Panasonic ELUGA Review

Introduction and Design

The launch of the Panasonic ELUGA is a notable event as it marks the return of the company to the European and U.S. markets. For quite a while, primarily the Japanese got to enjoy the funky handsets that the manufacturer delivered, leaving us wondering what we could be missing on. Well, the time has come to check out a Panasonic handset once again. In terms of specs, the Panasonic ELUGA comes with hardware pretty similar to what the Motorola RAZR has to offer: a dual-core OMAP4430 chipset, 4.3-inch AMOLED display, 8-megapixel camera, and all of that encased inside a body you can slide through a pin's eye (metaphorically speaking). Seems promising enough, so let's fire this baby up and see how it performs in real life.

The box contains:
  • Wall charger
  • Data cable
  • One NFC card
  • Quick start guide and warranty


Since we deal with bland looking phones quite often, it is truly refreshing to see a smartphone with a non-conformist design. Most notably, the Panasonic ELUGA is one razor thin device measuring just 7.8 millimeters at its thickest point. We are just as impressed by the fact that at 103 grams, the ELUGA is among the lightest smartphones around. Putting these two traits together produces a handset that we genuinely enjoy holding, especially since it fits nicely in our palm thanks to its sloped sides. The only detail that spoils the fun is the somewhat boring plastic back cover, but at least its matte finish makes it immune to visible fingerprints. For those of you who fancy notification lights, there is one located at the smartphone's front side.

About that aforementioned IP57certification, it basically means that the Panasonic ELUGA is resistant to dust and water damage. To be more specific, it should withstand a dunk at up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. Surprisingly, there are no visual cues pointing at any resistance to the elements – something that we are quite happy with since rugged smartphones are often anything but good looking.

You can compare the Panasonic ELUGA with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Now it is time for the bad stuff, namely the positioning of the lock key and 2-button volume rocker. As you can see from the photos, they technically reside on the back of the device, and we cannot tell you how frustrating this design execution is. Holding the smartphone with your left hand means that your fingers can wrap around the handset and easily reach these keys, but when the phone is in your right hand, operating them requires far too much finger acrobatics. The solution? Get used to holding the Panasonic ELUGA with your left hand, apparently.


Measuring 4.3 inches in diagonal, the display should fit the preferences of most smartphone users. We are looking at an AMOLED panel with a respectable for its size resolution of 540 by 960 pixels (256ppi). Even though the screen uses a PenTile pixel arrangement, we rarely notice any jaggedness caused by that particularity, and you most likely won’t see much of it either. Pixels aside, colors on the ELUGA’s display look way too saturated for our taste, and whites easily become blueish when the device is viewed even at a slight angle. Outdoor visibility is quite good, however, as the screen is bright and does not reflect too much sunlight.

Panasonic ELUGA 360-degrees View:


Until the Ice Cream Sandwich update for the Panasonic ELUGA is ready to roll out, users will have to make do with Gingerbread. Android 2.3.5, that is – mostly stock, yet treated to a few light cosmetic modifications.  Users can choose how many icon slots to have on their home screens, with 3 by 3, 4 by 4, and 4 by 5 grids being among the available outlays – a nice little touch that we quite like, although it requires manual rearrangement of icons and widgets every time you tweak it. Pre-installed and downloaded applications are sorted in two different lists, which makes finding a particular app a bit more convenient.

There are five home screens at your disposal with the middle one coming up when the home button is pressed. Widgets are pretty much stock, and the few included by Panasonic are neither good looking nor too useful.

If you are used to typing on portrait virtual keyboards with both thumbs, forget about doing that on the Panasonic ELUGA. Typing with a single finger instead is a lot more comfortable in this case. Alternatively, the on-screen keyboard is pretty easy to use in landscape mode. It is nice to see that an auto-compete bar has been added. When enabled, it greatly increases typing speed with its suggestions, and if you make a typo, it will be corrected on the fly.

Processor and memory:

The Panasonic ELUGA is powered by a 1GHz dual-core OMAP4430 chipset by TI paired with a whole gigabyte of RAM, but the software obviously does not make the most of that otherwise decent hardware. That is because interface transitions are noticeably choppy, especially when there are more than a few icons and widgets on the home screens. Oh well, at least the several games that we installed ran smoothly. Hopefully, this performance issue will be addressed once the Ice Cream Sandwich update is out.

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Panasonic Eluga18905444failed to run
Samsung Galaxy S II3113607651
Samsung Galaxy Nexus2000550324
HTC One S4867701260,7

The 8 gigabytes of storage might be enough for a casual smartphone user, but after you throw some music on there, install a few apps, and take a bunch of photos, space will start to run out. The actual user-available memory is as follows: 1.6 gigabytes for applications and 4.3 gigabytes are allocated for storage (media, documents, etc.) Sadly, there is no way to expand the smartphone’s storage capacity with a microSD card, so users should keep an eye on how their storage is being used.

