If one of your big smartphone worries is that you might accidentally drop the thing in the water, Panasonic’s (NYSE:PC) Eluga might be worth a look.
Equipped with the Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, the Eluga, with a 4.3-inch OLED display, and the more powerful Eluga Power, with a 5-inch screen, are seen as Panasonic’s bid to grab a bigger share of the smartphone markets outside of Japan. The phone was introduced this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and is expected to debut in April in Japan and Europe, where it will sell for $535 to $600 before whatever available carrier subsidies are applied. The phone is expected to release in the U.S. in April.
As noted on tech-gear site Engadget, the phone is thin, water-resistant and dustproof, offers near-field communication technology (NFC) for wireless payments, an 8-megapixel camera, 1080p full-HD video capability, and 8GB of storage, although the Eluga Power can be expanded to 32GB.
However, relative to its smartphone competitors, including Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, Eluga seems underpowered with a 1-gigahertz dual-core Texas Instruments processor. It operates on Android 2.3.5 (aka Gingerbread). Customers who buy the phone when it becomes available in Europe can upgrade to Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) via a wireless update later this summer. The Eluga Power, which includes Android 4.0, comes equipped with a faster, 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. One other, oft-cited complaint: battery capacity—a 1,150 milli-ampere/hour battery in the Eluga and a 1,800mAh battery in the Eluga Power—is underwhelming for phones in their price range.
Some observers have also wondered aloud whether the name—which might sound to some like the clinical term for, say, a throat infection—is a marketing stumble. We’ll have a year to see how it plays in Japan and Europe.