Panasonic T21 Review: Half-baked Treat from Panasonic

After waiting for long, the Panasonic T21 finally arrived in my hands. Thanks to Panasonic for giving it at their earliest.

The device sports a 4.5 inch IPS display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 8MP rear camera along with a very thoughtfully designed back-panel. It reached the market with the price tag of INR 13,990 competing with the Lava Iris 504Q, Xolo Play & Samsung Galaxy Core.

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I had some good expectations from this phone. Let us go through the Panasonic T21 review if it fulfills my expectations.

Panasonic T21

Panasonic T21

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Pros and Cons

  • Back-panel Design
  • Good Performance

  • Camera Crashes
  • Buttons have Play

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What does the Retail Package come with?

  1. The Handset & 1700mAh Li-Po battery.
  2. USB Cable, USB charger, Headphones.
  3. Warranty Card & Quick Start Guide.

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User Experience

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i. Design: Good looking but not Sensible

First Impression: Slim, Shiny Edges, Attractive back-panel.

Panasonic T21 will not fail to impress you with its looks. It has chrome plated silver shiny bezel along the edges. When viewed from front, the device looks pitch black with a thin silver shining border.

Panasonic has taken much effort in designing the back panel with some good cuts around the camera & the lower back. It is glossy & will not take much fingerprints easily.

The back panel design is the best part in the phone.

Overall the phone is sturdy & will take some impacts without much damage to the phone. The device weighs 140grams with thickness just less than a centimetre.

The disappointing point about Panasonic T21 is the space left above & below the screen. The 4.5 inches display extends the overall device upto 5.81 inches diagonally.

T21 is outsized to its screen size.

Panasonic could have made the phone less outsized by utilising the space below the screen.

The device has 3 hardware buttons- Volume rocker & camera button on the left; power button on the top. But the buttons have too much play (buttons are loosely packed).

Power button is TINY & very FAR.

Power/Lock button is as little as the micro USB. It is placed close to USB port, on the opposite side (if you hold the phone in right hand), which makes it difficult to reach. When you plug in a charger into the micro USB port; it will be very difficult to locate the power button due to its close proximity.

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ii. User Interface: Stock

Panasonic T21 comes with the older Android 4.1.2 JellyBean out of the box. Interestingly, there is not much customisation done by the manufacturer to the device. You will feel like using any other Xolo, Lava, Karbonn or Micromax product.

[gard align="center"]

Lock Screen looks good.

The lock screen gives a 4-point shortcut to important apps like camera, messaging, etc. with a very good transition effect; but sadly, these shortcuts couldn’t be changed.

I really liked the screen-off animation in the device. It resembles one that we saw in Sony Xperia Tipo.

There is no customisation option for home screen. You cannot add more screens by using pinch to zoom (as pinch to zoom doesn’t work on home screen). There is no option to sort the main menu or to change its view.

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iii. Display: Wastage of Space

Panasonic T21 boasts a 4.5” IPS Display with a resolution of 1280×720 giving pixel density of 326.4ppi. The screen looks very small on the 5.81” giant.

The capacitive buttons are given on the screen instead of below the screen. This wastes approx 720×84 pixels of the screen.

The IPS screen shows natural colours & the light sensor can guide you for auto-brightness.

Single Handed Reach: At the risk of losing grip.

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iv. Typing:

Typing in portrait mode is difficult without Swipe feature. The inbuilt swipe feature works perfect with the device. It also pops up the word that is being currently being formed by the swipe input.

Landscape mode typing is easy. The dictionary also allows you to correct the misspelled word or add new word to dictionary directly from the keyboard.

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v. Browsing:

Panasonic T21 comes with stock Android browser as well as Chrome browser. It has basic features like multi-tabs, incognito mode, desktop site, etc. Pinch to zoom & double tap zoom works fine.

 

 

Camera: Crashed the Expectations

T21 features an 8MP front camera with LED flash capturing pictures with a resolution of 3264×2448 pixels. The camera is placed beautifully on the top of a horizontal convex cut. The Focus for the rear camera has a bunch of options like Auto, fixed, continuous & macro.

Camera button_Panasonic T21

Rear Camera

The zoom slider doesn’t show at what zoom levels you are. You can zoom upto 30% of the slider. Above that, it degrades the image quality. Pictures with max zoom are too much grainy & loss in colour reproduction.

There is no ZOOM-level indicator around the slider.

The HDR mode doesn’t seem to be working as it did not show any difference in the images clicked (check the samples below). The panorama will not detect the vertical motions which should help you in correcting if you move the device up or down.

Front Camera_Panasonic T21

Front Camera

The front camera is 2MP shooting images at 1600×1200 pixels. The camera quality would be sufficient for video calling, but don’t expect best quality photos if you want to click your pics for a new profile picture.

