Panasonic reveals thin, waterproof mobile phone for re-entry into European market

The company's ELUGA phone will be its first international model since retreating back to Japan in 2005

Panasonic has revealed its first mobile handset for the international market since 2005, a sleek Android-powered smartphone that is dustproof and waterproof.

The company said its ELUGA phone, which will go on sale in Europe from April, is 7.8mm thick and weighs 103 grams. It is equipped with a touch card reader that can be used with public transport and e-money systems, as well as read special Panasonic cards that can be used to quickly change the phone's settings.

In December, Panasonic announced it would re-enter the international market, with the goal of eventually selling 9 million smartphones outside of Japan in the fiscal year through March 2016. The company exited the handset market outside of Japan in 2005 as sales suffered, but saw an opportunity to rejoin the fray in the exploding smartphone arena.

The Japanese tech giant and its domestic competitors are seeking relief from a largely saturated local market that is under pressure from large rivals like Apple and Samsung, as well as lower-cost Chinese competitors.

Panasonic's new phone also has an 8-megapixel camera, a 1GHZ dual core processor, and 1GB of RAM, plus a 4.3-inch OLED touchscreen and GPS. The company says it will provide four hours of continuous talking time, or five on standby.

ELUGA stands for Elegant User-Oriented Gateway.

The phone will ship with Android Gingerbread, version 2.3.5, and an update to Android Ice Cream Sandwich, or version 4, will be available in June.

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