To most people, a mobile phone is an object of modest aspiration, whose practicality trumps aesthetics or status.
A professional photographer will be drawn to the handset with the best camera setup, while a construction worker may prioritise robustness above all else.
However, among the rarefied echelons of the super-rich, even Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max isn’t exclusive enough.
When your local shop is Harrods and there’s only one hotel in St Andrews worth staying at, your Mulberry needs to be filled with unusual smartphones which stand out from the crowd.
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of manufacturers queuing up to assist in this noble quest.
All that glitters…
Last year, while the world battled the COVID-19 pandemic and millions of Brits remained furloughed, Caviar revealed a range of modified Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra handsets.
The actual hardware wasn’t upgraded in any way, so these phones still had 6.9-inch screens, Android 10 and a 10MP selfie camera.
These handsets were instead distinguished by the marble on their cases, alongside rose gold seven microns in thickness and attached using double electroplating.
To further impress strangers at the next table, each was named after a global landmark; the red marble edition was ‘inspired’ by St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square.
Costing six times as much as the standard model, these Caviar Eternity models are typical of unusual smartphones aimed at people in possession of more money than sense.
For the rest of us, there are plenty of more affordable options…
Unusual smartphones that won’t break the bank
If you’re looking for something to cut a dash without cutting the heart out of your bank account, it’s best to avoid mass-produced iPhones and Galaxies.
If environmental matters are a priority, the Fairphone 3 is marketed as the world’s most sustainable smartphone, thanks to modular components ensuring a lengthy lifespan.
Fans of durability could also consider the Cat S52 – 210 grams of IP69-protected toughness wrapped in an aluminium frame and endlessly drop-tested during development.
You could cut a knowingly retro dash with the reborn Nokia 3310, whose iconic alphanumeric keypad is surrounded by bright curved plastic. It also offers up to a month of battery life.
And if you want visual drama, the Motorola Razr’s compact front screen is separate to a 6.2-inch folding panel contained inside its remarkable clamshell body.
Literally and metaphorically expanding on this concept, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 turns from a phone into a tablet, with an extraordinary 7.6-inch near-square screen.
However, it can’t rival the Honeywell CN80 for strangeness. Marketed as a mobile computer, it resembles something Sinclair would have released in the 1980s.
Despite running Android 7.1 and supporting calls via 4G, it’s very much a workplace productivity tool with a 40-key QWERTY keyboard, a stylus pen and 32GB of flash RAM.