the £4,200 fashion phone

There are moments in tech when we're left wondering, "What the heck?" And Vertu's latest Constellation smartphone is definitely one such moment. As much as we try and join up the stars the only pattern we can see is one that spells out "pricey". For the Constellation costs £4,200.

But this isn't a mainstream phone - this is a fashion phone. It's a symbol; a statement piece that's akin to the smartphone equivalent of a Rolex watch.

Vertu, a British company, knows its market position. At the Constellation launch at London's One Mayfair there were designer dresses, fashion photographers, promotional animal-people (no, really, dressed in all-too-real animal masks) and - the main event that we'd come to take a look at - the smartphone itself.

The Constellation isn't mucking about when it comes to a high-quality finish: there's no plastic-back faux leather design here, instead it's all sapphire crystal coatings, grade 5 titanium casings and calf leather. Vertu hand crafts and constructs its phones in Hampshire. How about that?

The Constellation has a 4.3-inch 1280 x 720 pixel screen that's coated in a 5.1-inch sheet of sapphire crystal. It's super-hard, scratch-resistant - except from diamond, - which obviously you'll have lying around - and therefore super-expensive too. Not that we took our keys to it to test.

Sturdy is the name of the game here. It's no surprise the grade 5 titanium casing is so strong - it's the same stuff used to make aviation engine parts such as turbines.

In the hand the calfskin leather has a tactile feel that no other smartphone we've handled has. Visually the orange version we played around with has a look of trademark Hermes. So now you can match a phone to those designer handbags. There are other colours available - black, brown, beige and raspberry - and each phone comes with its own leather carry pouch included in the box.

All that's well and good, but how does the Constellation feel as a phone? Much like any other Android 4.2 experience really. Vertu has sugar-coated the interface with a fancy clock and some of its own app access points, including recommendations and a security hub offering all manner of encryption via Kaspersky Labs and more. If security is your number one then there's a lot of good in that, we have to say.

Speed-wise we're sure the dual-core Snapdragon 1.7Ghz CPU will deliver a decent amount of power: it's not top-of-the-range but we were too distracted by the Vertu Life app, which brings up recommendations, including map-based exclusives around the globe. "Book a VIP box for Barcelona vs. Real Madrid". If you insist.

So there you have it. Mad, bad, beautiful to some, obscene to others, we're sure. We love that the Constellation is made in the UK, even if we could never afford to buy one.

The Vertu Constellation is available from October, priced £4,200 in the UK, 4,900 euro in mainland Europe, and $6,800 in the US. Bargains all round.



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