The camera crashes the phone.

The camera crashed 4 times while using it for half an hour. The crash shows some “CP Triggered Dump Start” which gives a Blue screen (reminds me of BSOD). The device restarts after a couple of minutes.

Dedicated camera button_Panasonic T21

Dedicated camera button

The 8MP camera records videos at 30fps with a resolution 640×480. It does not have pinch to zoom feature so you’ll have to get use to the sliding zoom (it is sometimes irritating to me). The video mode also does not support tap-to-focus from the user.

While recording video at night, using the LED flash, an interesting feature was observed. The flash is not white as you would expect. As you’ll start, the flash will throw yellowish light; which turns to white after sometime (roughly 15 seconds).

Panasonic tried to add some features to the camera but forgot the basic requirements to the user. Overall, the camera is very disappointing.

Camera start-up time~2 sec
Shutter Lag<<1 sec

Camera Samples:

Zoom Test:

Panorama Mode:

Panorama_Panasonic T21

Low-Light Camera Samples:

Macro Shot:

HDR & non-HDR Mode:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others:

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Multimedia:

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Speaker_Panasonic T21

Audio-

The audio output of Panasonic T21 is average. The ringtone is easily audible in semi-corded place. The speaker is placed at the bottom left side. The stock music player disappeared from this device. Panasonic gives Play Music as the only music player out of the box. So there is not much to talk about the music player.

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Video-

The video player supports upto 1080p videos without any lags; something that you’ll surely miss in Galaxy Core. The device couldn’t play 4k video.

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Gallery-

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Notification & Ringtone-

T21 has a notification LED in the front. It indicates missed calls, charging status, low battery, etc. Unfortunately, you cannot change its colour or customize it anymore.

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Hardware Performance: Satisfactory

Panasonic T21 sports Broadcom 28145 chipset having 1.2GHz dual-core processor coupled with VideoCore-IV GPU & 1GB RAM.

For such a processor backed phone, we expect no lags in performing basic functions in the phone. The phone performed as expected.

There were negligible lags while performing basic operations. The gameplay for Temple Run Oz or Subway Surfer did not show any lag. After exiting the game, I felt minor lag while showing up the UI.

The overall performance of the phone is as expected from a Rs. 13k+ phone.

Internal Storage: 3.8MB used & 1.58GB Free.

System Storage: 144MB used & 862 Free. 

RAM: 248MB used & 249MB Free (the remaining 512 MB RAM is dedicated to the GPU)

Restart Time: 38.88 seconds.

Pre-installed Apps & Games

Useful Apps: Voice Dialer.

Extra Apps: Chrome, ET, TOI, WeChat.

Games: No pre-installed games.

Voice Dialer App

Voice Dialer App

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Connectivity options

What it has-

  • 2G, 3G
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi with hotspot & Direct
  • GPS
  • USB 2.0
  • FM Radio

What it misses-

  • 4G
  • HDMI
  • NFC

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Battery:

T21 is packed with a 1700mAh Li-Ion battery. The phone did not get heated up while performing basic functions. But gameplay, browsing & camera usage rises the temperature around the camera area.

Panasonic T21 with Battery

Panasonic T21 with Battery

Results of our Tests-

1. Browsing Time:

Conditions- Wi-Fi On, Full brightness, Continuous browsing, Android Browsing.

Result- Charging from 80% to 20% will allow you Wi-Fi browsing for 124 minutes

Panasonic T21 Browsing Time

Panasonic T21 Browsing Time

 

Note: We have used extrapolation for the graphs using the results that we received.

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Final Verdict

Expected a Better Treat

Panasonic was in a hurry to launch the phone to the Indian markets. It has great work done on the back panel. But ergonomics aren’t taken care of.

The camera is rich in features, but lacks user-friendliness. The hardware buttons wobble. The product just seems to be unfinished (half-baked).

{The camera crashing issue might be solved in software updates.}

The performance of the device is upto the mark. Some more customization options in the User Interface could have won my heart. As of now, I won’t recommend Panasonic T21.

Buy Panasonic T21 Now

Alternatives- Lava Iris 504Q (Better than the Rest), Xolo Play, Samsung Galaxy Core.

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  • Looking for a handy phone.
  • Against performance lags.

  • Expecting a perfect phone.
  • An avid Photographer.

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Panasonic T21 Specifications:

Read this before proceeding to Specifications- Why we don’t trust specifications?

