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Photos: The rise of the luxury mobile

Is that an iPhone in your pocket?
By Natasha Lomas, Contributor on
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1 of 10 Natasha Lomas/ZDNET

Is that an iPhone in your pocket?

Designer brands are falling over themselves to carve a niche in the mobile world - especially in the run-up to Christmas.

The latest handset from high-end audio equipment maker Bang & Olufsen is pictured here - made in partnership with Samsung.

Dubbed the Serenata, the 3.5G mobile phone offers a built-in stereo loudspeaker system which its manufacturer claims delivers 'outstanding sound quality without distortion' - so no more tinny tunes on the Tube. Music can also be enjoyed less conspicuously via the dedicated stereo earphones, or the phone can be connected up to a home hi-fi system.

The Serenata uses click-wheel navigation, has a 2.4-inch colour screen and is good for up to three hours of talk time.

It is slated to be available to buy in stores next month.

Photo credit: Bang & Olufsen/Samsung

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This is the P'9521 - the first mobile phone on offer from status carmaker Porsche.

Developed in collaboration with Sagem, the phone has been designed along minimalist, almost utilitarian, lines but it does have one fancy feature: a fingerprint reader for use as a security device.

Photo credit: Porsche/Sagem

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The aluminium and mineral glass flip-phone also comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera.

A double hinge in the casing enables the screen to be rotated through 180 degrees in order to take photographs.

The P'9521 makes use of GPRS/Edge technology and offers talk time of up to three and a half hours.

Photo credit: Porsche/Sagem

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Another European luxury brand that has jumped on the mobile bandwagon is Mandarina Duck. The Italian label - better known for making handbags and manbags - has designed a range of 'fashion' phones, in collaboration with Alcatel.

The rubberised clamshell design is available in three colours (the cherry red version is pictured above) - and comes with the now ubiquitous camera and MP3 player...

Photo credit: Mandarina Duck/Alcatel

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Here's the lime green version. A lilac shade is also available.

The range is due to go on sale at The Carphone Warehouse next month.

Expect more fashion phones to pop up. Jeans brand Levi Strauss has recently shown off a candybar mobile aimed at the fashion-conscious teen market, also due to launch next month in time for Christmas. And designer clothing label Ted Baker is getting in on the act, with a range of 3G slider phones in collaboration with Samsung.

Ted Baker is also working with HTC on a more colourful version of its touchscreen smart phone, dubbed the Ted Baker Tyrian.

Photo credit: Mandarina Duck/Alcatel

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Nokia is the world's number one handset maker - and being the producer of vast numbers of any product is not normally a characteristic of a luxury brand. But the Finnish handset maker has a strategy for the high end of the market, in the form of a dedicated range of luxury mobiles - called Vertu.

The Vertu range offers what Nokia describes as "obsessive craftsmanship". Each mobile in the range is hand built in England, using "the finest materials and precision-engineered components", the company says.

Photo credit: Nokia

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7 of 10 Natasha Lomas/ZDNET

Shown here is the back of the Ascent Ti mobile from the Vertu range, with its distinctive leather covering.

The Ascent Ti comes with a 3 megapixel camera, WCDMA2100/GSM connectivity and up to five hours talk time (on GSM).

Photo credit: Nokia

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Designer brand Giorgio Armani has collaborated with Samsung on this iPhone look-a-like touchscreen handset.

Unlike Apple's handset, however, the Armani phone utilises haptic technology to produce mild vibrations when an on-screen icon is pressed so users can be sure their action has been registered.

The GPRS/Edge device has a 2.6-inch screen and comes with an internet browser, a 3 megapixel camera and an MP3 player.

It's touted to be in shops next month.

Photo credit: Giorgio Armani/Samsung

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But if you can't wait that long you can get your hands on this touchscreen device right now - a collaboration between luxury goods brand Prada and mobile maker LG, which launched earlier this year.

The Edge device has a similar look and feel to the forthcoming Armani mobile - and of course to Apple's iPhone - but it offers a less impressive camera (2 megapixel) and its touchscreen does not have haptic technology.

Photo credit: Prada/LG

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For Apple fans, one luxury handset rules them all however - and it's called iPhone.

The GSM/Edge iPhone will hit shops in the UK on 9 November.

The device runs Apple's OS X operating system and has a 3.5-inch touchscreen display (but no haptics). It also includes wi-fi, a 2 megapixel camera and an MP3 player - and boasts up to eight hours of talk time.

Photo credit: Apple

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