By Lisa Eadicicco, Business Insider
Smartphones are expensive. In most cases, you need to shell out about $200 to get a good phone with a two-year contract. Those prices skyrocket to the $600-to-$700 range when you buy a phone off-contract.
That amount of money sounds like petty cash compared to what luxury brand Vertu charges for its smartphones.
The company launched its Vertu Signature Touch smartphone (pictured) earlier this month, and it costs between $10,000 and $22,000, depending on how you customize it.
So what makes Vertu's smartphones so expensive? The company claims it's all about the materials it uses.
All of Vertu's smartphones are handmade in England, according to the company's website. Vertu handwrites its signature on each phone to show it was created by a single craftsman start to finish.
The phone's casing is made of natural-grain alligator leather and grade five titanium alloy, which Vertu claims is two-and-a-half times stronger than stainless steel but is still light.
The display, made of sapphire crystal, can reportedly withstand the weight of a "200g ball bearing dropped from a height of one metre," according to the company.
Vertu has teamed up with Bang and Olufsen for the speakers in this device, claiming its camera is certified by Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad.
Other than its appearance, the Vertu Signature Touch doesn't seem to be much different than your average smartphone.
The phone comes with a 4.7-inch 1080p display and a 13-megapixel camera and runs on a 2.3-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, the same chip you'll find in today's flagships like the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8.
It's unclear exactly what accounts for the differences in price. Specifically, Engadget reports the prices range between $10,300 and $21,900, while The Wall Street Journal reports the black alligator version costs $14,100.
Vertu does mention that buyers can choose different designs and colors. You can get your name or a phrase engraved on the phone.
Vertu's Signature Touch smartphone is unfathomably priced for the everyday user, but it's not the most expensive phone in the world.
Luxury gadget designer Stuart Hughes recreated the iPhone 5's chassis with solid gold and embedded a rare black diamond in the body. Hughes' iPhone 5 sells for an unimaginable $15 million.
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