Reuters announced the launch with this:
Japanese electronics supplier Panasonic Corp said it will make a partial return to the smartphone market with two high-cost models, marketed at business customers as counterparts to its hard-wearing Toughbook laptops and Toughpad tablets.
The handsets, now on display at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, extend Panasonic's shift toward corporate clients rather than retail consumers. Squeezed by weak sales of consumer electronics like TVs, the company lost $15 billion over two years before embarking on a restructuring that should see it return to profit this fiscal year.
Having pulled out of the consumer smartphone business last year, Panasonic said on Monday it is aiming to make 40,000 Toughpad handsets per year. They will first be available in Japan with a price tag of about 130,000 yen ($1,300), before being rolled out to Europe and the United States.
With a five-inch screen and three centimeters thick, the handsets are designed to match the Toughpad tablets for resilience. According to Panasonic, they can be dunked in water, withstand a fall of up to three meters and function in temperatures in a range from minus 20 degrees to 60 degrees celsius.
The company will release two versions of the handsets carrying the Toughpad brand, one running Microsoft's Windows Embedded 8 and the other running Google's Android operating system.
WPC fills in some other details:
The FZ-E1 isn’t going to win any awards in the consumer space, but again, that’s because this is geared towards enterprise scenarios. That said, you do get a 5-inch display with a 1280 x 720 resolution. It’s powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 800 at 2.3 GHz. Inside it has 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The rear camera is 8MP, while the front-facing camera is 1.3 MP. The battery capacity is 6,200 mAh. Talk about battery life. You also get Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/n/n/ac, micro USB port, GSP and NFC.
Don't get too excited - such toughened enterprise-only models have been a feature of the industry ever since the Psion Workabout models from the mid 1990s. They're technically interesting but the form factors are clumsy, by necessity, and the software usually customised and somewhat locked down.
Still, when you're courier drops something off and wants you to sign on what looks like a 5"-screened Windows Phone, that'll be because it's a Panasonic FZ-E1 (probably).