Vertu's Aster Luxury Phone Tries to Survive on Style

Forgotten in the era of iPhones, Vertu turns from gems to leather

A decade ago, Vertu made its name selling diamond-studded mobile phones to the nouveaux riches, especially in Asia, the Middle East, and Russia. Established in 1998 as a subsidiary of Nokia, the company was guided by the notion that a glitzy, jewel-encrusted cell phone ought to sell for as much as a Patek Philippe watch. In technology, though, Vertu phones lagged the competition. Its smartphones were pretty, but they weren’t that smart. The company’s flagship product, the Vertu Signature, still has a tiny screen and a button keypad. (Granted, a button keypad embedded with about 5 carats of rubies.)

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