Is the New Vertu Constellation Just a Gussied Up and Dumbed Down Nokia C7?

Vertu is now taking reservations for the newest Constellation, their first touch-screen model, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nokia C7. Okay, the uncanny resemblance is actually an intentional resemblance, as I have it on direct authority from a Vertu rep that this is the phone the Constellation is “most like”. Now obviously it is nothing new for Vertu to offer a phone with many similarities to currently available Nokias (witness the Vertu Constellation Quest), but in my ownership experience there are always a few disparities between the Nokia version and the Vertu version, and it bothers me.

Let’s start with the camera. On my Vertu Quest, I find it odd that there is no way to really pinpoint and focus on a particular spot when lining up an about-to-be-snapped photo. In other words, I don’t have the little focus-box or “cross” on the screen that most other smartphone cameras have. I’ve learned to deal with it, but I would rather be able to pick my focal point! Vertus don’t have Carl Zeiss optics, or if any of them do it certainly isn’t mentioned anywhere, and yet so many of the Nokia phones do! Nokia has long been recognized as being the phone with the best camera; Vertu? Not so much, and why is that? Then there is the fact that many of the programs that should work on my particular model, simply don’t — or rather won’t because something is not allowing them to. This is especially unfair [I know, I know … the world is not far!] considering that the Quest is (after all) running S60, and it’s basically just a mashup of the Nokia e71e72, or e63 handsets. And yes, I know that the Concierge button is there for me to press if I ever need something that I can’t do on my phone, but should I really have to call Concierge to ask them to check in for me on Foursquare? Really?!

But anyway.

So this is the Nokia C7. It looks pretty sexy, right? As long as you don’t mind that it is running Symbian ^3 AKA “Anna”, or that it is technically last years model, it’s a pretty bad-ass phone. I can’t help but think that the C7 would be amazing were it running Windows Phone 7, which we are all expecting to see showing up on Nokia smartphones devices eventually.

Take a look at these specs, and then read some of the descriptors from the Nokia site regarding the C7:

Small in size, big on performance – Nokia C7 has it all. This powerful smartphone brings together polished stainless steel and real glass in a slim, compact design. Everything looks clear and bright on the AMOLED full-touch display, with vibrant colours and details brought to life. And straight away you’ll notice just how good it feels in your hand as you type or browse.

This is where it all begins. From day one your home screen is live and always up to date. New emails, the latest Facebook and Twitter feeds, news headlines and much more – everything you need at a glance. And simply add shortcuts to the three customisable home screens to access even more of your favourite apps with one touch.

NFC offers an easy way to connect and share without any wires or any hassle. Simply touch your Nokia C7 on a compatible headset for fast wireless pairing – or touch another NFC-enabled phone to share photos, videos and contacts, and play multiplayer games with friends. Also, look out for NFC tags on movie posters and other places for exclusive interactive content.

Reach for your Nokia C7 whenever a photo opportunity comes along – with the large 8 MP sensor you get great results every time. Switch to HD video to shoot your movies in stunning high definition and enjoy them again on the bright AMOLED display. And from the gallery it’s really easy to share through email or upload straight to Facebook and Twitter.

Sounds pretty good, right? And if you have ever had a chance to hold and fiddle with a C7 (or its close cousin the N8 — which has even better specs and which also runs Symbian ^3), then you know that the phone is solidly built, has a nice weight, and there’s just not much bad that you can say about it — unless it’s to mutter an under the breath wish that it was running Android or Windows Phone 7, of course.

[Just in case that Nokia C7 link ever goes dead, I’ve also attached a .pdf file of the specifications, which you can download, here.]

And here is the new Vertu Constellation. I can see the resemblance …

The C7 allows you to choose from three colors, and with the new Constellation you’ll also have several colors to choose from …

…including a few with diamonds.

The Constellation is pretty, and based on past experience I have no doubt that it will be incredibly well made … and it will obviously cost a bundle. My Vertu contact said that the  “Constellation starts in brushed metal with brown leather at $5,600. The polished stainless steel with black or pink leather is priced at $6,200. From there, the alligator piece is priced at $8,200 (not yet in stores).” I didn’t bother to ask about the models with diamonds.

But what about the Constellations’s actual specifications? Have a look …

So the new Constellation has no microSD slot (which my Quest, the C7 and the N8 all have); it has a 5 megapixel camera versus the C7’s 8 megapixel or the N8’s 12 megapixel, and it does not have the Carl Zeiss optics. To be fair, neither does the C7, but the N8 does! The Constellation has no built-in FM transmitter, unlike both the C7 and the N8 (I do love this Nokia feature!). There is no Dolby Digital Surround Sound (the N8 has this), and at 420 minutes, the Constellation has a much shorter anticipated talk time than either the C7 (576 minutes) or the N8 (720 minutes!). Standby time for the Constellation is 400 hours, which falls between the C7 (555 hours) and the N8 (390 hours). I suspect that battery life will finally be a real problem with this Vertu, unlike all previous models, because it will be more multimedia device than just phone.

