MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Panasonic has unveiled a new ultra-thin, waterproof, Android smartphone called Eluga, which works with the firm’s Smart Viera TVs and uses Panasonic’s display technology.
The move seems to be part of a wider Panasonic strategy for what it’s calling a “smart lifestyle” integrating several of the company’s products.
“We believe the market lacks a range of phones that successfully mixes beauty, high-quality engineering, and the most advanced lifestyle-enhancing technologies,” said Panasonic European CEO Laurent Abadie at the Hamburg launch of the smartphone.
The 3.6 ounce Eluga runs on a dual core 1GHz OMAP 4430 processor from Texas Instruments Inc., sports a 4.3-inch QHD (960x540) screen, 8GB of internal memory, boasts Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and can be immersed in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.
The phone has an eight-megapixel camera with an advanced imaging sensor pulled in from Panasonic’s LUMIX line of digital cameras, as well as a “swipe and share” feature which allows users to 'toss' pictures from the phone to a Panasonic HDTV, or upload it to a cloud service. The technology will also allow users to stream movies from the phone to their TV wirelessly.
Rather disappointingly, the Eluga will apparently run Android 2.3 Gingerbread at launch, but Panasonic has vowed to upgrade the device to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich by the summer.
The phone will be on display at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and talk of an upcoming 5-inch model has already begun.
Panasonic certainly seems to be stepping up its game in the mobile phone market, with Abadie stating the firm planned to sell 1.5 million handsets by March 2013.
Currently, Panasonic’s main market for phones is Japan, but the company is seeking to expand its influence in Europe.
“As consumer demand for mobile phones – especially smartphones – continues to grow and mature in Europe, we believe the market lacks a range of phones that successfully mixes beauty, high-quality engineering, and the most advanced lifestyle-enhancing technologies,” said Abadie.
By tying together smartphones, tablets and TV sets, Panasonic is following in Samsung’s footsteps and taking the much talked about concept of the “connected home” that one step further towards a mainstream reality.
No U.S. release date was announced, but the phone will be out in the U.K. in early April, priced at a steep £449 ($700).