Panasonic is one of the world's largest TV manufacturers. The company also makes other gadgets, including smartphones, though no one would blame you if you haven't heard of any of its handsets. I mean, how many people ran out to buy this cordless phone? And who had the money to spend on a LUMIX CM1?
But Panasonic has produced and sold a few low-end smartphones priced below 5,000 rupees in India. Now it is launching a device costing 10,999 called the Eluga Icon, the latest entry in a line of handsets that began in 2012.
The Panasonic LUMIX CM1 is a strange beast: it's an Android phone with a huge focus on photography, a la the Galaxy S4 Zoom. But unlike that rather mid-range device (both in terms of Android hardware and photography prowess), the CM1 features a massive 1-inch, 20-megapixel camera sensor with a Leica 28mm F/2.8 lens and... dramatic pause... a manual focus ring. When it was announced at the Photokina trade show last year, Panasonic made it very clear that the LUMIX Smart Camera DSC-CM1 was only for the European market.
According to Gizmodo, that's changing this year. The technology blog says that the CM1 will be headed stateside in an unlocked GSM form "sometime this summer" for $1000 USD.
Samsung's Android-based Galaxy Zoom phones haven't exactly been a runaway hit. Maybe it's because no one really wants a massive camera strapped to the back of their phone, or maybe it's because they're lumpy and expensive. Whatever the case might be, Panasonic is throwing its hat into the super powerful phone-camera with the LUMIX Smart Camera DSC-CM1, a gorgeous little point and shoot that hides a full Android phone (including calls and data) on its back end.
The phone portion of the CM1 is relatively high-end, with a 2.3Ghz Snapdragon 800 processor, a 4.7-inch 1080p screen, 2GB of RAM, and a surprisingly unskinned version of KitKat.
Panasonic's KX-PRX120, besides having a sexy name, is quite the handset. It runs Ice Cream Sandwich, has access to the Play Store, and sports a 3.5 inch touch-screen that would not look out on place on display next to any other budget smartphone. The thing is, buyers won't want to tote it around town. This digital cordless phone is too timid for that lifestyle and works best within the confines of its own home.
Consider this a premium cordless phone for people who still, well, need dedicated landlines and perhaps lack access to a smartphone with the same functionality. It's a smartphone for people who don't need, like, or want smartphones.
In case there was any doubt that 5 inches is the new standard for Android superphones, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has removed all of it with a new hardware series. Right at the top of the list is a new device from Panasonic in their relatively young Eluga family, this one christened the ELUGA X P-O2E. The 5-inch LCD screen is naturally 1080p, and hides a 1.5Ghz quad-core Snapdragon Pro processor, and a 13.2 megapixel camera. Colors are a flat black and a more interesting teal, as seen below.
Other specifications include an increasingly pedestrian battery capacity of 2320mAh, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (with a little over 8 dedicated to the system), LTE, and Android 4.1.
Taking a new approach to firmware upgrades, Panasonic has decided to update its Eluga handset to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich via a downloadable Play Store app appropriately named 'ELUGA ICS Update.'
For those who don't remember, the Eluga is a little-talked-about handset that debuted in Spring 2012 in Europe and Japan, touting a waterproof and dustproof chassis.
According to its description, Panasonic's update app "connects to Panasonic download server [sic] and downloads the Ice Cream Sandwich software update." Of course, many of us are familiar with what improvements Ice Cream Sandwich brings over Gingerbread 2.3.x, but Panasonic emphasizes the new "powerful new features" of its custom skin as well, listing the lock screen, status bar, home screen, and app drawer as areas of improvement with the update.
Panasonic is set to enter the high-end smartphone market in Europe and Japan in the coming weeks with the waterproof and dustproof Eluga.
We first saw the Eluga at Mobile World Congress last month, and although it looks like a great phone on paper, with a dual-core CPU and qHD display, it disappointed us when we went hands-on. Nevertheless, this is still big news for the European market, where Panasonic isn't known as a smartphone brand at all. The waterproof feature is sure to give the phone a head start against its competitors; in case you didn't know, it tends to rain a lot in England...
When Panasonic announced the original ELUGA for the European smartphone market, we were a little underwhelmed. Today the ELUGA gets a new, awkwardly-capitalized older brother, the ELUGA power. True to its name, the device is considerably more powerful than its predecessor. Which is good, because this series needs all the help it can get.
Here's the rundown on the new hardware:
A 1280x720 HD, 5.0 inch LCD screen with a 9.6mm thin frame.
Panasonic's new smartphone, the Eluga (like the whale, minus the B), is actually a pretty decent looking device. On paper, and in person. Its dual-core TI OMAP4430 processor is a proven piece of kit in phones like the DROID RAZR, and it's 4.3" qHD display isn't bad looking at all. With 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, it actually sounds like it might even be good. Yeah, the thing is, it's not. At all. Just watch the hands-on video, and you'll see why:
Yes, they were all that slow. No, there isn't anything wrong with the video. The performance is so bad that the phone is pretty much unusable in its current state.
Until today, Panasonic had been keeping their high end Android phones to themselves in the Japanese market. That's about to change with the advent of the Eluga. Panasonic announced the new device today in Hamburg for release some time in March. We're promised that the phone will be waterproof and dustproof, which is great for all those times that you have your phone out in a dusty rain storm.
Here's a list of the key specs:
4.3" qHD display
8GB of onboard memory
Dual-core 1Ghz processor
All in all, the device sounds like a fantastic device...for early 2011.