Hardware

Panasonic T21

Processor1.2GHz Dual-core Broadcom 28145
GPUVideoCore IV HW
RAM1GB (User available: 512MB- Approx: 248MB used; 249MB Free) (512MB reserved for GPU)
Display TypeIPS Capacitive Touchscreen
Size & Resolution4.5inch, 720x1280pixels (~326.4ppi)
Primary Camera8MP, LED Flash, 3264 x 2448pixels
Secondary Camera2MP, 1600 x 1200 Pixels
Android OSAndroid 4.1.2 JellyBean
Battery1700mAh Li-Ion
MemoryInternal- 4GB {1.59GB Internal SD Card & 0.98GB System Storage}; microSD card upto 32GB
USBYes
EDGEYes
HSPA+Yes
Wi-FiWi-Fi with Hotspot & Wi-Fi Direct
BluetoothYes
GPSYes
Dimensions132 x 66 x 9.80mm
FM RadioYes
SensorsAccelerometer, Magnetic, Orientation, Light & Proximity
Dual SIMYes
ColorsBlack, White
Weight140g
Online PriceRs. 13,990

.Let us know about your opinions & experiences with the phone in the comments below.

Device sponsored by Audio Palace (Chhota Electronics)

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Mitesh Sonigra

Our resident jurist specializing in the Software side of things. Armed with an engineering degree in Computers, he spends a large part of his time dissecting the functioning of Mobile OS and their behaviours. Reach out to him on Google+

18 Responses to Panasonic T21 Review: Half-baked Treat from Panasonic

  1. Anurag says:

    Well it looked convincing on paper, but half-baked is the perfect word. I was waiting for this review for like forever, even asked Mr. Karwa a couple of times. But now that the verdict’s here, I will give it a pass and consider Elife E3 at this price point. Thanks guys.

  2. Karpal says:

    Hello, in specification this phone says it has 1GB RAM.
    But in your review (page 2) you say… RAM: 248MB used & 249MB Free

    This means 248+249 = 500MB RAM only.
    Where is the other 500mb RAM if it is advertised as 1GB RAM?

    I’m confused, can you please explain?

    • Mitesh Sonigra says:

      Yes it has 1GB RAM, of which 512MB is reserved for GPU. So only 512MB is shown to the user. It is confirmed by Panasonic Officials.

      • Karpal says:

        Thank you very much Mitesh! Now I understand.
        I checked other Android version 4 OS phones and I noticed they are all similar, only HALF of the RAM is available to the user.

        Is this always the structure of Android 4 and above?
        Half of the RAM is always reserved for the GPU?

        • Mitesh Sonigra says:

          T21 has 1GB RAM of which ~249MB (25%) is available for user run processes. Usually in other phones (irrespective of Android version), some part of the RAM is being used by the system processes.
          (100% free RAM will only be available when the system is turned off ;) )

          • Karpal says:

            No you got me wrong. I dont need 100% “available” RAM. lol that’s silly. I just want them to make “all RAM” visible to the user.

            Why are they showing only 50% of the RAM shown to the user,
            why not say.. ” RAM: 750MB used & 249MB Free? ”

            This causes confusion, why do they need to “hide” how much RAM is reserved for the OS or GPU right?

  3. Karpal says:

    Sorry one more question, so if I buy an Android Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0) Phone with only 512MB of RAM…

    This means only 250MB of RAM will be available for the User?
    and the other 250MB RAM will again be reserved for the GPU?

    • Mitesh Sonigra says:

      Hope your question is answered above.
      Amount of RAM space available for the end user differs from model to model.

      • Karpal says:

        Thanks Mitesh,

        The only question I have now is, why are they “hiding” the amount of RAM used by the GPU?

        For a 1GB RAM Phone, why do they only say (250mb used & 250mb Free).
        This will confuse the user and make them think 250+250 is only 500mb RAM.
        “where did the other 500mb RAM go?”

        So if the 500mb RAM is being used for GPU:
        Then instead of saying 250mb used, why not say 750mb used/250mb Free?

        I hope my question makes sense to you.

      • abhinav says:

        its true that this phone has only 512mb ram. and now the phone has also started giving problem. like it goes on standby mode after some time. i have purchased it and am regretting it.

  4. Fazal says:

    Why does this phone record only at 640 resolution? I mean even the low budget phones record at a higher resolution

  5. Mounesh says:

    I m looking for dual sim & HD with 1 GB Ram.

    Kindly suggest is this a phone which i can buy, or suggest me the perfect one within the same range 13k.

  6. Mounesh says:

    Hi Mitesh

    I really agree with the KARPAL.

    Why they are hiding the RAM for GPU. They would have displaced it on the screen, so there will be no confusion.

  7. Nilesh says:

    should i buy panasonic t21 or sony xperia M?

  8. Vimal R says:

    Hi….all I brought this mobile.. This looks very good stylist. It likes clone of Nexus’s model

  9. ravinder says:

    I purchased t21 Panasonic on 20/02/14 from naaptol.I feel that display is not good .the colors are not feel as natural there is yellowish shade over the basic colors.can any body clarify it is only with my handset or its normal

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