Software and functionality:

With the help of the pre-installed Data Security app, users can disable unauthorized access to certain features such as e-mail, documents, photos, and videos. There is a good variety of code- or pattern-protected screen unlock widgets as well. Setting up these features is a somewhat tedious process, but if your personal data is of importance, we recommend taking advantage of these features. Another goodie that Panasonic has thrown in is the so-called “eco mode”, which is basically a battery life preserving utility that adjusts display brightness and disables certain features should the battery level drop below a certain level. The pre-installed PC Backup app is another software tool that we believe you will find useful.

Internet browser and Connectivity:

For the most part, the stock web browser gets the job done well, but it leaves room for improvement. Heavy pages can be somewhat laggy to scroll through, but we didn't have that issue with alternative browsers such as Opera or Firefox. Other than that we don't find anything wrong with the stock browser. Adobe Flash is supported, along with features like tap to zoom, pinch to zoom, text reflow, and support for multiple windows.

The Panasonic ELUGA can connect to the internet either via Wi-Fi b/g/n or over 3G at up to 21Mbps on the downlink, which is a pretty good rating. Of course, you get the usual connectivity features like Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR, A-GPS and DLNA. The microUSB port allows you to hook up the smartphone to a computer for charging, internet sharing, or easy data transfers in mass storage mode. There is support for NFC as well, and a single NFC tag has been included in the set. With the help of some pre-installed software, you can have various settings altered and/or a program launched upon tapping the tag and the phone together – a feature that some users will surely find pretty useful.

While playing with the smartphone outdoors, we tested the responsiveness of its GPS radio. Our location was pin-pointed within a minute and a half from a cold start, but that is not as bad as the 15 seconds or more that it required each time we launched Google Maps afterwards. That may not sound like much, but 9 out of 10 of the phones we review take no longer than a couple of seconds to do that.


Given that Panasonic has an extensive background in making digital cameras, it is a bit underwhelming to find an 8-megapixel cameraof average quality on the back of the Panasonic ELUGA. In broad daylight, photos look okay for the most part, although fine details are being smudged by noise suppression algorithms. The frame is captured about a second after the shutter is pressed, and capturing the next image requires about two more. Clearly, these figures would have been okay a year ago, but our expectations are a bit higher nowadays. We are also left wondering why there is no flash on the back of the device. Needless to say, shooting under low-light conditions does not produce eye-pleasing results. Videos can be taken in 720p resolution and look quite presentable.


When it comes to multimedia, the audio and video player that come standard on the Panasonic ELUGA do not differ much from what stock Android 2.3 offers. The music player is pretty straightforward to use and comes with its own home screen widget, so we cannot really ask for more. Besides, it will get support for FLAC audio files once the Android 4.0 update is released. The video player is pretty simple as well with videos of up to 720p playing back smoothly. Our QuickTime and MPEG4 video samples were playable, but support for the DivX format is absent. Whether it will be added through the aforementioned software update remains to be seen. As a whole, watching videos on the Panasonic ELUGA is a pleasant experience due to the screen's 4.3-inch diagonal.


It is difficult to say which we are more disappointed by – the earpiece or the microphone on the Panasonic ELUGA. The earpiece emits voice tones that crackle at times and generally don't sound too pleasing, not to mention that the volume level is average at best. On the other side of the line, voices, albeit pretty loud, are very hard to distinguish.

But we are not over just yet. The battery inside the handset has a relatively small capacity of 1,150mAh and cannot be removed. That should provide you with only 4 hours of talk time or about 12 days on stand-by, which are figures that most of today's smartphones easily beat.


“Style over substance” – this is the idea around which the Panasonic ELUGA has been designed. It is the slim profile and low weight combined with resistance to dust and water damage that make this smartphone stand out. However, the poor audio quality, awkward buttons, and below average battery life are a bit of a letdown. 

Some of the Panasonic ELUGA alternatives that we would recommend include the Motorola RAZR, which is incredibly thin, yet technically superior due to its better hardware. The HTC One S is another great example of a well executed slim Android smartphone, and although it is not resistant to the elements, it is equipped with a better camera and speedier processor.

Software version of the reviewed unit:

Android version: 2.3.5
Baseband version: LUD_APX901526_DELIVERY_120315_1302
Kernel version:
Build number: 07.5109

Panasonic ELUGA Review:


  • Catchy looks, slim and lightweight
  • Resistant to dust and water damage
  • NFC


  • Low in-call audio quality
  • Poorly designed physical buttons
  • No LED flash
  • Below average battery life
  • Gingerbread at launch

PhoneArena Rating:


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