Motorola's Aura of desperation

Motorola launches a luxury phone just as economy tanks
Motorola launches a luxury phone just as economy tanks

Motorola is releasing a luxury stainless steel mobile called the Aura, that it reckons "recalls the timeless beauty of luxury watches".

The rotating handset - which reminds Tech Radar of Motorola's iconic but short-lived V80 phone - boasts the world's first 16-million colour circular display, Swiss components and aluminium keys.

The 300dpi (but only 1.55-inch diameter) LCD is fronted by classy, scratch-proof saphire crystal and the rotating mechanism contains over 200 high-precision individual parts, including 130 ball bearings and gears protected by coatings designed for racing cars.

Inside, the EDGE/GPRS phone has just a 2MP camera and 2GB of memory, although it does come with A2DP stereo Bluetooth and H.264 video capture.

If you have to ask the price...

"From the moment AURA owners hold their phones, they elevate their own experience in luxury and unmatched quality," says Jim Wicks, corporate vice president and director of Consumer Experience Design at Motorola.

We're not sure exactly what that means, but for a phone supposedly inspired by precision watches, you have to laugh at Motorola's timing. Launching a high-end 2G luxury handset just as the world economy collapses suggests that the "hand-sculpted richness" of the Aura might struggle to find a market.

Check out a lovely Flash tour of the phone at, and start saving your pennies now for its launch sometime before Christmas.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.