There is no cellphone more anticipated this year than the next generation of the Apple iPhone. But for some high rollers, the ultimate iPhone is a diamond-encrusted version from London jeweler Amosu. At 20,000 pounds ($39,600), the creation ranks among the world's most expensive phones.
Even a $40,000 iPhone seems tame compared with the 8800 Arte from Austrian designer Peter Aloisson. The luxury Nokia phone is posh to begin with, featuring designer ringtones and wallpapers and an 18-karat white gold finish. Encased in more than 680 pink and white brilliant-cut diamonds--sparing only the screen and slide-out keyboard--the embellished phone is a marvel. And, at 85,000 euros ($134,000), it's also the price of a college education.
These super high-end cellphones are a fascinating anomaly within the cellphone industry. While handset makers like Nokia, Samsung and Motorola churn out millions of $40 phones for developing markets such as China, Russia and India, smaller firms like Amosu and Peter Aloisson focus on serving a much smaller population at the other end of the market.
It's a trend that shows no signs of halting. Fashion firms and automakers continue to show interest on the designer side. Last week, Christian Dior unveiled a $5,000 phone that resembles a sleek cosmetic compact. Watchmaker Tag Heuer is coming out with a $6,000 phone with a crocodile leather back. Porsche and Lamborghini have phones. Ferrari collaborated with Vertu, a UK-based luxury phone manufacturer owned by Nokia, on a special-edition phone last year.
Luxury firms say the steady march of cellphones across the globe is further expanding the market by popularising the notion of luxury phones. "Mobile phones are becoming more and more an object of desire for people," says Alberto Torres, president of Vertu.