This site is usually all about the features and performance, but not today. It’s our day-off so we decided to go shopping. Well, window-shopping to be more depressingly precise. And the only bags we brought home are those under our eyes. Sometimes glitter is indeed gold – or better – and it sure can blind.

We may’ve seen it all: from basic phones that scratch a living out of calling and texting to technological triumphs. And they all used to make sense. Today’s a challenge for our sense of right and wrong. What we are looking at are some outrageously expensive handsets for the uber rich who have more money than…ok, let’s face it… us.

Tag Heuer Meridiist

Some of the participants

If you find insanely overpriced featureless handsets a complete waste of time and human effort you better stop reading right now. But if you recognize the limited-edition handcrafted diamond-encrusted models as a form of artistic expression then you might be informed and entertained. Oh, and feel free to be shocked. Even our hardened geek hearts couldn’t help but skip a beat when we handled those 40,000 dollar pieces.

No one buys these handsets for their functionality, user-friendly interface or great reception. In fact, no one buys these handsets is where every right-thinking person would’ve stopped. But no sir, these things do sell, be it with just one purpose: to flaunt just how much you have. By the way, a certain group of users may find this review particularly upsetting. Nokia Arte, Motorola Aura or Samsung Ego owners seem to like feeling superior to the rest of the crowd, but they are going to look like poverty-stricken cheapskates next to the heavy hitters we are about to review.

The phones in this review are all of the love-it-or-hate it type. None of these could ever be called a sensible purchase, but the surprising number of boutique handsets available does suggest there is demand, even in these economically tough times. So who are we to judge if the money could be better spent elsewhere when the users end up happy and wanting more?

As a small aside, we would like to make the case that every reviewer should get to keep the handsets they test. How about that? Looking back at all the top notch phones we’ve had to give back over the years sure hurts. Alright, we never really made fuss about it until now but we’re off to a trade union meeting as soon as we finish this article. And this time we mean it because this time it’s different.

What we have here is a bunch of Vertu phones, a couple of diamond-encrusted Goldvish handsets and a bonus track – TAG Heuer’s Meridiist. This last one with its tongue-twisting name doesn’t even come close to the grandeur of its companions, nor has it been so aggressively marketed. But the underdog quickly became the favorite around the office. And the paltry 5000 US dollars on its price tag almost had us ready to torture-test it. No offence meant, out of the whole bunch the Swiss chap sure was our kind of stuff.

A bunch of Vertu handsets captured in the wild

On second thoughts, if you have to ask about the price, then you probably can’t afford it anyway, so it’s probably best that we put away our wallets and focus on the job in hand. There are quite a lot of handsets waiting and the patience of the nobility shouldn’t be tested. The review begins on the next page with one of the Vertu offerings.

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