Product Promotion Network

HTC

Reference Library – Mobile Phones – HTC

Vertu goes bankrupt: farewell to the world’s most unnecessarily expensive smartphone

?128 million deep in debt, smartphone brand Vertu is officially bankrupt.

200 UK jobs will be lost as it shuts down all manufacturing, with owner Murat Hakan Uzan only offering to pay creditors ?1.9 million of the debts owed. If you haven’t heard of Vertu before we can’t say we blame you – its products aren’t exactly for everyone. It presented itself as the ‘purveyor of the finest luxury mobile phones’.

You certainly can’t argue with the aesthetics, as handsets come in such decadent cladding as titanium and alligator-hide leather, but the technical specifications were often far from top-of-the-range. However, you didn’t just get a smartphone when buying a Vertu – you also got a full concierge service. The price of each handset also included 18-month access to a personal concierge.

This acted as a ‘lifestyle manager’, which would provide you with ‘discreet and personalised 24/7 assistance worldwide’. Currently the services section[1] of the Vertu website says it has suspended those services with the view of relaunching them, better than ever, in September 2017. Whoops.

Best Buy mobile phones[2] – Find out which handsets we think are really worth your money

All beauty and no brains?

Sure, a mobile phone that costs more than a new car sounds ridiculous, but if you have the money to spare and are looking for something special then it’s not necessarily the worst investment in the world. Or is it? Perhaps the biggest oversight of Vertu’s line of handsets is that for all the money being asked, their tech specs simply aren’t that impressive on paper.

Take a look at the handsets below alongside some technologically comparable handsets from more reputable, affordable brands.

Signature

Left: Vertu Signature, Right: BlackBerry Curve 9320

As the name, and price, suggests, this is Vertu’s flagship handset. When it was first released in 2008 it made a lot more sense – or at least as much sense as a ?39,000 mobile phone could. Almost ten years on and its continued existence is absolutely baffling.

You don’t need to be a tech buff to realise that something is seriously wrong just from looking at the specs below. The Vertu Signature isn’t even a smartphone – it has functionality similar to most other handsets released in 2008, a time when the first iPhone was on sale, but most people were still using more basic handsets. Whilst woefully lacking in features it is at least available in a wide variety of styles.

The cheapest model is made of stainless steel and black leather with a single button made of ruby, but more expensive options feature mother of pearl inlays, sapphire-faced keys, 18 carat gold detailing and polished black sapphire inlays. Nice and subtle. Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

Speaking of failing brands, how about a BlackBerry?

The Curve 9320[3] offers all of the above but for a far more reasonable ?110 (that’s 1/100th of Signature’s cheapest price). It also has a full QWERTY keyboard rather than a standard number pad, plus an actual app store. Of course it’s hardly the newest or best phone on the market right now, but that shows just how much of a dinosaur the Vertu Signature really is.

What else could you buy for the price? A two bedroom terraced house in Darlington.

Signature Touch

Left: Vertu Signature Touch, Right: OnePlus 3T

The Signature Touch is a handset that actually looks like it belongs in the smartphone era, thanks to its touchscreen and 4G capability. It’s not exactly an iPhone killer, but compared to the Signature it’s a steal at a mere ?7,500.

Take note that the version of Android it runs is almost two years out of date, as is its processor – although 4GB of RAM is actually quite impressive. It also comes clad in alligator leather or polished titanium, if that’s something you look for in a smartphone. Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

Take a look at the OnePlus 3T[4].

It’s got extremely similar specs to the Signature Touch, but for the much more palatable price of ?350 – plus no alligators were harmed in its production (we think). It also runs the latest version of Android, 7.0 Nougat. What else could you buy for the price?

You could employ a Starbucks barista to be your own personal coffee maker for a whole year.

Aster

Left: Vertu Aster, Right: Sony Xperia Z3

Just when we thought Vertu was redeeming itself with the Signature Touch, we get to the Aster. This is a mid-range smartphone in an ?8,000 body, although 64GB of internal storage is quite nice, as is 4G support. You’re not buying the Aster for its specs though – you’re buying it for its looks, and because you have more money than common sense.

