Panasonic has been largely silent on the smartphone front for the last few years, at least outside of Japan. That changes at Mobile World Congress, where they're showing off the Eluga smartphone - not to mention its bigger brother, the ELUGA Power. This model differs from its smaller version with a full 5-inch screen, putting it squarely in "phablet" territory. If Panasonic wants to make a splash with the new hardware, that's certainly a way to get people's attention.
The screen is a full 1280x720 panel, an improvement upon the 4.3-inch qHD screen on the regular Eluga. Despite the larger size, the phone is still relatively slim at 9.6mm. Inside it gets the same 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon, and based on what we saw, the performance is impressive if not outstanding. Like most of the new phones here at MWC, it's running Ice Cream Sandwich, and may need a little more time in the oven as far as software is concerned. They've got some time to work on it - neither phone is set to land in Europe for a few months at least.
As far as styling goes, the Eluga is a little bland. Not awful, just understated in a way that's likely to get it overlooked next to more ergonomic competition. When comparing it with other large-screen phones like the Galaxy Note and Optimus Vu, it's definitely a little behind the times - though in both cases, it's got the advantage of mostly stock Ice Cream Sandwich. Currently, Panasonic has shown no intention of releasing the phone outside of Europe.
For a look at the standard Eluga taking a dunk (to show off its water-resistant capabilities) check out SlashGear's write-up. And make sure to keep an eye on the Mobile World Congress portal this week for more breaking news.