At an event in London today, smartphone manufacturer Vertu revealed its latest device, Metavertu—a “Web3 phone” that can run its own blockchain node and turn photos and videos into NFTs with a single click.
The device itself is unapologetically aimed at the higher end of the market. All models sport a ceramic frame and Vertu’s signature sapphire glass screen, powered by a Qualcomm SnapDragon 8 Gen 1 CPU. A 6.67in, 2400×1080 AMOLED display, three-lens camera array and a 4,600mAh battery round off the standard specs list.
The entry-level model comes with a carbon fiber finish, 12GB RAM and 512GB internal storage and a $3,600 price point. The top-of-the-line model, meanwhile, has 18GB RAM and 1TB storage, and comes wrapped in "Himalaya Alligator leather," 18K gold and diamonds. The price? A staggering $41,000.
Vertu’s new luxury audience
Still, if you’ve dropped a million dollars on a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, that’s comparatively restrained.
This is presumably what Vertu is banking on. The smartphone manufacturer previously sold smartphones with mid-tier specs and outrageously expensive finishes to luxury consumers (in 2017, it went bankrupt doing so, and has been through a succession of owners before relaunching in 2018).
These days, the jet set has moved on to the exciting world of Web3, NFTs and the metaverse, with the emergence of a crypto nouveau riche for whom CryptoPunks and Azuki NFTs are the new Burberry and Louis Vuitton.
But the problem with Web3, said Vertu CEO Gary Chan at the phone’s launch event in London, is that its complexity is a turn-off for new users. “We want to reinvent the smartphone to de-complicate Web3,” he said.
With that in mind, the Metavertu can switch between Web2 mode—the standard Android operating system seen on most smartphones—to a Web3 mode. Users can create a wallet in a few clicks, with private keys protected by the phone’s trusted execution environment (TEE), and access a suite of decentralized applications (dapps) through a friendly, Android-style interface.
Those dapps include VOS, which enables the phone to be used as a “”validator, a light node, and a light client” on the Ethereum blockchain, according to a Vertu spokesperson. Another dapp, Vshot, enables the user to mint an NFT with one click from a photo or video.
The phone also includes Vtalk, an encrypted peer-to-peer instant messaging app that “integrates decentralized social networking” features including DAOs, according to Chan.
On top of all that, users get access to 10 terabytes of distributed storage on IPFS, as well as access to Vertu’s “red button” 24/7 concierge service. Even that service has been updated to reflect the Web3 world. “We have a special NFT investment team to help our users to better understand NFTs quickly,” said Chan, which includes guiding newcomers through the process of collecting non-fungible tokens and advising them on which upcoming collections are worth snapping up.
The Metavertu will go on sale beginning Nov. 3 through the Vertu website as well as its bricks-and-mortar stores, including a new location on London’s Bond Street opening later in the year.