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Vertu is a spin-off of Nokia, concentrating on manufacturing luxury mobile communication products like phones and headsets. They have a number of mobile phone models starting from the most expensive Signature Diamond collection with 18 carat gold/white gold/platinum and Pave diamonds, followed by the Signature Model 2006 collection, without the diamonds, and the more affordable sports-car inspired Ascent series with hand-embossed leather. Right before the Ascent series is the new Constellation series, in which we'll make our trip today.
The Constellation series borrows its name from the 1940s and 1950s aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Corporation, more popularly known for their SR-71 Blackbird. The Lockheed Constellation aircraft was also used by Air India and the Indian Navy at one point in time. Principal designer of Vertu, Frank Nuovo, pays tribute to the Constellation by designing the microphone opening of the phone to match the symbol of the propeller of the aircraft. If you turn the phone around, you’ll also see nine screws that seem to resemble the rivets on WWII period aircraft, but actually the screws are also on other non-Constellation series phones
The aircraft similarity doesn't end there. The Constellation also comes with features targetted at frequent flying businessmen, such as real-time flight tracking and conversion of currency on the go.
There are three models in the Constellation series – one with pure 18 carat gold plating and two stainless steel ones called 'polished steel' and 'satin steel'. We got the 18 carat gold plated one for review in our labs. The rear side has 'top-class' European leather in a variety of colors. The display is covered by sapphire crystal that is scratch proof, ensuring that the phone will not lose its sheen even years after usage. The matching ceramic keypad is designed well and offers good tactile feedback. But the whole phone is very heavy at around 165gm, which is about as heavy as the N91.
A phone in this category is surely not promoted by its features. The modest specification sheet includes quad-band GSM/GRPS/EDGE network support with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Since this is actually a Nokia phone on the inside, the OS or UI is Nokia’s popular Series 40, which is probably the most popular UI in mid-level phones these days. This is the updated UI which also makes use of the middle navipad button. I may be punished for pointing this out, but the phone has no camera or FM radio tuner, in case you were wondering.
The sound quality of the phone is pretty sharp and it has that 'rich' tinge that the specially crafted ringtones do absolute justice to. That could be the 'advanced Yamaha polyphonic hardware' at work. The first few ringtones sound absolutely, luxuriously wealthy, while the rest are mostly standard sounding tones. If I had this phone, I'd keep the first normal 'ring' tone, which I think sounds the best. The tones are also pretty loud.But this is not just a shiny gold phone with great ringtones. The Vertu Constellation comes with the Concierge service that's like your personal secretary who is just one phone click away. Need to know a good restaurant in town? Need tickets for theater or the movies? Want to send a gift anywhere in the world? Your Concierge will do it for you. Unfortunately, this Concierge service is not yet available in India, though Vertu is planning on changing that sometime soon.
Finally, the price. This Vertu Constellation costs Rs. 9,22,000. You're not paying for the 18-carat gold. You're not paying for the sapphire cystal display. You're not paying for the Bluetooth and Nokia Series 40 UI. You're not even paying for the doorstep, one click Concierge service. You're paying Rs. 9,22,000 for the look on people's faces when you pull this phone out of your pocket. You're paying for the way the conversation changes after that. You're paying for the way people look at you after they've seen you use the phone. You're not paying, you're earning.