The Panasonic Eluga is a lower to mid-range Android smartphone dressed in upper to mid-range clothing. It tries hard to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the HTC One S and the Sony Xperia S, but essentially comes up short on most, if not all, fronts.

Whether this is due to the slightly dated and slightly unnecessarily tweaked software, the slightly underwhelming processor powering the proceedings, or the slightly odd hardware exclusions (front facing camera, flash, microSD slot) we're not sure.

We liked

The Panasonic Eluga has a great design, and the build quality is solid. It looks like a great handset, and its svelteness defies the fantastic 4.3-inch screen that is packed in so tightly that it's an almost edge-to-edge display.

The camera takes great shots, video recording quality is good, and the Panasonic-refreshed camera interface is a pleasure to use.

We disliked

Battery life is poor, the hardware is often unresponsive and the operating system is in desperate need of an Ice Cream Sandwich infusion.

Also, the lack of a flash or front-facing camera makes the Panasonic Eluga feel almost incomplete.

Final verdict

The Panasonic Eluga marks the Japanese giant's return to the European smartphone market. And while the Panasonic Eluga impresses with its high quality build and graceful good looks, it disappoints on a number of fronts and is not the return to form that we'd hoped for.

Ultimately, the Panasonic Eluga's slick design and impressive display are not enough to distract from its obvious shortcomings.

It's a case of "must try harder" for Panasonic on this occasion. Let's hope that the Panasonic Eluga Power, the next handset set to land from the company, rights some wrongs.