WITHIN 10 HOURS of receiving my loaner unit of the Vertu Signature Touch, I almost dropped it on a marble floor. It would have been bad. It would have been really bad.
You see, the Vertu Signature Touch starts at $10,300. That's hard to ignore, even if the phone actually is pretty good. The cost is practically part of the phone’s feature set; Vertu says the Signature Touch is for “high-net-worth individuals,” those who value exclusivity and standing out above all else. The one I tested was the bargain-bin version; there are versions that cost as much as $21,900. It’s a luxury car, a luxury watch, a luxury handbag. Normal consumer logic does not apply.
If the phone had hit the floor, it may well have survived the impact. Its 4.7-inch touchscreen is coated with a pricey sheet of sapphire crystal glass, making it nearly impossible to scratch. It can take anything short of a diamond to the screen and remain unscathed, but it can shatter just like normal glass if you drop it. There was some weight behind that sapphire crystal glass too---the Signature Touch has a heavy-duty titanium frame. Prior to my reflexes kicking in, I took a nanosecond to appreciate how beautiful the phone looked floating in midair. Sapphire and titanium glistened, rotating in zero gravity, unbefouled by human touch. Maximum luxe.
I made a miracle catch, then sat in silence for two minutes. I felt the way you feel when you tip back in a chair too far and stop yourself from falling backward at the last moment. It was pure anxiety, a cold reminder that a $10,300 phone will not suspend Murphy’s Law nor the laws of physics. You can still drop this thing and break it, you can still leave it in a cab, and you can still forget it’s in your pocket when you jump in a pool.
I’ve done all those things with phones, and that’s one of many reasons I’m not the target market for the Vertu Signature Touch. Like most people, I also can’t afford or justify its purchase. The value-shopper in me gets nauseated just thinking about it. I’m too self-conscious to use it. I’m too self-deprecating. It would clash with my carefully curated laid-back wardrobe. We were the Odd Couple, me and the Vertu.
Let’s pretend, though. Let’s pretend a phone that costs as much as an OLED TV is reasonable and well within everybody’s phone-buying budget. Let’s pretend this is just another phone, built to compete with the iPhones and Nexuses and Galaxys of the world. Does it stack up? Hell yes it does. Sort of.
I really have no idea.
The Signature Touch’s Concierge service is what sets it apart from other phones. It's free for the first year, then jumps to around $3,000 a year. Concierge makes the phone more like an American Express Black Card or a diplomatic passport. It works like this: You request (legal and somewhat reasonable) things via the Concierge app, and then a real, live person makes them happen. You basically have a personal assistant on call at all times. A little button on the side of the phone fires up the Concierge app directly. The assistant who helped me was Celine. She was great.
To commence my Vertu experience, the company offered to book me a dinner reservation at the members-only CORE:Club to show how the Concierge could gain access to exclusive places. I declined that offer, as I wanted to test the Concierge using my own requests.