The Panasonic Eluga smartphone represents, according to its maker, an "Elegant, lucent, gateway". While our brief hands-on with the Android-powered smartphone can't confirm each of these claims, we were pleased to get some time with the handset, whose April release will see the manufacturer return to the smartphone market.
Any misconceptions we held after hearing about its shock-resistant and waterproof credentials were blown away by its slim good looks. It's easily pocketable at 123 x 62 x 7.8mm and light at just 103g.
The 4.3in capacitive touchscreen is not made of Gorilla Glass but stood up to its toughened claims when our esteemed counterparts from the international media began dropping it from waist height onto the floor while Panasonic product managers looked on nervously - before returning it to the relative safety of a fish tank full of water. Despite rough treatment from our heavy-handed competitors, the phone remained defiantly intact. It's certified to the IP57 standard, which means it can withstand immersion in water to 1m for at least 30 minutes and is virtually dust-proof.
While not the brightest, the OLED qHD screen has a resolution of 960 × 540 pixels, which, given its slender frame, Panasonic claims is the largest display-area-to-volume ratio on the market. It's a line used to excuse not offering a 720p screen like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but does tell you one thing - the Eluga is incredibly slim.
The phone will ship with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) but will get an update to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) in the summer. It hosts all the bells and whistles you would expect from a smartphone, including microUSB, GPS and an accelerometer. Battery life is a claimed 300hrs on standby with 240 minutes talktime.
The Eluga features a 1GHz dual-core processor with only 8GB storage on bnoard and with no option to expand this relatively meagre offering. The phone features an 8MP camera and can connect to a compatible Lumix camera over Wi-Fi, to relay the camera's shots to the handset.