by July 14, 2014 0 comments

With the continuous advancement in smartphone technology, their prices are shrinking and screens are getting large. Panasonic is the latest in the race to offer a 5.5 inch phablet which is company’s flagship model. P81 is an attempt by the Japanese tech major in a market where it’s an herculean task for an entrant to mark its presence. We tested the device for a week to see what Panasonic has to offer in the category which is dominated by biggies like Samsung, HTC and LG.

What’s different in P81?
In the race to offer something new that excites customers to buy the product, manufacturers have to come up with new stuff regularly. Panasonic has integrated Gesture play on P81 that enables you to set commands to unlock the phone or open any application on device from the lock-screen itself. I tried more than 15 gestures and all worked well. You can set as much as you can. There is an inbuilt call recorder, a dual window operation mode that utilises phone’s 5.5 inch screen efficiently, a Pop-i-Player that lets you watch videos while performing other tasks on the phone. A battery saving mode that is quite efficient.

Panasonic is also offering several freebies with the P81 that adds value to the overall experience. A three-month subscription of digital magazines from India Today for news junkies, Evernote’s six-month premium account and magazines and comics worth Rs 5,000 via the Readwhere app. Music lovers can also download 30 days unlimited music from the Hungama app.

Can P81 hold your attention with its HD display?
A phablet is identified by its display and should have a screen that can give a rich multimedia experience. Panasonic P81 has a 720×1280 HD IPS panel (with minimal bezel) that accounts to 267 ppi. Sadly its not Full HD, something that is expected at a price-point P81 comes with. But this does not mean P81 is a faliure in display quality. The screen is sharp enough to watch HD videos, play 3D games and web-browsing. I liked the colour reproduction on P81 display, its not over saturated and offers good viewing angles.

How does it feel in hands?
Clad in glossy plastic at front, P81 feels just like any other plastic phone in the market. However its faux leather touch back panel adds an element of style and also helps to hide the inevitable fingerprint. It also gives phone that extra grip. The sides have a chrome finish with volume buttons on left and power button on right. Despite a 5.5 inch dislay, Panasonic manages to give P81 a slim profile with just 7.9 mm thickness. I am not a fan of big screen phones still I can say P81 is manageable and fits well in hands.

How does it perform?
Panasonic has played the game by integrating an octa-core Mediatek MT6592 chipset clocked at 1.7 GHz in P81. It is a true octa-core which means all the eight cores are dedicated to the single task you perform. To test it to its limits, I played two of the most graphical intense games(Asphalt 8 & Real racing 3) and phone performed really well. Web browsing and all other tasks goes without any lags. The 13 MP rear shooter on P81 give good sharp pictures in day-light but it fails to impress in low-light conditions.The phone also has HDR ,GIF and Panorama in which HDR seems not so effective. However 1080P Video shot by P81 was impressive.

The area where P81 start losing the fight is software experience and multitasking. It runs on Android 4.2 Jellybean that is certainly not the flavour of the season as many low-range phones are offering Android 4.4 Kitkat out of the box. Its 1 GB RAM feels inadequate for a true multitasking experience as it lags when you shift continuously from one app to another. Panasonic has added its Play Life interface over Android jellybean which has a plethora of customisations. You can change fonts, themes, screen effects, colour of default apps and what not. However all of this makes the overall user experience a bit clumsy. The UI lacks smoothness and there is no transitions while shifting from one screen to another. Panasonic should provide an update to refine its Play Life UI on P81 but that’s quite unexpected.

At this price point a 1 GB RAM and an older version of Android certainly does not match other specifications that P81 has. Panasonic P81 packs 8 GB of on-board storage space that is expandable up to 32 GB via micro SD card. The in-ear headphones with P81 are mediocre quality that lacks bass however rear speaker delivers good sound.The 2500 mAh battery on P81 gave us a 4 hours 35 minute video playback at full brightness on Wi-Fi. So you can get a minimum of 13 hours backup on a single charge.

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