How does ostrich leather sound? Brushed titanium? A chassis encrusted with 55 black and white diamonds?

All very real options that you can choose to pay through the nose for. Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

The Sony Xperia Z3[5] came out three years ago and sports very similar specifications, diamonds aside. It has less internal memory, but it does have a microSD card slot – unlike the Aster.

It’s also able to update to Android 6.0 and has a rear-facing camera that’s almost twice the resolution, all for ?320. What else could you buy for the price? A second-hand 2005 Porschse Boxter.

Constellation

Left: Vertu Constellation, Right: HTC U Ultra

Now we’re talking.

A Quad-HD screen! A shiny new high-end processor! An enormous 128GB of storage, powered by 4GB of RAM!

And all it will cost you is… oh. It’s not available. Presumably Vertu was planning on releasing the Constellation later this year, but sadly it looks like that will never happen.

Want a cheaper handset with the same specs?

We can only hazard a guess at how much the Constellation would have cost had it ever seen the light of the production line, but you can get the HTC U Ultra[6] for ?590 – which is probably nearing the absolute most anyone should be looking to spend on a smartphone.

What else could you buy for the price?

We’ll never know, but presumably a lunar module or a modest Fortune 500 company.

References

  1. ^ services section (www.vertu.com)
  2. ^ Best Buy mobile phones (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Curve 9320 (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ OnePlus 3T (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Sony Xperia Z3 (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ HTC U Ultra (www.which.co.uk)

This woman was so angry about her mobile phone service she padlocked herself to the shop

Searching for a mobile phone signal can be a frustrating necessity for most people, but for this woman it all became a bit too much. Sat on a camping chair, Diane Cartwright padlocked herself to the door of a mobile phone shop for several hours in a desperate attempt to get her phone working. The business owner placed a chain around the door of her local EE store on Wednesday in an attempt to convince bosses to give her a working phone or release her from her contract.

Waving a placard saying: EE: Please release me, let me go and peaceful protest Ms Cartwright sat in the shop doorway from 2pm to 5.30pm. Police were called to the scene but took no action over what was deemed a civil matter .

1 Click to play Tap to play The Live Event you are trying to watch is either unavailable or has not started Please refresh this page in your browser to reload this live event video

Mrs Cartwright, who is in her 50s, relies on her mobile phone to run her dog-grooming company called Porthma DOG in Porthmadog with husband Edmund. She claims her phone only receives an intermittent signal, meaning her company was potentially losing hundreds of pounds from customers in missed calls, the Daily Post reported2

Mrs Cartwright said: We have lost 700 – 1,000 worth of business. We don t want the stress. People were trying to call us and it was saying out of service.

She says that, despite numerous calls to EE, the problem has not been resolved.

Hywel Trewyn Diane Cartwright padlocked herself to the EE shop in Bangor

She wanted to cancel her contract with EE and had demanded they give her a PAC code so she could keep the number but move it to another mobile company. Mrs Cartwright from Mynytho, Gwynedd, said: I can t afford another week without my phone working. All I need is the PAC code. They don t want you to leave. This is the second time the Cartwrights have had problems with mobile phone coverage.

Two years ago, their home was hit by a lightning strike which knocked out their mobile phone, broadband and landline supplied by EE. Mr Cartwright claims he spent 45 hours on the phone trying to sort their problems out. Then, it took six months and the intervention of their MP to get their problems and refund sorted. At the shop in the Deiniol Shopping Centre at Bangor Mrs Cartwright said: We don t owe them any money. I went to the shop at Bangor and I was assured that they would sort it out. I am at the end of my tether and sick to death of it.

The Daily Post said they had approached EE for comment.

References

  1. ^

How TSMC Won Back Exclusivity With Apple for the A10 Chip in iPhone 7

Last year, MacRumorscovered1 the potential reasoning for Apple’s rumored return to having a single partner for Apple A-series chip production with the A10 after having both Samsung and TSMC produce versions of the Apple A9.

