Panasonic Eluga DL1 waterproof Android
Dunked in beer and still talking
Review Over the course of the last decade Panasonic all but vanished from the European consumer mobile phone market but it’s back with a bang with the Eluga - an acronym of ‘elegant user-oriented gateway’. Or at least back with a loud thump - the bang is really the Eluga Power, a 5in 720p Qualcomm Krait-powered beast due later this year.
The life aquatic: Panasonic's Eluga DL1 waterproof Android smartphone
What separates the Eluga from the herd is its weight - only 103g, its slender profile - only 7.8mm and the fact its dust and waterproof to IP57 certification which means it will survive in the drink to a depth of 1m for up to 30 minutes.
To test the Eluga’s waterproof credentials the Editor suggested I first dump it in a pint of beer and then make a call while in the shower. It passed the first test with flying colours and more importantly had no adverse effect on the taste of my pint.
It's just the beer talking...
But using it in the shower highlighted a problem - water flowing across the screen causes the panel to go berserk. Fully submerged the touch screen doesn’t work at all. Those differentiating attributes have come at a cost though and it’s not the watertight MicroUSB and micro SIM socket covers at the top of the handset which I found easy enough to open and close.
The first problem is that the slim profile and severe side bevel put the power and volume buttons at such an extreme angle that they are very hard to operate if you hold the phone in your right hand.
Thin but controls are oddly placed
There’s also no memory card expansion - I’m guessing because that would add another slot for potential water ingress - so you are stuck with the built-in 8GB. After system requirements that means you end up with 4.3GB for files and 1.4GB for apps and the former is unlikely to be enough for many users.
Size and weight has also been reduced by the use of a fixed but rather anaemic 1150mAh battery. With so little juice available, this is a handset you will be charging at least once a day, without fail. To give you a more reliable idea of battery life, looping a 720p MP4 video drained it in 3hrs 35mins.
Launcher and browser
Waterproofing aside, the Eluga is quite the minimalist looker due, in no small part, to a screen that takes up an unusually high 66 per cent of the frontal area and some very bright white LEDs beneath the three capacitive system buttons. The 4.3in 540 x 960 256dpi OLED screen adds to the sense of occasion by being crisp, colourful, bright and working well in direct sunlight.
AnTuTu score and storage capacity – how much?
Doing the heavy lifting is the same TI OMAP 4430 chipset  you’ll find in Motorola’s Xoom 2 tablet  with the same 1GB of RAM. In the Eluga though the dual-core CPU has been throttled back from 1.2 to 1GHz. Subjected to the tender mercies of the AnTuTu benchmarking app, the Eluga returned a score of 5,300, which is par for a 1GHz dual-core chip. At the time of writing the Eluga runs Gingerbread but an Ice Cream Sandwich update is imminent.
Polaris and Flext9, a good combo and Eco mode - you'll need this
Panasonic’s launcher – called Fit Home – is wholly unexciting and a bit of a mess but the ICS update may fix that. And even if doesn’t, there are plenty of good launchers in the Play Store or you can simply default back to stock Gingerbread.
The camera is also a bit of a disappointment. To start with there is just the main shooter – no front facing addition – and it doesn’t have a flash. Despite being an 8Mp sensor, the results are flat and insipid compared to what you get from a Nokia Lumia 800. Video can only be recorded at a maximum of 720p and, again, the end result is less than tremendous.
Waterproof, but the battery life and storage capacity may dampen enthusiasm
Anything else you need to know? Well, the Eluga has an NFC radio and the speaker is very quiet, no doubt a result of being shrunk to fit the skinny profile and sealed in to keep water out. There’s also very little software bloat but you do get the excellent Nuance Flext9 keyboard and Polaris Office.
At the moment, the Eluga is only available SIM-free for £310. I hope it finds its way onto contract schemes because, despite its manifest imperfections, I can see this stylish, thin, light and waterproof handset appealing to quite a few folk out there.
In the minus column, the battery life is poor, the camera lacklustre and there’s far too little storage on-board. But on the plus side, the Eluga is stylish, slim, light, waterproof and has a big, bright screen. ®
Thanks to Expansys  for the loan of the review handset.
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