Music fans and guitar players have been raving about Marshall amplifiers for decades, but the British company only recently entered the broader consumer electronics market with a line of stylized headphones and Bluetooth speakers. It looks like they've got higher ambitions: Marshall just announced its first smartphone, the London, set to release in Sweden (at least) in August. The price will be 4995 Krona, a bit under $600, and at the moment there's no word on a wider release. I'd be amazed if a more expansive rollout for Europe wasn't in the cards - Marshall's website already lists Three, TeliaSonera, and Tele2 as carrier partners.
The specs of the London are decidedly mid-range, at least in terms of pure hardware: it uses a 4.7-inch 720p display, a Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM, just 16GB of storage plus a MicroSD card slot, a removable 2500mAh battery, and an 8MP rear camera. If that doesn't sound like much for six hundred bucks, it isn't. But the London is all about the extra features and, not least, the looks.
The phone's back is covered in a leather-like texture and fitted with brass accents all over to make it look like an old-fashioned amplifier. It's got the stereo front-facing speakers that you'd probably expect from a music-focused phone, and dual headphone ports for sharing that you probably wouldn't. A physical scroll wheel handles volume duties, and a dedicated "M" button on top is reserved for the music app that's currently playing. The London looks like it's trying to blow your eardrums out even in still photos. Oh, and the phone includes a pair of Marshall Mode earbuds, which sell for about $70 all by themselves.
Hey Commodore licensees: this is how you do a branded smartphone.
And that's before you get to the software: Marshall's Android 5.0.2 build looks bone stock from the photos, but it includes a universal equalizer, LoopStack for recording, a DJ app for remixing, and it's compatible with Bluetooth APTX. (That last one isn't all that notable - all modern Android phones are compatible with the high-quality streaming standard.)
Marshall is hoping that the London's stunning looks and targeted software will make up for its somewhat underwhelming specs. Judging by the photos, it might just do that. Right now the phone is set for an August 17th debut, and Swedish customers are being offered a free pair of Marshall over-the-ear headphones for pre-ordering. We'll let you know when broader availability is announced.
- The Verge