March 20 2010
Vertu never fails to surprise. It did so firstly by succeeding in launching a luxury mobile phone at all, let alone inventing a whole new category of luxury goods. Secondly, with a British product, no less, it succeeded in conquering and leading the world in luxury phones. (I was in a small provincial city in China last November which has three Vertu stores. I even saw one man brandishing two Vertu phones: one, I assume, for work; one for home). Thirdly, Vertu has made serious inroads into the most conservative of markets, the UK.
Nonetheless, I was quite shocked by the Vertu V Collection Bluetooth headset. It wasn’t the price tag, which makes it by a long way the most expensive Bluetooth. No, it was that this is a truly beautiful product; the nearest thing I’ve seen to technology as jewellery.
Now you know me and Bluetooth headsets. You might even have the very same built-in prejudices – that they are primarily the unfortunate equipment minicab drivers are obliged to wear and, otherwise, are a kind of mark of oppression, the emblem of those who live at the beck and call of others.
But I think this Vertu falls outside that definition. I would wear and use this – the first time I can say that since the Apple iPhone Bluetooth headset fell out of my ear and down a drain in Mayfair.
Exquisitely made in black resin and stainless steel, the Vertu springs into shape by way of a mechanism I believe is a cantilever. It lives in an elegant two-part resin case, one section of which is its charger base. The case is styled like an oversized Montblanc pen, so can clip to the inside pocket of a jacket, or be stored in its own soft leather sleeve. The headset is subtly Vertu branded, and it seems to whisper that you are that rare person who has a Vertu but chooses not to flash it around and keeps it concealed about their person.
However, the Vertu Bluetooth headset doesn’t only work with a Vertu; it will link up with any Bluetooth-enabled phone. So you could have a boring Nokia or whatever in your bag or coat pocket, and look not just like a Vertu user, but a Vertu user who prefers to keep his or her telephonic über-status symbol concealed.
Technically, the headset is in the upper order, if not exceptional. It’s neither the smallest nor largest around at 46mm folded up in its “on” configuration and weighing 17g. Talk time on one charge is about six hours, but the Montblanc-esque charging “pen” can hold an 8GB micro SD.
The headset sits comfortably in the ear, and it also comes with an ear loop made of a wire of “memory metal”, which remembers the shape of your ears; with or without the wire, it can sit in either ear. The controls are well designed and instinctive. Headset style at last.