Up until Vertu replied, I was speculating with Drew (my Vertu-buying partner in crime) about which operating system the new Constellation would be sporting — and I said it would most likely be Symbian 3 — just like the C7 and the N8. Yes, I knew that it would be a total long shot that Vertu might decide to put WP7 on the Constellations, but I was hoping that they might rise to the occasion and do it! But alas; it’s Symbian S^3, and if past experience is any indication the Vertu-skinned version of the OS may not even allow you run all of that operating system’s available apps. =/

I have to wonder whether this particular Vertu will miss the mark among those who really do love using these phones, but who want (or need) a smartphone. If someone is in a position to spend this kind of money on a smartphone, then he or she is probably savvy enough to know that he or she would want one that could run all of the cool apps — the ones almost everyone knows by name. And sure, Symbian can offer some of them, but no matter how you try to sugarcoat it, Symbian is a dying OS. In fact, I will take that statement and go one step further … As far as I am concerned there are only three operating systems that belong on any phone that has the nerve to call itself a smartphone in 2011.

And as I say that, I take a pause — allowing those of you who feel passionately about this time to pull out your flame-throwers. Go ahead; I have on my asbestos suit …

The three smartphone operating systems that I recognize as viable in 2011 and going into 2012 are iOS, Windows Phone 7, and Android.

Right now, those three are IT.

Vertu, listen to me. I am a Constellation Quest owner, and I have also owned the Ascent, the Ascent Ti and the previous Constellation incarnation. I want to see you continue to make these pricy little baubles. Vertu phones are wonderful to own; you make some of the best speakerphones, and your call quality is the best of any phones I’ve tried. Your phones are beautifully designed with the finest materials, and even those who scoff at the price still can’t help but be impressed when they actually hold one of your little works of art. The concierge service is pretty darn neat, too! But if you are going to call your newest phones smart, then you simply must give them a smart operating system — one which has an app store with all the popular programs available, and make it an app store that is intuitive and easy to spend money in  — which Ovi is most definitely not. And for goodness sake; if you are going to charge $5,600 and up for this latest Vertu model, then at least give the new Constellation features that will compete with (and hopefully surpass) last years ~$350 C7 that you based its design upon!

Categories: Editorials

Tags: , , ,

8 replies

  1. Why bother even to review this ridiculously overpriced underperforming phone? Sometime ago I went into the famous Tourneau watch store here in NYC which sells the Vertu phone just to ask the price. I had a sense the salesman was embarrassed even to tell me. I know a lot of quite wealthy people, yet I know no one who has one of these. Who buys it? Why is it even made?

  2. Your questions were rhetorical, right? You’ve already made your judgement, and you don’t really want an answer … or at least that’s the feeling I am getting.

    In any case, this certainly wasn’t a review, it was more of an overview. Kind of an FYI. I bothered because I like Vertus, whether or not I can always afford them. I also like Ferraris and Maseratis, even if they aren’t practical or in my budget. I’m not going to judge someone else just because they own one, though.

    Sorry that it struck such a nerve with you, but you have to remember that tech is like underwear: everyone has their own favorite type, and there is something for everyone. 

  3. So you did find out about the OS eh?  I would think about it even if it was Symbian Bella and we could get to the apps in the Ovi store..  I used an N8 for awhile and got very comfortable with it.  It was my travel phone in the US  couple of times, because it worked on 3G everywhere.  But agree with your comments regarding spec..  But then the spec says FM radio transmitter and 8 megapixel camera I think.. :)  Let’s see what kind of magpie I am come February when I’m back there again.. LOL

  4. Oh and not so sure I agree with you prognostication regarding OS futures, still love my Blackberry.. 😉 

      • Have tried to explain to Elana that her BB is like the Palm centro she held onto forever. People are fleeing. Developers are fleeing. Trending is down while iOS and Android jugernauts keep accellerating. All of that equals… BB is DEAD! DEAD!
        Not tomorrow. Not the next day. But soon than many realize.

  5. 😆 You are right! I missed the 8 megapixel camera! and the transmitter … oh my … maybe I was thinking of my own Quest and projecting a bit! 😉

  6. I’ve been wanting to buy one of these for a while, but keep hoping the ‘next’ model will finally switch to a better OS…..debating if i should just cave and get one as Vertu seems SO resistant to using anything modern