The overbearing question you might be asking right now is, “does Panasonic even make smartphones?” The short answer is ‘yes’, the longer answer is, ‘yes’, and they seem quite great.
The Japanese manufacturer, who is widely known for its washing machines, audio visual equipment and Lumix range of cameras is bringing its smartphones to the South African market for the first time.
Oddly though, Panasonic has been manufacturing handsets for Vodacom and MTN for some time now, albeit without their branding.
Leaving a Mark
The first, “high-end” handset from the brand has been given the name Eluga Mark. You may be wondering why we refer to it as “high-end” and that’s because Panasonic is expected to start pricing at the R5 000 mark.
Before you lift your nose dear premium smartphone fan, take a look at what the Mark is packing under its 5.5inch IPS display.
The chipset Panasonic has chosen is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 which is paired with an octa-core processor at a speed of 1.5GHz and 2GB of RAM to accompany it.
Camera duties are handled by a 13MP sensor at the back and a 5MP sensor looking at your mug. The sad news however is that the Mark only has 16GB of internal storage, boo! Thankfully though, you can increase the storage with a microSD card.
The battery is a 2 500mAh Lithium-polymer affair so that should keep you going for at least a day.
While using the handset we were actually well impressed. The aluminum body is curved nicely, the display is responsive and the user interface (Panasonic’s own flavour of Android) is well designed. By Panasonic’s own account the UI has been designed to be used with one hand because, “it just makes sense”.
An Arc of Triumph
The Eluga Arc was next in line to be fondled, and this handset just has wow written all over it. The smaller 4.7inch display has a slight curve at the edges and the theme of aluminum coverings continues.
The price is also very tempting with Panasonic expecting it to sell for between R3 000 and R4 000, though this price is subject to change.
The Arc uses one of our favourite chipsets, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410. We’ve seen in the past that this low powered chipset can deliver a great user experience without barging through battery life, or indeed, your wallet.
This version uses a quad-core CPU running at a speed of 1.2GHz with 2GB of RAM wrapping up the compute side of things.
For the rear camera Panasonic has chosen an 8MP sensor with an 5MP front facing while a 1 800mAh Li-po battery rounds things off.
Both the Mark and the Arc house fingerprint scanners and support LTE connectivity. Both of the handsets are expected to officially hit shelves at around June.
Low-cost LTE connection
The final handset we had time to play around with was the T45. This little handset has a 4.5inch FWVGA display that is running a 1GHz quad-core CPU. There is a small 5MP rear camera with flash at the back and a VGA camera at the front.
Sadly, this being a handset with low specifications there is only 8GB of internal storage though you can plug a microSD card into the phone to increase storage by up to 32GB.
Panasonic tells us that the T45 will retail for under R2 000 which, isn’t a bad price, especially when you consider that this little handset has support for LTE connectivity.
We did notice a fair amount of lag while operating the phone but these are just short hands-on sessions so we won’t judge it too harshly until we get one for proper testing.
The rest of Panasonic’s smartphone offering is not bad at all and is definitely worth a look if you’re the type of person who isn’t too happy to walk around with R12 000 against your ear.
These three handsets are just a taste of what’s to come from the brand and we’re very excited to test them out when they hit our shores.
Not bad for a company that you thought only made kitchen appliances right?