Panasonic cell phones may not be the first mobile phones to come to mind when you're hunting for the latest handset, but the electronics giant certainly has a few notable offerings that are worth considering. Sure, they don't produce the same kind of volume and variety as the bigger boys in the industry -- like Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung -- but with decent cameras, unique designs, and a certain air of exclusivity because of their relative rarity, Panasonic cell phones are well worth your attention.
Panasonic Cell Phones
Panasonic is the brand name used by Matsushita Electric Co., Ltd. of Japan. In addition to Panasonic cell phones, the prominent manufacturer also produces a wide range of mobile and home electronics, including televisions, digital cameras, laptop computers, and DVD players.
Compared to some of the other cell phone makers in the industry, Panasonic does not make as many different models. In the past year or two, they have only created about a dozen new phones, whereas Nokia and Motorola have made many more. A big part of this is that Panasonic has a huge focus on the GSM side of the market, largely neglecting CDMA-based networks. In this way, Panasonic cell phones are more readily found in their home Japan, as well as certain areas of Europe.
Just like other mobile phone companies, Panasonic differentiates their products by a number of "lines" or "series." The two best known are the VS and the X series.
VS Series Flip Phones
This entire line of Panasonic cell phones looks very similar. They are all flip phones with rather squared-off features rather than rounder, more bulbous shapes. Moreover, the external display is either fairly small or non-existent. Lastly, all of the phones in this series prominently feature their cameras on the front face, near the top, right next to the phone's hinge. In this way, a large focus of the VS line is picture taking.
An interesting side note is that the VS line started with the VS2, rather than the VS1. In fact, the VS1 doesn't exist at all! No reason was really ever given, but it's possible that Panasonic wanted to avoid any confusion with the Sagem VS1.
- The VS2 lacks an external display, but it does have an "incoming call LED" on the front fascia. Moreover, the front cover is available in three different colors: pink, copper, and brown. The 1.3 megapixel camera is capable of taking videos, and the phone can play both polyphonic and MP3 ringtones. It is a tri-band (900/1800/1900 MHz) phone, meaning that it will not operate in certain parts of North America (and with certain service providers) that rely solely on the 850MHz band.
- The VS7 is the most recent addition to the Panasonic VS series of cell phones. It features a 96 x 64 pixel external CSTN display, 30MB of internal memory, polyphonic and MP3 ringtones, and Bluetooth 1.2. Moreover, the camera is a very nice 2.0 megapixel unit, and they've included a couple of games in the package too (Sonic the Hedgehog and Soccer). It is also a 900/1800/1900 tri-band phone.
X Line Fashion Cell Phones
For a bolder take on the mobile phone industry, have a look at the X series from Panasonic. Here are a couple of offerings that feature something a little different from many of their competitors.
- The X300 is perhaps most notable for its pop-up screen. It can swivel to the right to help you take pictures around corners and other fun activities. It is a shame that the on-board camera is only VGA (0.3 megapixels, 640 x 480 pixels). Other key features include a miniscule 3MB of internal memory, polyphonic ringtones, and an on-board picture editor. Originally announced in Q1 2004, the Panasonic X300 is available in silver, red, or gold.
- Bold designs feature most prominently on the Panasonic X800. Instead of just simple solid colors, the front cover is available with historic Japanese art and other interesting looks. Enjoy a wide range of "X-changeable covers." As far as features are concerned, there are downloadable logos, Office applications, a currency converter, VGA camera with video and flash, fun Cell Phone Games, Bluetooth 1.1, and a miniSD memory card expansion slot.
Other Panasonic Cell Phones
Among the other cell phones in Panasonic's line-up are quite a few other interesting devices. It doesn't get much smaller than the A100 series, for example. Unfortunately for North Americans, the vast majority of their handsets are tri-band GSM, missing the incredible useful 850MHz band that is particularly necessary in areas with poor reception (valleys, dense metropolitan areas, etc.).