I'm over in Barcelona, going phone crazy at Mobile World Congress. Tucked in among the huge, monster-powered smart phones is a new blower from Panasonic that's bearing the Lumix branding proudly worn by its superb line of cameras. There's sadly no official word on a UK release, but we can hope.
Panasonic hasn't had much to show off in the mobile line in a long time, but has unveiled the new Eluga and Eluga Power smart phones to us hungry tech journalists. The Lumix range of phones, however, dispense with the slim and sleek designs but pack lenses and sensors you'd normally expect to find on some of its dedicated compact snappers.
The Lumix Phone 101P that I had a hands-on with packs a 13.2-megapixel sensor -- bigger than the sensors you'd normally get in phones, which should hopefully result in more detailed images. At just under 10mm thick, it's a tad bigger than many new phones we've seen this year, but it is waterproof, so taking some snaps in the rain shouldn't be a problem.
The cameras on most smart phones are often left as a bit of a side dish, with most firms slapping on the standard 5- or 8-megapixel camera and an LED flash, hoping it will satisfy the masses. They often don't give great results, as the sensor is just not big enough to do the job if you're a keen photographer.
Panasonic's Lumix compact cameras have maintained a very high standard for years, so I'm keen to see just what a Lumix Phone will be able to achieve. I haven't been able to test the camera out, but I have high hopes for some great snaps. How it stacks up against the ever-popular iPhone 4S' camera or the mental 41-megapixel Nokia 808 PureView remains to be seen.
Sadly, the phone will remain Japan-only for the time being. I asked Panasonic whether it has plans for a European launch and was told there's nothing confirmed, but that a launch of "some kind" of Lumix phone isn't out of the question. I highly doubt we'll be seeing the 101P in the UK, but it's good to know Panasonic is trying to raise the camera stakes.
I'll make sure to keep you updated if any further info on the Lumix Phone is released. In the meantime, check out the rest of our MWC coverage, and head over to our Facebook page to tell us exactly what you think of this snapper.