Panasonic P51 Review

Entering the Indian smartphone market is not an easy proposition. The market is flooded with a number of local vendors who are blooming thanks to the market for low-cost Android smartphones, and the high-end is dominated by Samsung and Apple, while Nokia and BlackBerry make do with the left overs. Panasonic at one time used to compete in the feature phone market in the mid-2000s, but it was not able to compete against the might of Nokia. Fast forward eight years, the Japanese giant is back and this time around it has outsourced production of its phones so that a more localized product is created for the price sensitive Indian market. The Panasonic P51 is synthesis of this dream. If this works out well in India, then Panasonic will replicate this strategy in other emerging markets. Read on to find out if the Panasonic P51 has what it takes to succeed in the Indian market.


Design

These days with full touch screen smartphones there isn’t a lot of room for innovation in terms of design. The Panasonic P51 is no stranger to that. It offers more of the same. A full glass front and plastic back seems like a standard affair these days and the P51 delivers exactly that. That being said, one must commend the company for upping the ante in terms of build quality. The P51 feels like a high-end smartphone with good quality plastic unlike Samsung’s Galaxy range of smartphones.

The Panasonic P51 has a unibody design which means users cannot replace the battery and the entire assembly is an integrated unit. On the back, Panasonic uses a matte plastic finish that feels very nice to hold and is quite similar to the HTC Butterfly. It’s slightly rubberized, but a nice thing to have rather than the slimy gloss of cheap plastic. The biggest disadvantage of this finish is that it gets smudged very easily.

The back also houses the 8-megapixel camera, the LED flash and the speaker grill. The camera module protrudes beyond the frame of the smartphone like a periscope of sorts, which also results in the phone struggling to lay flat on a surface while resting on its back.

The P51 is incredibly slender at 8.5mm and weighs just 135 grams, so it is also quite light to hold. Due to its large footprint it feels a little too thin at times, but should not be a deal breaker for anyone. On the right hand side one will find the microSD card slot and slightly above it on the top right hand corner, one will find the volume rocker keys.

The top right corner from above the display houses the power button. We did not like the placement of the button as it is almost impossible to reach with a single stretch and involves repositioning the device in one’s hand. We dropped the phone twice while attempting to do so. The top is also home to the 3.5mm jack.

On the left, Panasonic has added the twin micro-SIM slots. Interestingly, it’s the first dual-SIM phone on the market to feature a micro-SIM slot instead of a mini-SIM slot. Both the SIM slots are covered with a plastic door. We found the door to be finicky and we think it could fall off pretty quickly, after some extended use. The left is also home to the micro-USB slot.

The front is home to a glorious 5-inch 720p IPS display. Above the display one will find the front facing camera, the ear piece and the standard array of sensors. There are no capacitive buttons as Panasonic utilizes on screen controls. This was indeed a nice touch and we hope more OEMs will follow suit.

Generally, we found the Panasonic P51 to be an extremely well built smartphone. We liked the way it looked, some would even call it handsome, but its flaws were mainly ergonomic, as the button placement was not ideal and could have been better.

Hardware

As a first attempt, the Panasonic P51 really impressed with its industrial design, but it disappoints us with its hardware. Long story short, a phone that costs Rs 26,900 should not be powered by a processor that is used in sub-Rs 15,000 phones. We are talking about the quad-core MediaTek MT6589 chips that is clocked at 1.2GHz. Obviously, the user experience is what matters, but because of the underpowered chipset the performance suffers. We will further elaborate on this in the performance section.

Additionally, there is 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, which is also little stingy for a phone that costs so much. Thankfully, there is a microSD card slot, so one can expand their storage by up to 32GB. That said, this still is unacceptable because the P51 in price segment competes with stalwarts like the Galaxy S III which packs in more memory and a processor that’s probably twice as fast.

As we mentioned before it has an 8-megapixel camera and a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera, which on paper is par for the course. Unlike the memory, Panasonic is not short changing the consumer in terms of battery as the device comes with a mammoth 2,500-mAh battery.

