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Tonino Lamborghini Antares is an eye-catching phone but not much more

The Tonino Lamborghini Antares is not like any other smartphone -- that's because it's a piece of jewelry
The Tonino Lamborghini Antares smartphone costs $4,000, but it features outdated technology

The Tonino Lamborghini Antares is not like any other smartphone, and that’s because it’s mostly an expensive piece of jewelry.

The Antares is a $4,000 device built by an Italian brand that makes accessories for the upper crust. Tonino Lamborghini is not associated with the sports car company, but it uses very similar branding and is owned by the son of Ferruccio Lamborghini, the man who created the automobile brand.

And like the famous Lamborghini vehicles, the Antares is an eye-catching object.

The phone features jagged edges and incorporates large, visible screws into its design. It is made of materials rarely seen on other phones -- stainless steel and leather -- and when laid on its face, it very much resembles a sports car.

Many of the people I showed the device to said it was very manly and looked like something that Batman would own. However, a few people also said they thought it was ugly. Either way, the device’s design always made it stand out -- no one confused it with an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy device.

And that’s the main point of this gadget. At $4,000, you aren’t buying the Tonino Lamborghini Antares because you think it's six times better than the $649 16 GB iPhone 5s. You are buying it because you want others to know you can afford a $4,000 phone.

In being a status symbol, the Antares gets the job done. In every other sense, the phone falls short of premier smartphones that have been released in the last year and a half.

The Antares is Tonino Lamborghini’s first smartphone, and it shows. The device is much bigger than an iPhone 5s. It is thick and bulky. It’s comparable to a Samsung Galaxy S4 and last year’s HTC One, but those phones feature screens that are about 5 inches. The Antares, meanwhile, features only a 4-inch screen. That’s the same as an iPhone 5s, and in the world of Android, that is tiny.

As someone who owns a 4-inch iPhone 5, I normally wouldn’t mind having such a small screen, but in the case of the Antares, I did. That’s because the luxury device features one of the most inaccurate touchscreens I have ever used.

A few years ago, inaccurate touchscreens were a real problem among phones not made by Apple, but that hasn’t been the case in quite a while. I often found myself having to tap the screen multiple times because the phone didn’t register my initial taps accurately. This led to me tapping the wrong keys when typing or the wrong tabs while using apps.

Also, the phone was much slower than most current devices when trying to do anything on the Internet. You can attribute that to the phone’s inability to connect to 4G LTE networks. The Antares can run only on 2G and 3G networks. In some parts of the world, 3G is still the standard, but in the United States, 3G networks are about two years out of date. I'm used to speedy LTE networks, and using the Antares really tested my patience.

The phone’s software is also a little slower than current top-of-the-line gadgets because it runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, which was released in late 2012. The Android operating system is now on version 4.4 KitKat, and there were times the outdated software stood out in a bad way. The Facebook app kept crashing the first few days I used the phone, for example.

There were, however, a few things to like about the Antares aside from its noticeable brand. Most notably, it features a 13-megapixel rear camera that takes pictures as well as any other top smartphone. The Antares also comes with 32 gigabytes of storage and has space for a microSD card, meaning storage can be expanded further. The device also had a pretty good speaker for listening to music.

The phone goes on sale in the United States on May 19. It comes in four different color options: rose gold, gold, black and stainless steel.

I wouldn’t recommend buying the Antares, but if all you’re looking for is a gadget that will help you and your net worth stand out, the Tonino Lamborghini Antares is your device.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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