Luxury smartphones aren’t about practicality, or efficiency, or any other trait we might otherwise associate with the utilitarian world of modern consumer electronics. Instead, these devices — like the new Gionee M2017 — are about excess, style, and raw power. The M2017, which is limited to the Chinese market as of now, comes with a 7,000mAh battery at a time when most phones can barely break 3,000mAh. (The phone actually just uses two 3,500mAh batteries placed next to one another.) The device also comes with a Snapdragon 653 processor and 6GB of RAM. For that kind of battery and processing power, you’ll be forking over the Chinese Yuan equivalent of about $1,000.
But the specs are just one half of the luxury phone picture. The other half is about design. The M2017 follows in the footsteps of pricier luxury phone makers like Vertu with a jewelry-style aesthetic aiming to make the smartphone as tactile and pleasing an object as a fine watch or wallet. That style comes through on the M2017’s gold edges, gold back camera plate, and all-gold software icons. The phone also features a dual-curved display, similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
The downsides here are rather obvious. It’s not clear when this phone will ever make its way out of China. It’s also unclear what kind of software support or Android updates Gionee will provide. As it stands now, the M2017 ships with the company’s custom “Amigo” UI version 3.5, according to 9to5Google, which sits atop Google’s year-old Android Marshmallow. Still, it’s always fascinating to peek into the world of luxury phones to see what consumers are willing to purchase in exchange for status and aesthetics.