But the star of the show is the 5-inch IPS display that is reinforced with Asahi Dragon Trail glass. It is just magnificent. It delivers stunning viewing angles, deep blacks and natural colors that are vivid yet don’t pop out with oversaturation something we associate with Super AMOLED displays like on the Galaxy S III. We found the color palette of the P51 to be on the cooler side and it had a minute blue hue to it when we opened screens that were dead white.

Even legibility in direct sunlight was decent and the display was brilliant for both watching videos, viewing images or reading text. We believe it to be one of the best 5-inch 720p displays in the market which is a class above the likes of the Micromax Canvas HD. Actually, we’d say it’s even better than the Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy S III which does have a green hue too it because of its Pentile pixel arrangement and the colors feel a little unnatural.

Additionally, Panasonic also throws in a free stylus and a flip magnetic flip cover with the product. Our review unit did not have the stylus though had the flip cover.

Software

One of the best things about the Panasonic P51 is that it runs on the latest version of Android. It runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, so users get access to things like lockscreen widgets and toggle switches various settings via the pull down menu.

It is also running on a rather stock version of Android and feels quite unadulterated. Unfortunately, Panasonic felt the need to customize the icons and animations. Our biggest quibble is with the animations as Panasonic has replaced the default Android animations with something that gives the illusion of lag. The transition is a little abrupt, and it’s just not smooth. It’s actually quite similar to what Samsung implements on TouchWiz app drawer.

Panasonic has also preloaded a number of applications on the device. Some would call these apps bloatware, but a lot of these apps are quite useful, though the average user can also download them for free via the Google Play store. The device comes preloaded with CamCard, the Economic Times, Evernote, CamScanner, Kingsoft Office, and WeChat, to name a few.

The problem is that because Panasonic has been so stingy with the onboard memory, all these preloaded apps just leave the user with around 1.6GB of available memory. This is almost sacrilege in this day and age.

Unlike some modern smartphones like the Galaxy S4, the Panasonic P51 also comes with a built-in FM Radio something which Indian consumers like.

Performance

At first brush the Panasonic P51 seems to be a perfectly fine smartphone. The performance is smooth, and while the animations in the device give the illusion of a discernable lag, the real world performance of the device is very good for day-to-day use.

But because the phone runs on the MediaTek MT66589 chip which is basically a quad-core ARM Cortex A7 based CPU with cores clocked at 1.2GHz, there are limitations and for a phone that costs in excess of Rs 25,000 this is unacceptable. It also has 1GB of RAM, but that does not help offsetting the limitations of SoC.

In terms of synthetic benchmarks, The Panasonic P51 performs slightly better than the Micromax Canvas HD, but it pales in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S III that is powered by the powerful Exynos 4412 chipset.

Graphically too the performance is behind the curve when compared to devices running more sophisticated quad-core ARM Cortex A9 based devices. Yes, if one is interested in playing games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja then one will be hard pressed to find a gulf in performance, but the moment we talk about graphically intensive games like Real Racing 3 things turn sour. Firstly, installing the game itself was a painful process because we were first asked to free up some memory, but then when we managed to do that there was a solid gulf in graphical chops.

The camera performance was a mixed bag of sorts. While it locked focus very quickly, we found out that phones like the Galaxy S III had a wider lens. Images captured in well-lit conditions came out well, but in low-light like most smartphone cameras, the images were riddled with graining issues. Performance while shooting videos was solid. We’d say that it was a notch above the Micromax Canvas HD but again was not comparable to the Galaxy S III or the HTC One X.

Panasonic packs in a 2,500-mAh battery in P51 and the phone easily lasted beyond a day on a single charge while we ran the phone on 3G networks. We’d benchmark the battery life to be between 27-29 hours in a week of testing the device. Our testing involved about 2 hours of calls on a daily basis, an hour of web browsing, constant updating of social networks, a bit of photography, streaming music while Google Play music for about 45 mins and a bit of photography (5-7 pictures per day).

Call quality seemed alright, while it was not the best in areas like a basement, it was par for the course. If we had to compare, we could say it was as good as the LG Optimus G.

Verdict

For a phone that costs Rs 26,900, the Panasonic P51 offers a great screen, a slim and sexy chassis, great build quality, solid battery life and runs on the latest version of Android. It falls short in terms of pure performance and offers stingy amount of internal memory, which means it’s hard to recommend over luminaries like the Galaxy S III, which offers more or less of the above with a much more powerful chipset, and a better camera, for about the same price.