Since then, TSMC confirmed in conference call comments2 that its chip packaging changes have led to improvements of 20 percent in both speed and packaging thickness and 10 percent in thermal performance. This has a number of implications for future device performance and future foundry partner selection for Apple. First, it is helpful to understand why InFO-WLP (Integrated Fan-Out Wafer-Level Packing) is such an important development for Apple’s mobile processors. Typically, chips as large as CPUs or mobile SoCs have been attached via “flip-chip” methods which attach an array of inputs and outputs to a package substrate via solder bumps, ultimately enabling it to be attached to a printed circuit board (PCB) for device integration. From the start, this is a compromise, as it would be preferable to attach a silicon die directly to the PCB to minimize height and reduce the lengths of interconnects between components. A number of technical limits in areas such as interconnect pitch, board produceability, and damage due to board warpage typically prevent this direct attachment. The above problem had previously been circumvented for smaller I/O count components with a similar concept3 called Fan-In Wafer-Level Packing, where smaller dies are allowed to route their inputs and outputs in an area roughly the same area as the die. TSMC is just one of many companies beginning to enable this concept for larger I/O count devices in such a way that allows high volume, acceptable yields, and an acceptable cost.

Slide from 2014 TSMC presentation on InFO-WLP advancements

With this method, the traditional substrate becomes unnecessary, as a silicon wafer serves that purpose with one or more logic dies included. The reduced height of this method and a thinner redistribution layer (RDL) for remapping pins of the die to the PCB means that all interconnects are shorter, which directly enables lower power and better thermal performance. The transistors driving the outputs on this device now drive less metal length, meaning they can save power.

Saving power also means performing better thermally, but a more direct connection to the PCB means there is simply less thermal resistance to the PCB, which can pull heat away from the device.

The promised performance improvements are certainly significant. A 20 percent improvement in performance is roughly equivalent to the improvement expected between successive foundry nodes (e.g. the change from 14 nm to 10 nm). With both TSMC and Samsung only offering refined versions of their 16 nm and 14 nm FinFET processes, this means that total performance gains could be in line with the same improvement seen from the A8 to the A9 chip, but driven by packaging improvements rather than a new process. Of course, every generation can’t enjoy this same improvement, but increased power efficiency is critical for mobile devices to be allowed to hit higher peak limits for short durations. In the keynote for the iPhone 64 family of devices, Apple went into detail about how it made a significant effort to ensure the A8 processor did not throttle itself as the A7 had. This was and is an industry-wide problem as mobile SoC makers have raced to provide the highest performing chips. By taking advantage of new packaging from TSMC, Apple gets more relief in this metric, and freedom to go to a higher power dissipation mode for short periods.

Bare iPhone 75 logic board with space for A10 chip A long-term advantage of this technology is to enable much faster main memory interfaces to the logic die, largely by widening the interface.

Current mobile SoC packages use PoP (package-on-package) techniques which connect the memory dies to the main processor with tiny wires, which is thermally inefficient and not ideal for performance. By using wafer-level packaging, these drawbacks can be reduced for the main memory, while also increasing the number of connections and data that can be moved in a given time.

In the long run, this move will likely be a cost-saver for Apple as it removes the package substrate. However, the co-design of device die and device package explains why multiple partners are not technically feasible for an effort such as this. Companies like TSMC have also labored for years to make this a reality, with the benefits long being understood. At this point, there is no denying Apple’s technical acumen and bandwidth in chip design. The company has developed multiple chips for market in extremely aggressive timeframes with fully custom designs that rival those of Intel for performance per watt. Apple beat its competitors to market for a 64-bit ARM design by over a year, and designed two custom A9 dies in the time that its competitors designed one.

Given Apple’s focus on pushing the performance of its silicon, and TSMC’s packaging advancements, it makes sense that TSMC has been able to gain sole possession of Apple’s chip orders for at least this generation.

Looking forward, the InFO-WLP packaging technique marks a significant development not only for TSMC and Apple, but the semiconductor industry as a whole.

References

  1. ^ covered (www.macrumors.com)
  2. ^ conference call comments (www.tsmc.com)
  3. ^ similar concept (en.wikipedia.org)
  4. ^ iPhone 6 (www.macrumors.com)
  5. ^ iPhone 7 (www.macrumors.com)