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Costliest mobile phones now in India!
V Kannan in Mumbai | November 30, 2004
The one good thing about the prices of cell phone models is that they always go down some time after launch. That's the way of price cycles in the gizmo world -- most of the time.
But how costly can they get? Well, very, very, very would be an understatement.
Vertu, the super luxurious line from the eponymous Nokia firm, can cost a bomb. Its top end model costs the same as an average flat in a Mumbai suburb -- Rs 17.22 lakh (Rs 1.72 million).
So why is it so costly? Is it made of diamonds? Well, almost.
The brainchild of Frank Nuovo, a design guru at Nokia, the Vertu range comes in stainless steel, gold, white gold and platinum. It is sheathed in the same leather used in Rolls Royces, and the face is scratch-proof sapphire.
Ruby-embedded keypad ensure precise dialling pressure. Vertu offers two ranges in India -- Signature and Ascent. The Ascent range starts at Rs 242,000, while the Signature range can put you back by anything between Rs 371,000 and Rs 17.22 lakh.
Signature line's internal design features more than 400 mechanical parts, while the Ascent phones comprise over 150 parts. Each key on the phone sits on two jewelled bearings.
And it's not just the phone, stupid. Vertu, the company, offers its customers a concierge facility. It's something like an exclusive membership. The facility provides a Vertu owner real-time assistance for any problems related to his handset -- abroad, the concierge also gets you cinema tickets among many other things at the touch of a bejewelled button. Technologically, Vertu is no thingamajig.
The dual band does the basic functions of receiving and making calls and sending SMSes. Though it can also receive fax messages, it is not MMS compatible nor GPRS/WAP compatible -- for now. This is because Vertu is banking only on proven technology.
So who's buying? A lot of moneybag industrialists and Bollywood personalities, though officials at the Regent Store, which sells the phones in India through its Mumbai and Delhi outlets, play coy when it comes to naming or numbering clients.
Abhishekh Bachchan is rumoured to have a piece, as do pop divas Madonna and Mariah Carey. The bootilicious Jennifer Lopez is said to own three.
But never mind, ye lesser mortals, don't lose heart. There are still some snazzy doohickeys to be had.
The new Nokia 9500 Communicator is worth the Rs 41,300 you would pay for it. It offers high-capacity built-in memory -- 80 MB, plus a multimedia card slot for even more storage space.
It can work with office documents not just email with attachments and memos, but presentations and excel sheets (MS Office 97 onwards) too. With Nokia PC Suite and OMA Data Synchronization, you can easily exchange data between your Nokia 9500 Communicator and a compatible PC.
The stylish Sony P910i, priced at Rs 39,995 is a mobile phone, PDA and digital camera with video functions. It has a fully featured keyboard on the back of the flip and a touch screen.
The recently launched SonyEriccson S700i comes with a 1.3 megapixels integrated CCD camera. At Rs 32,995, the phone can store photos, video clips and any other data with the memory stick duo available with the phone kit. The company claims that data can also be transferred to other Sony memory stick-compatible products.
Then of course, there's the industrial-looking BlackBerrys. The 7230 and 7730 models are available through Airtel, priced between Rs 29,990 and Rs 32,990, respectively. They offer email, SMS, Internet browser and organiser applications. They operate on 900/1800/1900 MHz GSM/GPRS wireless networks, and allow international roaming.
Motorola has also unleashed the Moto Razr V3 smart phone, which comes for about Rs 38,000. It, too, is the whole deal and then some, such as a novel, chemically etched keypad. The company has also taken the wraps off the Mpx200, which boasts of web access with its pocket Internet Explorer.
One can download music, video clips from the net and transfer files from the PC to the phone in a, well, flash. It costs Rs 24,000. Priced on a par is the Nokia 6670, with its 8 MB internal dynamic memory. It takes pictures with an integrated 1 megapixel camera, and even records 10-minute video clips with audio.
More than just video playback , it's the piece's 'Movie Director' function that's a killer -- it allows one to combine video clips, add music or change styles. It is Bluetooth2 compatible and has a USB port. And yes, the phone can also browse the Internet.
So which is the cheapest among the costliest?
Perhaps the Samsung D410. For Rs 22,600, you get a slider handset with a VGA camera that rotates 180 degrees and facilitates text inputs in English, Hindi, Tamil and Marathi, plus many more.Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and there are innumerable other models that exist within these price ranges with many abilities. But the point is, if you have a thick wad ready to buy a handset, you have to start somewhere, right?
The world's most expensive Vertu mobile phones on display at a showroom in Singapore. Photo: Jimin Lai / AFP / Getty Images