Panasonic are probably more known in western countries for their HDTVs and Lumix digital cameras. The company does have a presence in Japan with some cell phones though after making a brief appearance back in 2005 in other regions such as Europe. Now today Panasonic officially announce the Eluga smartphone, which does lack Android ICS though.
We reported back in December that the company was looking to make a fresh attempt on the smartphone market, and instead of waiting until next week for the MWC 2012 event have shown off their new mobile device today. The company has used their European conference in Hamburg, Germany to show the world its plans.
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Spec wise the device will come packing a 1GHz dual-core processor with a 4.3-inch 540 x 960 qHD display. It will also come with an eight megapixel camera and 8GB of on-board storage as well as NFC compatibility. Other features include Bluetooth 2.1, 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi, and 3G HSPA.
The device certainly looks the part even though it is not the most powerful Android smartphone available, and the team over at TechRadar has managed to get some hands on time with the upcoming device. It will certainly be one of the lightest and slimmest designs available as it weighs only 103g, which compares to the Samsung Galaxy S II that weighs in at 113g.
Sometimes a new smartphone can look the part but fails to deliver on performance, but using the device it was found to be pretty responsive switching between apps and the camera mode. Hardly any lag was noticed while using the Eluga, but obviously this wasn’t in real world tests.
One surprising feature of the handset was the fact it was running Android Gingerbread instead of the latest operating system. This could put the device at a disadvantage considering a number of ICS smartphones could well be revealed at next week’s MWC event. Panasonic will need to get it updated quickly if they are serious about making an impact on the platform.
The screen was found to be big enough but not one of the brightest that is available, and will not match up to the displays found on some rival Android handsets. Both the look and feel of the device was liked and the fact there is no physical buttons on the front further hints at Ice Cream Sandwich in the future.
Physical buttons that are present have been positioned on the far side of the handset on the very edge of the rounded back. This will mean users will have less chance of knocking them accidently when it is in use. Camera wise it has an eight megapixel unit that was found to provide reasonable images with quick shutter response.
One great feature of the Panasonic Eluga is that it is waterproof. The feature was demonstrated by the device being lowered into a bowl of water without any adverse affects. This is reminiscent of the HZO technology we reported about last month. The company is also claiming the device is dustproof as well.
The Eluga has yet to be priced but is expected to be released throughout Europe during the spring, but it is not known if it will be reaching US shores. Panasonic will be entering an already crowded Android market let alone going up against other platforms such as the iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
Already established manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and LG have already got a major foothold in the Android stable. But for us consumer’s competition is always a good thing as it gives more choice, and often cheaper prices.
Until more news on pricing for the Eluga is known and how it performs out in the wild, we won’t know if Panasonics move will pay off. Getting the handset updated to Android ICS will help matters though.