We have heard reports that Panasonic now sells the P51 for Rs 22,390 after it faced a negative reaction from the press regarding the launch of the phone. However, this still does not absolve the device of its performance limitations as the Micromax Canvas HD basically offers the exact feature set for Rs 14,990. That said, we do believe that the Panasonic P51 has a much better display and build than the Canvas HD.

It is difficult to recommend the P51 considering one can get a better pedigree device like the Galaxy S III for slightly more and get much better camera, processor and internal storage. On the flip side, one can get the Micromax Canvas HD for far cheaper and get similar hardware. Having said that, the Panasonic P51 could make a compelling case if it is priced south of Rs 20,000.

Photographs: Sawani Kumar and Namrata Juneja

  • Kriti desai

    I am looking for phones that come with both style and functionality and I think I will find it in the new phone that Panasonic is going to release in the Indian market soon. The phone has a stylish fliptop, which I find visually appealing. It has also a Jellybean 4.2 operating system and a quadcore processor that is capable of handling multiple applications at once. Can’t wait to buy this phone!

  • Simran pawa

    I’ve checked P51 in the internet and I’ll say that this phone is perfect! The phone has a quadcore processor, along with a Jellybean 4.2 processor. With this phone I will be able to multitask without dealing with performance issues! Furthermore, the phone looks visually fantastic! It has a stylish magnetic fliptop and scratchproof glass that is very appealing to me!

  • Jenni

    All I want for a phone is to have a decent camera, and I think I will find it in P51. The phone has a camera that comes along with excellent features like multi-angle view, autocapture, as well as video capture. The phone has also Wi-Fi that will allow me to connect to the internet wherever I go. I am excited to buy this phone.

  • Janvi Pratap

    I am fond of listening to music through my phone, but sometimes the audio is not very satisfactory. When I read the specs of P51, I’ve made up my mind that I am going to buy this phone. This phone has an audio enhancer that will give me a great experience listening to my favorite music! I will buy it for sure!

  • Nagesh Mathur

    I am looking for a stylish phone and I think I have found it in Panasonic’s P51. The phone has amazing specs, like a quadcore processor that makes it capable of handling multiple programs at the same time. The phone also comes with useful features like a camera and high resolution screen. I will definitely buy this phone

  • Nirmal Sandhu

    Listen to music on the cell phone while walking or travelling gives you the best feeling. And if it’s a phone which has best audio enhancer and 2500 mAH battery with 23 hours talk time, I think you can have a very fun time with this phone.

  • Rishikesh more

    The P51 Smart phone of Panasonichas best audio enhancer to give better quality for earphone and a stylus to make the usage easier. I found features very user friendly and quite up to date. One can easily adapt to it without any difficulty. I’m going to ask my dad for this phone for my birthday.

  • Amit Rawat

    The P51 Smart phone has 42 Mbps high speed download; best suited for the people who used a lot of internet and make download. Not only good download but also the jellybean OS to support your files and play games. I’m sure you don’t want to miss it.

  • Aksha Seth

    Have you seen a smart phone that captures a picture on smile detection! Well, yeah this is different. The P51 smart phone is unique and something you can show off to your friends. Dual SIM and the good looking uniboyd design with light weight of 135gm is drooling. So start making your savings for this phone.

  • Prachi Agnihotri

    Gadgets don’t easily impress me. I’m a hardcore technology critic and I’ve seen and experienced almost everything. But what I didn’t foresee was the P51and its outstanding features. It has a quad core processor and a 5 inch IPS screen that has a whopping HD resolution of 1280 x 720. That’s something. It also has a stylus to give you that corporate touch. I’m definitely looking out for this phone!

  • Jiya kausik

    I’m a social butterfly and I love staying in touch with my friends and family. Whether on the go or while shopping, I’m always on my phone which is why a good internet data connection is very important for me. I read about the P51 online and learned that it has a 42Mbps High Speed Download. I can just hear my Whatsapp, Viber and Facebook jumping with joy.

