Luxury Phone Bling Glimmers Just Beyond Computex

Handmade luxury phone jewelry store stands in sharp contrast to bustling Computex tradeshow floor.

Vertu luxury mobile phones in store window

At the Taiwan 101 shopping mall, the Vertu store sits along a row of high end jewelers and watch companies including Hermes and Omega.

Just a stone’s throw from the giant Computex tradeshow in Taipei, inside the iconic Taiwan 101 building, there is a row of glitzy jewelry stores selling diamond-studded watches, emerald necklaces and platinum earrings.

Not the place one would expect to find a cell phone store, but then again, this is no ordinary mobile phone store. The swank Vertu store sits just across the street from one of the world’s largest tech industry tradeshows. It’s a stark contrast to the cavernous event hall swirling with thousands of vendors hawking everything from cheap Bluetooth keyboards to industrial computer power supplies and waterproof phone cases.

Vertu, a UK-based company, makes super high-end, hand-made Android phones. How high-end? Try around $10,000 U.S. for the latest titanium and leather-wrapped model.

And to be clear, this is not really a phone ‘store.’ Please, it’s a ’boutique.’

Vertu luxury mobile phones behind glass

Vertu phones sit behind glass cases on pedestals, displayed much like the emerald necklaces at the jewelry store next door. Despite signs saying "See, Touch, Hear", clerks in Taipei were reluctant to remove them from the cases.

In the Taipei Vertu Boutique, three different store clerks in short black dresses could not answer a reporter’s question about what was actually inside the phone. It wasn’t clear they even knew what a ‘processor’ or a ‘CPU’ was. The chip question eluded them until Janelle Chen the store’s manager finally stepped in.

“We can’t say,” said Chen. “We do not disclose that.”

Indeed, even the specifications sheet for the latest Vertu Ti RM828v didn’t list the CPU. Marketing materials refer only to a generic “1.7GHz dual-core processor.’ Various web reports and reviews, however, reveal that it is a 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm. Other features include an 8-megapixel main camera with auto focus and twin LED flash, a 1.3-megapixel Skype-compliant front camera, and 64GB of internal memory.

The Vertu Ti was a beautiful thing to behold behind glass, but not actually hold, despite the boutique’s displays proclaiming “See / Touch / Hear.” Chen was unable take one out of the glass case, but she eventually retrieved what appeared to be an earlier version from the back room. She also declined a request to take a photo of either phone.

Vertu Ti luxury mobile phone ad

High-resolution, back-lit photos grace the front of the Vertu boutique store in the Taiwan 101 shopping center in Taipei across the street from the Computex tradeshow.

Vertu phones feature brushed aluminum or titanium cases wrapped in leather with custom Vertu etchings on the back and scratch-proof sapphire crystal screens. The phones are hand-made by a ‘single craftsman,’ according to the company, and feature specially engineered acoustics and special sound cavities “tuned to match the sensitivity of the human ear.” Some include jewels around the front bezel, and Chen said they work with various designers to build what may be the closest thing to working phone ‘art’ in the market.

And they certainly appear durable. In 2005, the company was the first to use carbon fiber in a phone, and a prototype that year was run over by a car and survived, according to the company.

Nebojsa Novakovic of VR-ZONE in town for Computex, said he was familiar with the phones but dismissed them as mostly just executive jewelry.

“I think some people who can afford them buy them just to show them off,” he said, “They probably don’t even make calls with them.”

The phones are sold in the U.S. in places like Shreve Jewelers in San Francisco, shops inside the Palazzo and Wynn Hotels in Las Vegas and, of course, the Vertu Boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Luxury Phone Bling Glimmers Just Beyond Computex

Handmade luxury phone jewelry store stands in sharp contrast to bustling Computex tradeshow floor.

Vertu luxury mobile phones in store window

At the Taiwan 101 shopping mall, the Vertu store sits along a row of high end jewelers and watch companies including Hermes and Omega.

Just a stone’s throw from the giant Computex tradeshow in Taipei, inside the iconic Taiwan 101 building, there is a row of glitzy jewelry stores selling diamond-studded watches, emerald necklaces and platinum earrings.

Not the place one would expect to find a cell phone store, but then again, this is no ordinary mobile phone store. The swank Vertu store sits just across the street from one of the world’s largest tech industry tradeshows. It’s a stark contrast to the cavernous event hall swirling with thousands of vendors hawking everything from cheap Bluetooth keyboards to industrial computer power supplies and waterproof phone cases.

Vertu, a UK-based company, makes super high-end, hand-made Android phones. How high-end? Try around $10,000 U.S. for the latest titanium and leather-wrapped model.

And to be clear, this is not really a phone ‘store.’ Please, it’s a ’boutique.’

Vertu luxury mobile phones behind glass

Vertu phones sit behind glass cases on pedestals, displayed much like the emerald necklaces at the jewelry store next door. Despite signs saying "See, Touch, Hear", clerks in Taipei were reluctant to remove them from the cases.

In the Taipei Vertu Boutique, three different store clerks in short black dresses could not answer a reporter’s question about what was actually inside the phone. It wasn’t clear they even knew what a ‘processor’ or a ‘CPU’ was. The chip question eluded them until Janelle Chen the store’s manager finally stepped in.

“We can’t say,” said Chen. “We do not disclose that.”

Indeed, even the specifications sheet for the latest Vertu Ti RM828v didn’t list the CPU. Marketing materials refer only to a generic “1.7GHz dual-core processor.’ Various web reports and reviews, however, reveal that it is a 1.7GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm. Other features include an 8-megapixel main camera with auto focus and twin LED flash, a 1.3-megapixel Skype-compliant front camera, and 64GB of internal memory.

The Vertu Ti was a beautiful thing to behold behind glass, but not actually hold, despite the boutique’s displays proclaiming “See / Touch / Hear.” Chen was unable take one out of the glass case, but she eventually retrieved what appeared to be an earlier version from the back room. She also declined a request to take a photo of either phone.

Vertu Ti luxury mobile phone ad

High-resolution, back-lit photos grace the front of the Vertu boutique store in the Taiwan 101 shopping center in Taipei across the street from the Computex tradeshow.

Vertu phones feature brushed aluminum or titanium cases wrapped in leather with custom Vertu etchings on the back and scratch-proof sapphire crystal screens. The phones are hand-made by a ‘single craftsman,’ according to the company, and feature specially engineered acoustics and special sound cavities “tuned to match the sensitivity of the human ear.” Some include jewels around the front bezel, and Chen said they work with various designers to build what may be the closest thing to working phone ‘art’ in the market.

And they certainly appear durable. In 2005, the company was the first to use carbon fiber in a phone, and a prototype that year was run over by a car and survived, according to the company.

Nebojsa Novakovic of VR-ZONE in town for Computex, said he was familiar with the phones but dismissed them as mostly just executive jewelry.

“I think some people who can afford them buy them just to show them off,” he said, “They probably don’t even make calls with them.”

The phones are sold in the U.S. in places like Shreve Jewelers in San Francisco, shops inside the Palazzo and Wynn Hotels in Las Vegas and, of course, the Vertu Boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.