What Goes Into Making The Vertu Aster, A £4,200 Smartphone

Vertu creative director Ignacio Germade on crafting the ultimate lifestyle accessory, complete with your very own concierge service

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It may be exciting now, but let's face it, in six months, everyone in your train carriage is going to own an iPhone 6.

In 2014 if you really want a phone that sets you apart, you need to look at the top end end of the market, at something like the Vertu Aster – where customisable designs, 4G capability, a 5.1 inch sapphire crystal screen with HD display technology and Dolby® Digital Plus surround sound come as standard.

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Oh – and did we mention the luxury concierge function?

To find out what goes into making the phones that make Apple look primative, we spoke with Vertu's creative director Ignacio Germade.


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What does the ‘Classic Concierge’ feature entail?
It means you have the ability to call us 24/7 and have someone from our team of lifestyle managers help you, whether that be with plans for dinner or entertainment. They can do whatever you need, from buying flights to finding hotels. It's free for the first 6 months.

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What’s the starting point when you come to designing a new handset?
It always goes back to understanding our customers and their lifestyles. The new model is simpler, with cleaner lines. It’s very sophisticated, but it’s fairly minimum, and should appeal to customers interested in luxury fashion and design.

How far ahead do you work with designs?
It takes us around 18 months to develop a product. You can imagine we always have to be working on the next one and the next one.

What’s been the most difficult aspect of designing the new phone?
Combining functionality and design so that everything works in a seamless way. I was always having arguments with our MD. I’d say “we need to reduce the phone to this thickness” and he’d say “Yeah, well make the battery smaller!” I'll tell him: “No, no, no – the battery needs to be this power.” “Well get rid of the wireless charging.”  “No no, we need wireless chargingI – it’s really hard to design something that looks simple.

You use sapphire screens, which were rumoured to be on the iPhone 6. Do you know why Apple didn’t go with them?
Sapphire is difficult to work with. It’s taken us 15 years to go from using a square inch of sapphire to making a whole phone screen, and being able to polish it and perfect it. I’m not surprised that other people are having a hard time trying to achieve these things, but for us, it’s an intrinsic part of our product.

What technology are you excited about outside of mobile phones?
Technology is only meaningful when someone uses it. I think we’ve reached a point where it’s about improving the experience you have with technology, rather than bringing in new technology.

How do you select the materials you use for each phone?
It’s a case of suitability and also which materials feed into people’s lifestyles. At the moment we’re using titanium to give us the correct strength and the weight, but titanium isn’t a product you immediately associate with luxury, so we’ve had to work out how to treat it and brush it so that it actually looks good.

Is there a general trend in phone designs at the moment?
Yes. It’s a little bit of a pity. Ten years ago you had so many different designs you could choose from – flip phones, sliding phones – but now it’s almost like everything is becoming the same. Companies are trying to make products that sell hundreds of millions of units, so it’s almost like they’re going for the lowest common denominator. They put a new frame around it and that’s it.

The Vertu Aster is out now. vertu.com


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