Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Vertu's new Constellation is its second Android phone, and you still can't afford it

With the Ti liberating Vertu from the Symbian shackles, it was only a matter of time before the luxury phone maker released its second Android device. The Constellation, as it's called (instead of Constellation V as listed by the FCC), takes a small but bold step away from Vertu's usual design language, as it lacks the iconic ceramic pillow on the earpiece. What it gains instead is the largest piece of tough sapphire glass that Vertu -- or any phone maker for that matter -- has ever crafted, as well as a layer of soft but durable calf leather wrapping around the Grade 5 titanium body. It'll also come in five colors: dark brown, orange (our favorite so far), black, light brown and cherry.

Vertu's CEO Massimiliano Pogliani told us that this "less is more" approach is to have a more neutral, less showy offer that he believes will appeal to a larger audience.

"It tested extremely well [in study groups] in China and Russia," said the exec. "In terms of design and appearance, it is being luxury but not too bling, too wild, too pushy, so I'm very happy and very confident."

Of course, the relatively more affordable €4,900 (about $6,630) Constellation will co-exist with the more masculine Ti that comes with extra goodies.

"The service proposition is also different," continued Pogliani. "You want the full monty, concierge? You go for the Ti. You want a more easy approach, still belong to the group with privileged access, sleekier design, more unisex? You go for the Constellation."

In terms of specs, the Constellation is actually slightly more powerful than the Ti. For one, it comes with a newer but still lightly customized Android 4.2, which runs on top of a larger 4.3-inch 720p display and a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 SoC -- but with a more powerful graphics processor than the Ti's MSM8260A, so this is likely the MSM8260A Pro with Adreno 320. There are also a 13-megapixel camera, a 1.3-megapixel front imager, a larger 1,800mAh battery (which is, sadly, still dwarfed by many new phones) and the usual radios like NFC, WiFi plus Bluetooth.

Alas, you only get 32GB of built-in storage instead of 64GB, and there's still no LTE radio to please the speed freaks (though this is good news for the battery), as there's no LTE service in many of Vertu's active markets. The pin-eject SIM tray is also a slight let-down compared to Vertu's more convenient pop-out back panel on previous models, so hopefully the latter is here to stay.

As part of the Vertu Certainty offering, the Constellation comes with a complimentary subscription to iPass global WiFi hotspot service, as well as an advanced version of Kaspersky anti-virus app. Users can also sign up with security company PSG to enable personal tracking and an alert button on the phone, which can be very handy if you're entering a high risk area -- especially for insurance purposes. Like the Ti, the newer phone also supports Silent Circle's encrypted VoIP call service, and it'll soon include encrypted instant messaging, too.

For those interested, the Constellation will be available in select Vertu boutiques starting this month, but you're advised to make an appointment ahead of time should you wish to check it out. You'll probably also want to start looking into suitcases that can fit all your cash.

Source: Vertu

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