Panasonic has been fairly active in the Japanese phone market, but until today it'd stayed out of the European smartphone fray. That changes with the announcement of the Panasonic Eluga, the company's first smartphone for Europe, with a super-thin chassis and dust and water resistance.
Hardware-wise, it's a standard black slab with a 4.3-inch display at qHD (540x960) resolution. Internally, it's powered by a 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core chip, with 1GB of RAM and 8GB internal storage. Imaging needs are taken care of by the 8MP rear camera, and there appears to be no front-facing shooter on the Eluga. The device runs a lightly-skinned Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, and is due an upgrade to Android 4.0 from "Spring 2012." NFC is also included, which will allow European buyers to use Google Wallet (when it's launched), smart tags and other services.
So it's running fairly standard mid to high-end gubbins. Panasonic's bringing some interesting hardware features to the table, though. We already metnioned water and dust-proofing, and the device looks like it's going to be surprisingly thin and light too, weighting 103 grams and measureing 7.8mm thick. That's within a hair of the Huawei P1S, the thinnest smartphone around at the moment. We're a little concerned that the battery is a mere 1150 mAh, though time will tell how that pans out.
Given the timing of today's release, we'd expect to see the Panasonic Eluga at Mobile World Congress next week. If it's there, we'll track it down and bring you full coverage.