Panasonic is not usually a name that we associate with smartphones, especially here in the US. However, today the large consumer electronics company expressed their interest in getting into the mobile space, much like ZTE a few days ago.
Unlike ZTE, Panasonic already has a prototype of next year's hardware to show off. Their concept has a fairly standard 4.3-inch qHD OLED display and NFC, but more interesting is the fact that the device is both waterproof and dustproof. Even with this added ruggedness, it manages to look very nice and slim, at least in these images.
The choice of OS was not specified, but you can see what very clearly looks like Android 2.3 Gingerbread in the photo above. This will probably still be the case when the phones launch in Europe this spring, but perhaps the devices will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich when the launch in the US later in 2012.
Panasonic specifically said they would be targeting businesspeople in their 30s and 40s with the smartphones, but they look nice enough to me to get some mass market love. Provided the specifications are up to par, we may soon see the entrance and growth of a new handset maker in the market.[The Verge]