Take a good look at Vertu from inside out, hear the real Vertu ringtones.
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Five years ago, a Nokia subsidiary called Vertu introduced the world's first luxury
cell phone. The Vertu Signature became popular with celebrity: Gwyneth Paltrow,
Madonna, Tom Ford and David Beckham all own them, but for mere mortals,
even ones who drive Mercedes-Benzes and own plasma TVs, the price tag
(from $5,750 to $26,550) could be daunting. While Signature remains its flagship,
Vertu is launching Ascent on April 2004 a model with styling and price a wee
bit closer to Planet Earth.
As you might expect, the $3,850 Ascent has class.
Lightweight at six ounces, it has a balanced heft you might associate with a
well-made handgun. It is made of ceramic, stainless steel and a durable alloy
called Liquid metal, finished with hand-sewn leather and a screen of
sapphire crystal, a material second only to diamond in hardness.
More masculine than the slender, elongated Signature, Ascent is a fit for
men who collect cars and wear watches by Breitling or Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Surprisingly, the Ascent is not for technophiles of any kind, not even those
of elevated financial status. Like Signature, the Ascent was designed with
simplicity in mind. To the designers, that meant leaving out anything that
might possibly confuse the owner, including perks commonly found in much
cheaper phones like Bluetooth wireless for hands-free headsets and
voice-operated systems like the one in the 2004 Acura TL, or a browser
for checking e-mail, weather or movie times. You can send SMS messages,
but there is no way to take and send photos and other multimedia files.
To make up for at least some of those shortcomings, the phone comes with
a free year of Vertu Concierge service. (After a year, the service will charge
an annual fee, but pricing has yet to be determined.) Instead of checking
movie times on the phone, you just press a button and a human does it for
you. These London-based "global advisers" are available at all hours of the
day or night, and can handle travel and entertainment arrangements as well as
"international assistance" worldwide. They will not, however, read you your e-mail.
A note: Vertu does not provide the actual phone service. In the United States,
you would have to subscribe to one of the GSM carriers: AT&T Wireless, Cingular
or T-Mobile and then use the SIM card associated with that account.