  • rohit sherawat

    Ever heard about a phone that has an 8 MP camera with features such as Multi Angle view image, Auto Capture on Smile detection, Video Capture effects and Face beautification? Me neither. But that’s exactly what the P51 brings to you. These features combined with the best audio enhancer to give better audio quality for earphone are incredible. It is one phone that will never bore you and one that’ll make you become the envy of the whole town.

  • Tejaswi Singh

    Think of capturing the moments your loved one smile and cherish them throughout your life. P51 brings you the new experience of auto capture on smile detection with its 8 MP AF camera. Now you don’t have to ask them to smile, since your phone can do all the work for you. I’ve become a fan of this phone altering learning about this matchless feature.

  • Narayan k

    I am so excited about the new launch of the Panasonic P51. The manufacturers say that it comes with a quad core processor along with the latest Android 4.2 (jellybean) version OS out of the box.. It’s the best I have seen.

  • Parul Sharma

    I am so eager and excited. I think this is just going to be the best launch ever into the Indian market this year. The new Panasonic P51 has very unique features such as the dual SIM along with the magnetic flip cover it comes along with. I must get one.

  • Renu Wadhwan

    I always use my phone to do my data processing work at home. I recently heard about the new Panasonic P51 that is soon going to be launched. I hear it comes with the latest android 4.2 (jellybean) version OS along with the quad core processor.

  • Mahesh Deshmukh

    It’s the kind of Phone that I have always imagined to have, the Panasonic p51. It’s equipped with the Best Audio Enhancer to give better audio quality for earphone, a WI-Fi Display over DLNA, with a good internet speed, the HSPA+ with 42Mbps High Speed Download makes it superior among its category. I am so eager I must get. I just love it.

  • Sandeep Kaul

    Panasonic should sack its PR team for such a blatant attempt at hijacking the comments section. Do they think that customers are duffers not to see through all the gushing acclaim being dished out below?

    • Sandeep Kaul

      Do they think that customers are duffers not to see through all the gushing acclaim being dished out *below*? Read that as *above*.

  • Aditya Singh

    With Display 5 inch IPS screen with HD (1280×720) resolution the new Panasonic P51 is being launched, it is the kind of handset that I’ve always dreamt to have. The Android 4.2 (Jellybean) OS Version out of the box which it is promising with a dual SIM makes me excited and I buy this phone soon.

  • Swati Nair

    The features it’s promising are far superior to fans of its category, WI-Fi Display over DLNA, HSPA+ with 42Mbps High Speed Download with 8MP AF Camera with features like: Multi Angle view image, Auto Capture on Smile detection, Video Capture effects and Face beautification. It is the best!

  • Vijay Gupta

    For the people who prefer to perform and do it with style the Panasonic smartphone P51 is an option they can’t afford to overlook. It has a 5-inch IPS touch screen with HD resolution offering better video and photo-viewing. The resolution is best in class. The cameras provided are an 8 MP rear camera for crisp and clear photographs and videos and a 1.3 MP front camera for video calling which is more than adequate for a smartphone of this range.

  • Monica

    The search for a stylish smartphone/ tablet may end if one looks at the Panasonic P51. Light Weight, Thin body, Unibody design, Magnetic Flip cover & Stylus are for aesthetics aware and stylish users. Also the phone offers a 20 Hour talk time over 2G along with some gaming and video viewing and even supports 3G which is a must for seamless video calling.

  • Harsha Deshmukh

    A new horse in the race of tablets has been entered by the electronics company Panasonic. Its name is P51. It consists of some exciting features which include out of the box Android Jelly Bean 4.2 (the latest), a stylish magnetic flip cover, a more than handy stylus and is the slimmest tablet till now, also being one of the lightest.

  • ArunKR

    It looks exactly like Alcatel one touch scribe HD
    check it out @ http://www.alcatelonetouchscribehd.com/

  • Ranvir Singh

    I always expect good performance from any device I bought this Phone last week and it’s amazing, this sleek device comes with Android 4.2 OS, that’s the best in its class. It also suits me well because it’s a dual SIM Phone, so I know I will always be on at atleast two networks at the same time.

  • Kavery dixit

    This device is stylish and comes with a strong magnetic flip cover to ensure it is well protected. I am just so eager to get my hands on this sleek and stylish device.

