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Tag Heuer Link Review

Tag Heuer’s new Android mobile phone is no ordinary device – and it’s not trying to be an iPhone, says Matt Warman


There’s a dilemma for any technology journalist reviewing a mobile phone that can cost more than £16,000 – who needs one? Nobody. Who even actively wants one? The ultra-luxury market is small. Devices such as the Link, made by Tag Heuer, should not be judged by the standards of your average iPhone or BlackBerry.

These are, after all, mostly about craftsmanship, and certainly not about what you might need – the Link features exposed screws, the one I used had an alligator skin back, and all models offer a solidity in the hand that feels weighty to the point of bombproof. A wheel, in the style of the crown of a Tag watch opens a panel on the side of the unit for access to the charging port, sim and memory cards. It operates with the kind of movement only serious money can buy.

So it’s the excellence of construction associated with watches that Tag is after – and yet mobile phones, whether it’s Samsung, Apple or BlackBerry, are all made as elegant, slim units that look extremely stylish. The Link’s conspicuous construction feels like a reaction against that, with those exposed screws demonstrating a conspicuous kind of artistry. Needless to say, this is not to everybody’s taste and most who like the usual mobile phones will not approve. There is an appeal in minimalistic design that cuts across all budgets.

There is, however, interesting technology in the Link. It is, currently, the smartest ultra-luxury smartphone on the market. A new model from rival Vertu is coming in October, but for now this is the most modern device in its rarified price bracket.

Running Android 2.2, the Link is not at the cutting edge – that’s version 2.3.3 – so it does not offer many of the features of the latest devices. But if you’re in the market for a Link, you can afford something with much better battery life, much newer software, and still have change for a brand new small car. You’re not buying one for the features.

Nonetheless, alongside a 5mp camera, the link also offers a usefully curated app store (SoApps), and impressive back-up and security features under the Tag Heuer brand, along with screensavers and wallpapers that are as stylish as you’d expect.

Indeed, with just a day of using the Link, its feel in the hand is slightly intoxicating. Angled corners and that leather back feel right, even if it does not look conventionally beautiful. The 3.5” screen is passably vivid, although it’s small and surrounded by a raised bezel that makes typing slightly difficult. The battery lasts the usual day or so of this generation of Android devices. Don’t worry that Tag give you just 256MB of ram and a 1GHz processor.

If you want the best mobile phone on the market, then this is probably not the device for you. But if you love the brand like so many people love Apple, want a mobile phone that is obviously a piece of jewellery and can also, thanks to Google Android, be upgraded to a newer software version over time, then the Link is the best around. Measured against its own peculiar ambitions, it is hard to find real fault.

Filed in: Technology News

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