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MWC 2012: Panasonic Announces Waterproof Eluga Power Phone

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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The Eluga Power is the second Panasonic phone designed for non-Japanese markets in more than six years

Panasonic has unveiled  the Eluga Power, a waterproof and dustproof Android smartphone, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The new handset is a higher spec version of the Eluga, which was announced last week, and the two devices are Panasonic’s first to be designed for foreign markets in more than six years.

Making a splash

The Eluga Power features a five-inch 720p LCD display and is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm processor. It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and has an eight megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p video.

The phone is waterproof for up to a depth of one metre and for thirty minutes submerged, while it is also dustproof. Other details have not been disclosed, but it is not foolish to assume that it will share many of the features included in the original Eluga.

Panasonic claims that that Eluga is the one of the lightest Android smartphones ever at 103 grammes and that it has one of the largest screen ratios of any handset on the market. The Eluga, whose name derives from the phrase “Elegant User-Oriented Gateway” has a 4.3 inch screen that comprises 66 percent of the phone’s body.

Panasonic announced its intention to re-enter the mobile market outside its native Japan last December, and has also revealed an Android tablet in the form of the Toughpad, which was designed for businesses seeking a more rugged device.

Panasonic hopes that its new devices will make an impact on the mobile market, but some analysts have questioned whether the company will be able to make a profit.

The idea of a waterproof phone is unusual, but only outside Japan. “About 90 to 95 percent of all phones sold [in Japan] are already waterproof,” Panasonic executive Taro Itakura told AFP at the Mobile World Congress. “Why? This is very unique — young Japanese women prefer to use their cellphones even when taking their showers.”

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