Things are really changing at luxury phone maker Vertu. An acquisition by a controversial Turkish businessman earlier this year was surprise enough, and now the brand has now partnered with TCL Communication to build 30,000 new Vertu smartphones at its Hampshire, United Kingdom production facility. Vertu made its name with luxury phones, often costing more than $10,000 each, and usually with the signature of the person responsible for making the device stamped under a panel. TCL Communication will give Vertu access to, “advanced and innovative technology,” in a deal worth $40 million to build the 30,000 devices, which are still referred to as handcrafted.
It has also been revealed Vertu’s corporate office has moved from the U.K. to Paris, and is named as Vertu AK France, in the press release. New owner Hakan Uzan said the TCL deal was the first of many, “considerable investments,” being made in Vertu, and talked about a, “substantial restructuring and modernization” process being carried out at the firm.
In July, Vertu will release a limited run of Constellation X smartphones, which may be the Constellation phone we tried in February, with a wider release slated for September. After this, Uzan says the Vertu Concierge service will be revamped. Concierge is a major selling point of Vertu devices, giving owners their own personal assistant, available 24/7 through the phone, to do their bidding. A new range of Vertu lifestyle products will launch in September, but no further details are given.
Vertu currently sells a pair of headphones, a wireless charging dock, and a Bluetooth speaker in addition to its smartphones. Finally, several partnerships with other luxury brands will be announced in September. Vertu has always been selective with its partnerships, with the best known being carmaker Bentley.
TCL Communication is part of Chinese electronics company TCL Corporation, which designs and markets an ever-widening array of smartphones and other electronics devices. It received plenty of attention after licensing the BlackBerry name, which resulted in the launch of the BlackBerry KeyOne, but also manages Alcatel devices, and most recently partnered with Turing Robotic Industries to build a new Turing branded device.
Vertu has always prided itself on its British heritage — a large part of the company’s appeal — its craftsmanship, and dedication to only selecting the very best materials and components. How TCL Communication’s involvement, and owner Hakan Uzan’s plans, will alter this remains to be seen. We’ve reached out to Vertu for comment, and will update this post when we hear back.