Bentley Motors, the iconic British manufacturer, has announced plans to release its first smartphone this fall. The 95-year-old brand will partner with the luxury phonemakers at Vertu - famous for their angular designs and concierge service - to create a model with the sort of luxurious finishes that have made Continental GTs and Flying Spurs popular for decades. For Bentley, the Android device represents a dive into a market it has only dabbled in with miniature key fob phones. For Vertu, which has previously worked with Ferrari and Ermenegildo Zegna, it represents another chance to make a run at the growing statement phone market.
The increasing number of phones released by or in collaboration with prominent car brands speaks to buyers’ increasing desire for choice in a market long dominated by Jonathan Ive’s Apple creations, business-first Blackberries, and enlarged Taiwanese screens. Vertu specializes in adding design details - like a shift gate on the back of its Ascent Ferrari 60 model - so Bentley lovers can expect the new phone to showcase the brand’s famous winged logo and feature prominent nods to the circular headlights, wooden finishes and plush leather. Neither brand has announced a price, but Vertu historically marks up collaborations, which means this might well be a $20,000 phone.
The phone may not boast better software than competitive Android models, but it will be a conversation piece, which is precisely the point. In the age of smartphone ubiquity, it’s easier to make a statement with what you put on the conference room table than what you park in the garage.
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