MWC 2014: Panasonic is back, but don't call the ToughPad FZ-E1 a smartphone

MWC 2014: Panasonic is back, but don't call the ToughPad FZ-E1 a smartphonePanasonic's foray into smartphones a couple of years ago with the horribly named Eluga may have ended in failure, but as expected, it's decided to have another go and has announced a rugged 5in ToughPad at MWC 2014.

Or has it? You see, while a 5in device that can make calls is a phone to you and me, Panasonic insists the hardbodied duo are in fact small tablets.

That's why the name is ToughPad rather than ToughPhone, we presume, but whichever way you slice it, the ToughPad FZ-E1 is one tough cookie.

That much is clear just by looking at it. Simply put, it's huge. Measuring 31mm thick and weighing in at 430g, this is surely the chunkiest phablet in history.

But there's good reason: it's rated IP65 and IP58 weather proofed, which covers dust and water – up to 1.5m of water for 30 minutes, to be specific. It's also MIL-STD 810G compliant, and can survive a drop of up to 3m without complaining.

The 5in display has a resolution of 720p, with a brightness of up to 500cd/m2 to keep the screen visible in direct sunlight.

On the inside is a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, along with 8MP/1.3MP cameras, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The battery is a massive 6200mAh unit, which should be good for 14 hours of talk time and 1000 hours on standby.

Interestingly, Panasonic has gone for the yet-to-be-released Windows Embedded 8 Handheld as the OS – though it'll be skinned to look a lot like Windows Phone 8.

There'll also be an Android 4.2 Jelly Bean version (the ToughPad FZ-X1), which will run a 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor instead. Either way, you'll benefit from FIPS 140-2 Level 2 encryption.

Panasonic says the ToughPad FZ-E1 will go on sale in June, initially in Japan and then to other markets including the UK. The Android-based ToughPad FZ-X1, meanwhile, will only see the light of day in August.

In all, the pair look set to raise the bar for rugged smartpho... sorry, tablets, with Panasonic's history with the ToughBook laptop range likely to ensure plenty of interest. In fact, it should probably have gone this way all along and scrapped the Eluga project as a bad idea.

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