The handsets, now on display at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, extend Panasonic's shift toward corporate clients rather than retail consumers. Squeezed by weak sales of consumer electronics like TVs, the company lost USD 15 billion over two years before embarking on a restructuring that should see it return to profit this fiscal year.
Having pulled out of the consumer smartphone business last year, Panasonic said on Monday it is aiming to make 40,000 Toughpad handsets per year. They will first be available in Japan with a price tag of about 130,000 yen (USD 1,300), before being rolled out to Europe and United States.
With a five-inch screen and three centimetres thick, the handsets are designed to match the Toughpad tablets for resilience. According to Panasonic, they can be dunked in water, withstand a fall of up to three metres and function in temperatures in a range from minus 20 degrees to 60 degrees celsius.
The company will release two versions of the handsets carrying the Toughpad brand, one running Microsoft's Windows Embedded 8 and the other running Google's Android operating system.