If a handset player doesn’t have a phone for the Indian market, it is not on the right track. This is not a personal statement. Rather, it is a reflection of what is happening in the country. Except for a few players that you can count on your fingers, almost all the major players from across the globe have launched their phones in India.
The latest to join the party is Panasonic, with the Panasonic P51, and that’s not all, it has even tied up with the Jaina Group (parent company of Karbonn mobiles) for leveraging their distribution network for making P51 available across India.
We have been reviewing Panasonic P 51 for the last 14 days and here is our take on the company’s first smartphone for Indian consumers.
Inside the box
In the box of Panasonic P 51 you will found a magnetic flip cover, stylus, charger and data cable. We didn’t find use for the stylus as the device was quite responsive to touch.
Also, instead of a magnetic flip cover a full smart cover would have been quite handy.
Look and feel
If you don’t take a close look at Panasonic P51 or hold it in your hand, you might mistake it for LG Nexus 4 for they look remarkably similar.
But, you will feel the difference after holding it in your hand. The back panel of the smartphone is slightly protruding, which gives Panasonic P51 a unique design. Its full glass front panel is surrounded by a raised grey coloured graphite strip (in the white model,) which protects the screen from scratches when it is face down.
The Panasonic P51 has a unibody design, thus one cannot replace the battery. We received the white coloured unit for review. It has a glossy plastic body but isn’t a fingerprint magnet. It doesn’t feel cheap but I would prefer the black coloured device with a rubberised back panel.
The 5 inch screen of the Panasonic P51 is made of Asahi Dragon Trail glass. It is claimed to be better than Gorilla glass in terms of scratch resistance.
The front panel of the smartphone doesn’t have any capacitive buttons-return, home or menu; rather, they are embedded in the display itself and thus can be accessed when you turn on the device. The top of the front panel has a steel mesh grill and front camera, and a couple of sensors.
In the top panel you will find a power button along with a 3.5 mm jack. On the right side of the phone there is a volume rocker and right below it a micro SD card slot, which is covered by a plastic door. The left panel of the smartphone houses two micro SIM card slots covered with a single plastic door, and a micro USB port.
The overall body of P51 looks solid. The design is attractive but the button and port placement could have been better. The power button is not easily accessible; the volume rocker and micro USB ports are awkwardly placed. After using the phone for some time you will get used to the button and port placements, but you will wonder why Panasonic made such silly flaws in the design.
Nonetheless, the above mentioned flaws cannot take away the goodness of the overall design of the smartphone and the good quality plastic used in making it, as compared to Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.
Panasonic P51 has a 5 inch IPS display with 1280 Ã— 720 pixel resolution made of Dragon Trail glass.
The pixel density of the display is 294 ppi and as compared to other devices with 1280 Ã— 720 pixel resolution, it has better colour reproduction and outdoor visibility.
Viewing pictures or videos on Panasonic P51 is a pleasure. Surfing the web or checking out mails is not stressful on the eyes either. I was not comfortable using the magnetic flip cover so during the review I used the smartphone without any protective covering. Despite my rough usage there were no scratch marks on the display.
Panasonic P51 has an auto focus 8 megapixel rear facing camera and a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera.
Snaps taken with the rear camera gave good results in well-lit conditions and in low light they were of average quality. Especially portraits and close ups come out really well. Also, auto focus does a good job.
Panasonic has not overlaid a unique user interface over the camera app and it comes in standard modes like panorama, smile detect and HDR, but not multi-angle, which is a sweeping panorama made of multiple angles of a picture stitched into a single snap.
The rear camera of P51 can also record full HD (1080p) videos. To avoid shakes while recording it has incorporated software based image stabilisation. Video quality along with audio is quite good in well-lit conditions though in low light it is found wanting.
The 1.3 megapixel camera is okay for self-portraits as well as for video chatting.
Hardware and performance
Panasonic P51 runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and is powered by a 1.2 GHz Mediatek MT6589 quad core chip, which is used in Micromax Canvas HD and many other low cost quad core phones. Panasonic though has not tinkered with the stock Android user interface, which is quite popular.
Like most mid-range smartphones from Indian players, P51 too has 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB internal storage. Internal memory can be expanded up to 32 GB using a micro SD card.
I would have loved it if the device had had additional internal memory or a bundled micro SD card because the current 2 GB seems too low for a Rs 22,000+ phone. One may feel frustrated because lack of space may prompt messages asking to free up some space to continue downloading.
If we look at other smartphones priced at around Rs 24,000 like Samsung Galaxy SIII, we find internal memory and processor speed to be inferior in the P51.
Surfing, using cellular data connectivity and syncing the smartphone are very smooth and fast. If you love playing Fruit Ninja, Subway Surfer or Temple Run you will be satisfied with the performance, but when you use the device for playing high end graphic intensive games like Real Racing 3 or Mortal Combat you will encounter some lag.
The Panasonic P51 is powered by a huge 2500 mAh battery. To our surprise, we got one and a half days ( 1day, 16 hours) of power backup on a single recharge.
In the said period I used the phone keeping 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth on. Apart from that, mail and contact syncs were also active. I used the phone to browse the web for around 45 minutes, played games for about 30 minutes, made calls for around 1 hour and listened to music for about 40 minutes.
In short I can say if you’re looking for an Android smartphone with good battery backup Panasonic P51 is a device you could check out.
Images by Sushil Kumar