Vertu CEO Watson welcomes Solarin to the “luxury” market

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Israeli firm’s new £9,500 handset is to provide Vertu with true competition for the first time

Handset manufacturer Vertu hopes new entrant Sirin Labs will help boost awareness and drive sales in the “luxury smartphone” market.

Vertu, formerly owned by Nokia, has specialised in the luxury space since 1998 with stand- ard un-customised handset prices ranging between £9,500 and £23,000.

Israeli manufacturer Sirin unveiled its first device, the Solarin (below), earlier this month, with prices starting at £9,500 and direct competition to Vertu.

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According to Vertu CEO Gordon Watson, who joined the company in February, Vertu has dominated the segment uncontested for more than 18 years, and welcomes the challenge.

“It’s been disappointing that so many players have come into this space and left without contributing anything,” Watson told Mobile News. “Sirin is likely to have more staying power, add- ing more voice and credibility.”

“Best phone ever made”

From the outset at least, Sirin LABS seems intent on making its mark.

Backed by a $72 million private investment, the Android run Solarin made its first appearance during a packed event in central London this month hosted by TV’s Countdown star Rachel Riley.

The manufacturer’s co-founder Moshe Hogeg, who was speaking on stage in the opening address, went as far to describe the handset as the “best phone ever made” thanks to its design and features, something it suggests its rivals compromise.

“We love technology and we love to innovate,” said Hogeg. “We started Sirin Labs to push the buttons of technologies. We wanted to change the rules. We thought we should play the game backwards and shouldn’t let price determine the advance technologies that are available. We wanted quality, technology and security. Solarin in my opinion is the best phone ever made.”

Privacy

The biggest USP for the Solarin is its “military grade” security – with the firm stating it would be largely targeted towards leading business decision makers and celebrities (Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy attended the launch, although played no part). The device was hailed as the most secure in existence today using software from ‘Zimperium,’ protecting from threats carried over data, ‘Proton Mail’ providing end-to-end encryption on emails. It also includes security from Kool Span, which provides end-to-end encryption on calls and texts which can be activated by sliding a switch found on the rear of the device.

Cyber attack fears

“If you have money you put it in a bank,” explained Hogeg. “If you have jewellery you put it in a safe. But the most important asset today is information, it’s our privacy. That was our main focus.”

Co-founder Tal Cohen, who joined Hogeg on stage, added: “The target audience are business leaders, entrepreneurs, financial firm partners and basically people who have a lot of confidential information and have a lot of communication needs.

“Cyber-attacks are endemic across the globe. This trend is on the increase. Just one attack can severely harm reputations and finances. Solarin is pioneering new, uncompromising privacy measures to provide customers with greater confidence and the reassurance necessary to handle business-critical information.”

Features

On top of the security functions, Sirin also claims the phone has an additional number of ‘world- leading features’. This includes a 23.8 megapixel camera on the rear, four-tone flash, front-facing flash and a 5.5-inch Gorilla Glass 4 2K screen. Gorilla Glass manufactures screens designed to be more durable than conventional phone displays.

It also has three-bass boosted speakers linked to a smart amplifier. According to the manufacturer, this delivers “state-of-the-art” sound that maximises volume but controls distortion that might otherwise ruin overall sound quality. Other notable features include a 4,000mAh battery and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. It is IP54 level certified, meaning it’s both dust and waterproof.

Cohen concluded: “We can offer them tomorrow’s technology, today. Cost doesn’t influence our decision making; optimal functionality and quality do.”

The handset is available both online and in-store at Sirin Labs Mayfair store from June 1. Harrods and Selfridges will both stock the device from June 30.

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