Panasonic is branching out from its ruggedized computer and tablet roots, announcing a pair of new smartphones on Monday at Mobile World Congress.
The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-F1 and FZ-N1 are both designed to give users a handheld computer that can take a beating, when their job requires it. Panasonic calls the them "handheld tablets," but the cellular connection and the dimensions of the devices puts them into what most people would consider the smartphone category.
The F1 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, but the N1 runs Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise, a version of Microsoft’s operating system that’s designed to bring the capabilities of Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise to more specialized line-of-business devices like Panasonic's smartphone.
Both phones sport a 4.7-inch, 720p display, which is the same physical size as the iPhone 6 and other popular smartphones (though significantly lower resolution). The phones each sport 2GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage, along with a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Those specifications won't win any awards, but these devices aren’t designed to be consumer-use phones.
Like Panasonic's other ruggedized devices, these phones are designed to stand up to a lot of hazards that users could throw at them. They're rated to be drop-proof for falls from up to six feet. The phones also meet the requirements for IP65 and IP67, meaning that they're sealed against dust and fully submersible.
The phones also sport a built-in barcode reader, which means that companies don't have to shell out extra for a case that provides that feature.
Realistically, these are going to be the sort of phones that companies only invest in purchasing for employees who will benefit from their ruggedness, since they’ll cost a pretty penny. The F1 will launch first as a handheld tablet without cellular capabilities in March for the eye-popping price of $1,499. A cellular model will follow during the fall.
The Windows 10-equipped N1 will be available this fall in both Wi-Fi and cellular variants, with an estimated street price of $1,599.