The kooky Siemens SX1 had a McLaren limited edition, but other phone makers have partnered up with the racing brand too. That happened a few years later when carrier Vodafone signed on to be the title sponsor of the McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team (the deal lasted from 2007 to 2013).
Since it was the carrier calling the shots, it created a branding that was applied to several existing Samsung and Sharp phones to create limited editions for the 2007 championship.
First up is the Samsung Z720 or to give its full name the “Vodafone McLaren Mercedes SGH-Z720M”. A tiny slider with a tiny 2.1” display, this was actually a fairly capable device. It had a 3.15MP camera on the rear and a VGA cam on the front that could be used for video calling over 3G. It had a microSD slot and MP3 support, though it used headphones with a proprietary connector, which wasn’t ideal.
Next up is the Sharp 770SH. Well, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 770SH, you get the picture. The 2.2” screen was barely any bigger than the one on the Samsung even though flip phones are more efficient in how they use space (e.g. the D-pad was on the lower half, not below the display).
This one was a 3G phone too, but with less capable cameras – 1.3 MP main and a QCIF video cam (176 x 144 px). It had a microSD slot and an MP3 player too, though again with a proprietary headphones connector. It sold for €69 in Vodafone stores (on contract, of course).
The last of the bunch is the Sharp GX29. This one was more compact with a 2.0” display and smaller dimensions. However, the camera was even more limited (640 x 480 px main and 128 x 96 px video call cam). Also, it lost the microSD slot and music players.
The Aston Martin brand has graced a few phones over the years. In a previous installment we covered the Nokia 8800 limited edition, but that was clearly a Nokia. Back in 2012 something with less clear origins appeared – the Aston Martin Aspire appeared. It was a $1,300 luxury device, $1,600 if you wanted the 24K gold plated one.
It ran Android 2.3 Gingerbread on an 800MHz processor with 256MB RAM and 512MB storage (+ microSD slot). It had a 320 x 480 px display, 5MP rear and VGA front cameras and came with a snazzy leather pouch. The leather-bound box that it came in really said “you spent $1,300 on a phone”, unlike today’s tiny, eco-friendly boxes.
Let’s take a break from fast, sporty car brands and look at something more imposing. Remember the Hummer? It is a civilian version of the military vehicle and, perhaps, an odd inspiration for a phone, but here we are.
Or we were in 2007 when the Hummer HT1 was designed by the French firm ModeLabs. It sold for €300 in Europe – not exactly the Hummer’s biggest market. Still, the D-pad was styled after the enormous vehicle’s hubcap, so that’s something, right?
This 2G phone also featured a 2.2” touchscreen, a 2MP camera, 256MB of built-in storage that could be expanded by microSD cards. That extra storage was also used by the MP3 music and MPEG4 video players.
Despite the Hummer image, this wasn’t a rugged phone like the Land Rover S1 we saw in a previous edition.
ModeLabs had another go and created the Hummer HT2. This one was a bar phone and once again it completely lacked any protection and ruggedness. It had a tiny LCD with 220 x 176 px resolution and the hubcap D-pad made another appearance.
Two brands often join together to cross-promote their products, but it is not always successful. Maybe a few McLaren fans bought those Vodafone handsets, but how many Hummer phones did ModeLabs sell? That is unclear, but at least it tried.