Panasonic Eluga Power

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/ Updated: 5 March 2012 3:51 pm GMT

It's barely been a couple of weeks since Panasonic took the cover off its new Eluga smart phone but the company is already excitedly showing off its bigger brother, the Eluga Power.

The Power makes improvements over its sibling in screen size, resolution, Android software and processor power, but keeps the same waterproofing. There's no word on pricing or availability yet, but I expect the Power to be quite pricey.

I've gone hands-on with this new guy at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, so keep your peepers peeled for a full review soon. 

Design

The Eluga power is immediately recognisable as the bigger brother of the regular Eluga. It has the same sleek black styling, with the glass covering the entirety of the front. There's no chunky bezel here so it looks particularly stylish and premium.

Panasonic Eluga Power side
The Eluga Power has an unmistakably premium feel about it.

Like the Eluga, the Power is waterproof to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 seconds. If you often find yourself sheltering from the nasty British weather while trying to make a call, this could be the phone for you. It's also a great safety feature if, like me, you've accidentally dropped your phone in the bath while sending a text with wet hands. 

The Power packs a 5-inch screen though, as opposed to the 4.3-inch display on its little brother. This makes the phone pretty huge in your hand. If you often spend your time browsing the web, watching videos or playing full-screen games on your handset, then the extra screen real estate will come as a welcome addition.

You might, however, find that typing -- especially using your thumb in one hand -- is pretty awkward. It's easier to wield than the enormous Samsung Galaxy Note, but it's not the most pocket-friendly thing on offer. If you need a phone that can easily slip into your jeans, you might want to focus your attention on its slightly smaller sibling.

Whether you like its looks or not is a matter of taste, but I personally find the minimal black front rather attractive. The lack of physical buttons means that the glass front remains unbroken, which adds to the overall stylish, elegant look.

Panasonic Eluga Power buttons
The front is stylishly sparse, with no physical buttons.

Around the back, things are a little less beautiful. You get a large expanse of black plastic, which is pretty much free of design flair. If you're hoping to impress people at your favourite cocktail spot, you might want to bedazzle it with some glitter and stickers.

The plain design is broken by the camera, which is an 8-megapixel affair. I wasn't able to get any test shots done with the camera so I'll have to see just how well it performs in the full review.

You'll also find the volume and power buttons on the back, rather than on the side and top like most phones. That was pretty awkward to get used to. Once you've had the phone for a few hours though you'll probably come to grips with it.

Panasonic Eluga Power camera and switches
The one unusual element of the otherwise bland backplate is the volume and power switches being set there, and not on the top or side of the handset.

Screen

My favourite thing about the Eluga Power is its screen. Not only is it big enough to genuinely enjoy watching video on, it has a superb resolution of 1,280x720 pixels that matches the display found on the Sony Xperia S , which also looked amazing.

I only had a brief hands-on, and it wasn't in great lighting conditions, but the screen seemed bright and vivid, with good colour definition. I'm confident that it will handle high-definition YouTube videos well and the high resolution will make web browsing a pleasant experience.

It's a much better effort than the screen on the normal Eluga. Granted, it's 0.7 inches smaller, but its 960x540-pixel resolution was underwhelming. It's good to see Panasonic pushing the boat out for this new beast.

Panasonic Eluga Power screen
The screen resolution is an impressive 1,280x720 pixels, and it's big enough to actually enjoy watching films on.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich

Panasonic is also pushing the boat out when it comes to software. The Eluga Power will ship with the latest version of the Android operating system known as Ice Cream Sandwich . I'm rather relieved ICS is on the Power, as I was disappointed to see the older 2.3 Gingerbread running on the normal Eluga.

This does, of course, bring into question why Panasonic couldn't put ICS on what is essentially the same phone, only smaller. But at least it's present on the more premium of the two devices.

The Power is running on a 1.5GHz dual-core processor that made swiping around the various home screens extremely responsive. The ICS interface is clean and simple to get around, which resulted in a generally pleasant experience during my hands-on.

Panasonic Eluga Power Android
Hooray! The Eluga Power runs on the latest iteration of the Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Ice Cream Sandwich brings various updates such as the ability to resize live widgets on your home screen. For example, your Facebook widget can be stretched to fit an entire screen so you can easily see what all your friends are up to.

I found performance to be very pleasing on the Power, but I'll reserve my final judgement for the full review, when I can subject it to my usual onslaught of tests in the CNET UK secret laboratory.

Outlook

The Eluga Power makes some significant improvements over the regular Eluga in screen size, resolution, software and processor power. It's likely to be a fair amount more expensive than its little brother though. Stay tuned for a full review soon.

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Panasonic Eluga Power

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