Panasonic are making a move into the smartphone market by releasing the Eluga, a new ultra-thin phone that is hoping to use style to make a dent in the market that is mostly dominated by the likes of Samsung, Blackberry and Samsung to name a few.
In a market that is so busy these phones have to have something special to make them stand out, especially with the quality and sophistication of models that are being released now. The question is can Panasonic make an impact with this new Android phone or will it be just another nice looking competitor?
At 7.8mm the Panasonic Eluga is thin; it’s also very light at 103g. The screen comes in at around 4.3 inches and reaches to the sides of the phone, so very little borders which means it uses all the space it can to provide all the usability of the touchscreen itself.
The style of the phone is minimalist in design which is a nice fashionable look. A strange addition to the look though are small white lights near the buttons on the bottom of the phone, these feel unnecessary and have no real use.
On the reverse of the phone there is the usual camera which is 8-megapixel. The area surrounding the lens itself is raised slightly which is a nice addition as it protects it from scratches that can happen on some phones. Power and volume buttons sit on the edges of the back of the phone which is quite strange as these are often more intuitively on the side.
The operating system installed on the phone at the moment is Android Gingerbread (version 2.3.5) this will be upgradable to Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) in the future. The usual built in apps are present (email, YouTube, music and calendar apps) with some Panasonic extras.
The extras from Panasonic are mainly for use with their own products like the Viera remote control app (shown in the video above) for use with their TV range as well as access to DNLA applications to stream images and videos to a DNLA connected TV as well as an app to upload images and videos to the internet. Also included is an NFC launcher for the user to be able to swipe NFC cards and tags to instantly open apps and websites which is a nice touch. As usual on an Android phone games can be downloaded by the Google Play Store.
As well as the camera (which surprisingly has no flash) and the NFC card technology this phone is also waterproof which is a nice touch. There is 8GB of internal storage which is quite poor when you compare it to such phones as the Sony Xperia S which has 32GB as standard, this can be extended using MicroSD cards which feels slightly inferior in technology.
The general feeling on the features though is they are slightly too little. The Panasonic extra apps for example can be distracting and in some cases disappointing if you don’t have the TV to use them for example. The placing of the buttons on the back of the phone also feels strange as it’s a change from what is felt to be “normal” on phones of this type and loses its intuitive feel that most phones have.
The phone features a 1Ghz dual-core processor which is surprisingly sluggish when compared to some of its counterparts (for the Sony Xperia S for example which is 1.5Ghz). It’s disappointing that there is an obvious feeling of lag when going between applications and web browsing can feel slow. The battery life is adequate and features a fast charge time (30 minutes for 50% charge) but again when compared to other phones in the same category does not perform as well.
This phone feels like all style and little substance, especially against phones that have been released by more seasoned smartphone companies. It’s a case of nice try, but it is fairly obvious that thus is a first-time attempt at an Android phone. With the lack of flash on the phone, low memory storage and a feel of the phone being counter-intuitive in both apps and phone design it is held back.
There will be an Eluga Power 1.5Ghz released soon which has a 1.5Ghz processor and upgraded screen but when this will cost more and it is assumed keep some of the poor design choices it’s questionable that Panasonic can make the changes required. This will be seen though when this version is released. It’s a case of this not being a bad smartphone, just not enough to offer much competition to the other bigger names.