Panasonic: “We’re back!” (With a slim, sexy, high-tech Android smartphone)

Do you remember when the words “Panasonic” and “Mobile Phone” stood for high quality top-of-the-range handsets? I do. They were the good old days. I remember getting the Panasonic GD87 on contract from Vodafone. It was one of their two marquee handsets for the first version(s) of Vodafone Live — and goodness me, I seriously enjoyed that handset. It was brilliant. The camera was superb (for the time), I really liked the clamshell interface, the buttons were great… ah dear. Memories! Memories!

I think it’s fair to say I have a soft spot for Panasonic. So I was delighted to hear that Panasonic has announced it’s European return. They are most definitely back — and in a rather smooth, suave, sophisticated manner. The first of their new range is called the ELUGA (“Elegant user-oriented gateway”). It’s ridiculously thin and it’s backed with technology. Indeed, let me dispense with the descriptions and move straight to their release. You need to read this.

At Panasonic’s convention, Abadie launched the ELUGA, an ultra-slim, waterproof and dustproof Android smartphone that contains NFC technology, one of the largest screen-to-phone ratio on the European market, and ‘Swipe and Share’ technology that works with the company’s range of VIERA televisions. At just 103 grams, the Panasonic ELUGA is also one of the lightest Android smartphone in Europe.

ELUGA – stemming from the phrase ‘elegant user-oriented gateway’ – is the launch model for Panasonic’s range  of devices designed to be ultra-thin but pack in high-end technology for demanding consumers. Features of the launch model include:

  • A super thin frame and 4.3-inch large QHD (960×540) screen with exceptional viewing quality. The ultra-slim D shaped design slips easily into a pocket without spoiling the line of clothes.
  • Being dust protected to IP5X and waterproof to IPX7 means the device is extremely hardy, including the ability to still work after immersion in water for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 metre.
  • Near-field communication (NFC) technology means the phone is ready for ‘no touch’ interactions, including contactless payments.
  • The Swipe and Share feature enables users to wirelessly ‘throw’ pictures from the phone to TV or cloud services, or stream movies from the phone to a TV. The phone also works as a remote control for other electronic devices in the home (such as a Viera TV, DIGA Blu-ray player and recorder, home cinema system, or digital still camera).
  • The range will also feature ‘eco mode’, Panasonic’s unique power-saving technology which provides significant environmental benefit by shutting down non-essential features when the phone is running low on battery power.

I have to say this sounds seriously impressive. It would have been easy for Panasonic to cut-and-paste from the likes of HTC or Samsung and knock-out some kind of reference-design-based Android horror. It looks to me like they’ve actually let their design teams go crazy. Water-proof to 1 metre for 30 minutes? Goodness me! That sticks it to the recent “Splashproof” handsets doing the rounds. 103 grams in weight? A remote control for all of your home devices? Come on. Very exciting!

Needless to say Panasonic will be showing their mobile wares to an eager industry next week at Mobile World Congress at stand CY31. All things being equal, I’ll be there and I’ll be taking a look in-depth.

Until then, here’s two photos to get the appetite going.

[Sidebar: I still have a REAL problem with manufacturers making phones that are ridiculously thin. I’m way past worrying about how ‘cool’ it looks. I actually want it to function for an entire day with reasonable use. So I’m pleased to see Panasonic has at least given this some thought in the form of their ‘eco mode’. We’ll find out just how well the device battery performs in due course.]

And here’s the phone again in a bit more of an arty shot — look at that huge camera lens on the back! Bring it on.


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