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Panasonic P51: It's good, but is it good enough?

Yes, the Panasonic P51 is a large-ish phone to hold, and that is evident from the moment you fish it out of the box. The blame cannot squarely be put at the door of the 5-inch display, but its thick bezel — the Samsung Galaxy S4, for e.g., has a same display size as the P51 but due to its significantly thin bezel, the S4 feels smaller and more compact in comparison. Despite the thick bezels, the Panasonic P51 still is very much pocketable and partly manageable with single hand use, and its slimness is its saving grace. Built well, the non-slippery finish on the battery cover helps with the grip of the phone. It comes with two colour options — the white one has an enamel finish while the dark option gets the soft feel finish back. The battery itself is sealed away, and all slots are on the spines — two SIM slots and the memory card slot. This is also the first dual-SIM phone with micro SIM slots.

The 5-inch IPS LCD display has a native resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. Text isn’t as crisp as we had expected it to be, but colour richness is very good. The display handles HD videos fairly well, with good viewing angles. The display has the DragonTrail scratchproof glass layer, sporting same characteristics as the much more popular variants of Gorilla Glass. Panasonic hasn’t messed around too much with the Android Jelly Bean UI, except a few custom icons. The skin, unlike Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense, is fairly minimal. We appreciate this aspect, because quite honestly, UI skins do hamper performance to a certain extent. The specifications are fairly standard for a phone that costs this much, and the performance is acceptable, too. Open a bunch of Social Networking and IM apps in the background, and the P51 goes along merrily without slowing down. The camera is usable for shots taken in good light, but low light shots are disappointing. On the P51, one SIM slot handles 3G connectivity, while the other is restricted to just 2G networks. Call quality is indeed very good, on both SIMs. Battery life, at medium usage, will get you through a day easily. However, for those You Tube or gaming sessions, drain will be quite quick.

The good thing is, the P51 doesn’t heat up when really stressed, something that even a lot more expensive smartphones cannot boast of!
The P51, for all its promising points, is Panasonic’s first serious attempt at a smartphone. And we really don’t know how often software and OS updates will come along, and any performance issues or bugs will be ironed out. Which is why, the tried and tested ecosystem of Samsung makes us recommend the Galaxy Grand as a phone to consider at this price. 

Price: R 21, 500
Specs:
Processor: MediaTek MT6589 quad core @ 1.2GHz
RAM: 1GB
Storage: 4GB internal + microSD slot
Display: 5-inch IPS LCD (1280 x 720 pixels)
Camera: 8MP
Battery: 2500 mAh
OS: Android 4.2
Pros:
Simple and elegant looks
Minimal tweaks to Android’s interface
Stable performance
Cons:
Limited internal storage
Competing with more established rivals

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