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10 December 2023

When luxury gets its own phone


By Bindu Rai

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, the Motorola Aura is here. If my sarcasm is palpable it's probably because I simply don't get the fuss.

Yes, it is a great phone, or a work of luxurious artistic craftsmanship, if you like the flowery description. But would you really fork out Dh7,850 for a pretty orchid? In these economic conditions, such frivolous expenditure could seal your fate faster than that of a bee buzzing by a Venus Flytrap.

Taking on Nokia's Arte series of phones and high-end brands like Vertu and Mobiado, the Aura (shaped like the ancient V70) incorporates technology and expertise used to assemble some of the world's finest luxury timepieces.

If that doesn't redeem the Aura's steep price, then its state-of-the-art looks may just be its saving grace. Seriously, how many mobile phones can boast a body made entirely of stainless steel or the use of 1.62-carat sapphire crystal to ensure a scratch-resistance lens surface?

And it's not all gimmick, considering I happened to drop the phone on a few occasions and even had a go at it with my fork. Iron Man, eat your heart out.

Added to that is an impressive 16-million colour display and 300 dpi resolution that ensures picture quality that is second to none. The keypad is aluminum, the gears are tungsten carbide, and the swivel mechanism is custom-built with 130 precision ball bearings.

Now that's a lot of bling even for Dubai, but even as I tottered around town with the Aura in tow, mouthing these little factoids to all and sundry, the only thing everyone really asked was, 'Is it user-friendly?' I don't blame them, considering nine years of being a Motorola junkie, the brand can still throw me for a bouncer every time I get an upgrade.

And here comes the not so good news. After relying heavily on its frills, the thrills lack the punch needed for a phone to survive. The circular menu key is a nightmare for those with fat fingers and it took me a while to understand how to upload my sim's numbers on to the phone memory. A not-so-impressive two-megapixel camera, a quad-band GSM (no 3G), a video and music player and stereo Bluetooth are its main features. That it has a memory of 2GB is a silver lining, but these days a Dh18 memory card can give you that luxury.

The Aura also markets itself with an open-source browser for faster internet facilities and Moto's CrystalTalk feature that ensures a clarity that allegedly beats that of every other cell phone. Neither of the two really stood out for me, but then again, the country's telecom providers can be blamed for that.

Personal tastes aside though, I do see the Aura finding a comfy home in the Prada and Gucci handbags of Dubai's many fashionistas. Me on the other hand would much rather spend it on the LG Prada II and use the leftovers to pay my monthly rent. Three stars for looks.