Monday, September 3, 2007

Luxury cellphones are turning tech savvy too

When luxury mobile phones first hit the market the goal was simple: make a gadget for those who don’t mind spending upwards of Rs 200,000 on a phone, give a finish that’s exclusive and throw in the diamonds for that snob appeal. Such gadgets fell short of impressing the tech savvy among the super rich.

Things are now changing fast at the top end. While more companies are launching the phones for ultra rich, they are also loading them with features that only money can by. Apart from Vertu (a division of Nokia) new players such as Bang & Olufsen, Gresso, Mobiado and GoldVish have entered the super premium market. Mobile phone manufacturers are partnering with luxury brands to produce a range of premium mobile phones, such as LG and Prada, Dolce & Gabbana (D&G) and Motorola, and Tag Heuer and Modelabs.

But how technically advanced are these? While diamonds are pretty much part of the top end phone, there’s a greater emphasis on smart ware — very exclusive features and exotic designs — are becoming the norm.

Danish electronics maker Bang & Olufsen has hooked up with Samsung to design the sleek but unconventional Serene. It looks like a compact face powder and has a built-in motor to assist the user in opening and closing the phone. However, it requires a special screwdriver to access the battery and the SIM card, and its circular keypad will take time getting used to.

The Lamborghini Nokia 8800 Sirocco is another special edition. It comes with the famous Lamborghini logo engraved on the front and the back, plus ball bearings from the auto company to enable the slider phone mechanism. The Lamborghini phone is a limited edition with only 500 being made.

It will come with Lamborghini graphics as wallpapers, screensavers, ringtones, and even a short video about the Lamborghini. While Gresso from Russia is made of gold and African Blackwood. They will be releasing a collection of five models called the Black Aura, designed in Italy.

Elsewhere in the world, phone makers are catching up — smartly converging luxury and technology. Canadian Mobiado Luminoso claims to be the world’s first 3G luxury mobile phone. The phone will work with any GSM network operator. It has WCDMA 2100 and tri-band GSM coverage on five continents (GSM/EDGE 900/1800/1900).


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