  • Ritesh Solanki

    It has Best Audio Enhancer to give better audio quality for earphone combined with WI-Fi Display over DLNA it also promising a good internet speed because it has HSPA+ with 42Mbps High Speed Download. This is Nice Product with full of features.

  • Diksha Sinha

    P51 has nice features which are not found in others of its category, with Best Audio Enhancer to give better audio quality for earphone combining with HSPA+ with 42Mbps High Speed Download and a display 5 inch IPs screen with HD (1280×270) resolution I bought one for my husband.

    • mohanraj

      please tell me the price of the mobile

  • Rituja Tiwari

    P51 has wonderful features Display 5 inch IPS screen with HD (1280×720) resolution which it combines with 2500 mAh battery with 23 hours of talk time. It has Good Looking Unibody design with light weight (135gm). I will surely get this one.

  • Madhuri paul

    Android Jelly Bean 4.2 (the latest in the Android series), scratch resistant Asahi Dragontrail glass, a super fast Quad core processor and a sleek build make the new Panasonic smartphone/tablet, the P51 a one of its kind device with higher efficiency than any other device in the same range. Anyone looking to get a new smart device must have a look into this tablet as it can be a viable option.

  • Hetal desai

    A mobile which has the thickness of 8.5 mm, the weight of 135 gms and a HD resolution of 1280*720 pixels and a 5-inch screen all features best in class has been launched by the company Panasonic. The phone is named P51 and comes with a stylus which no other device of this range provides making it a unique device.

  • Navika Panday

    The new Panasonic P51 has been designed specifically keeping in mind its Indian users to have the facilities of Dual SIM, large battery of 2500 mAh and scratch proof glass. The glass is manufactured by the company Asahi Dragontrail. It also supports the Android Jelly Bean version 4.2 which is the latest to be introduced into the Android Operating Systems making the device all better.

  • Vidya Sharma

    The search for a stylish smartphone/ tablet may end if one looks at the Panasonic P51. Light Weight, Thin body, Unibody design, Magnetic Flip cover & Stylus are for aesthetics aware and stylish users. Also the phone offers a 20 Hour talk time over 2G along with some gaming and video viewing and even supports 3G which is a must for seamless video calling.

  • Kishor kumar

    A downloading high speed of 42 Mbps using HSPDA+, HD streaming to TV using DLNA, a 1.2 GHz Media Tek MT6589 Quad Core processor makes the user of the Panasonic P51 smartphone/ tablet a happy video viewer. The 5-inch screen is full HD with a resolution of 1280*720 pixels adding to the video viewing experience. If you are looking for a high end tablet with enhanced video-viewing, this is your phone.

  • Vijay Sharma

    The newly launched phone from Panasonic, the P51 smartphone is a fresh choice in the tablet category with a rear camera of 8 MP and front camera of 1.3 MP. The rear camera offers options like Multi Angle View used for 3D photography and panaroma styled photos, Auto Capture with Smile which is very useful for capturing expressions and the Beautification feature which lets you edit the photograph with options like adjust skin tone and whiten teeth for better photos.

  • Ekta Singh

    Best Audio Enhancer “BesAudEnh”, which can give you better audio quality for earphone is a new feature added in the new smartphone belonging in the tablet category, the P51. It comes from the creative labs of the company Panasonic who have created a stylish but a highly performing smartphone. It consists of a big touch screen (5-inch), a powerful download speed (42 Mbps), a Dual SIM and a 1.2 GHz Quad core processor.

  • Rohini Dhaiya

    In this vivid era of smartphones I think that Panasonic P51 has absolutely set its own benchmark. With a best in class 5inch HD display and a resolution of 1280 x 720, I believe is going to be in a cut to cut competition with the other smartphone tycoons.

  • Annu Tiwari

    Panasonic P51 is the thinnest of them all! A stylish sleek body and a magnetic flip cover along with a stylus have made the smartphone look super cool and classy. I cannot wait to lay my hands on this beauty with best in class looks. It’s truly a device for people who are aesthetically aware and who want to be in style.

  • http://gmail sunil

    Micromax same futures rs 14000 canvas hd.karbonn same futures rs12000 s5. then y u guys want to buy a costly product with same future of a cheap product .i really dont know y indians dont like indian product