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Following on from the Eluga, Panasonic will launch its first high-end smartphone for Western comsumers, the Eluga Power. This device takes the design language of the original Eluga, and builds on it with a 5-inch HD buttonless display, a faster 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

We got to play with a very early prototype unit today at Mobile World Congress, and despite some understandable software quirks, we were pretty impressed by what we saw. We've got first impressions after the jump, along with our hands-on video.

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Physically, the Eluga Power is a slightly larger, slightly chunkier version of the original Eluga. It retains the same curved back shape, though now there's a little more visual finery, in the form of a silver trim around the edge of the handset. The front, as ever, is dominated by the gignatic 5-inch screen, which sports the slimmest of bezels on the left and right sides.

For its high-end model, Panasonic's used its own LCD technology rather than the OLED panel in its mid-range offering. During our time with the prototypes at MWC, we were impressed with the crispness of the image and the color quality, which to our eyes at least matched Samsung's HD SuperAMOLED.

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Software-wise, the Eluga Power is running vanilla Android 4.0, at least for the moment. The software loaded onto the prototype units was very much pre-release, resulting in a few huccips that we'd expect to be resolved before release.

All in all, it's difficult -- not to mention unwise -- to judge a smartphone based on such an early prototype, but we're optimistic about the Eluga Power based on what we've seen so far. Panasonic seems to be bringing out the big guns for this model, and we can't wait to see how it shapes up as release approaches.

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