Panasonic just unveiled a rugged smartphone that isn't heavy enough to hold a door open

I just watched a new smartphone get dropped off a dump truck:

Tumbled dried:

And drowned:

Picture: Peter Farquhar/Business Insider

And it still works:

Yet there is virtually no chance anyone reading this will buy it. Mainly because it’s a Panasonic and explaining to your friends why you bought a Panasonic smartphone could be awkward.

Especially given the FZ-T1 costs $1899.

Unless you – or your boss – had a very good reason to buy a Panasonic smartphone.

Yesterday, we found out there actually are several very good reasons, because there’s a whole other world out there where smartphones are actually tools, rather than accessories.

Emergency services workers and military personnel need a smartphone that works when it’s covered in rain, mud and blood. Miners and whatever they’re holding spend most of their working lives covered in fine dust.

When tradies drop things, it’s usually onto hard surfaces, and often from a decent height.

All of the above also wear gloves a lot of the time, which is why the FZ-T1 has Glove Mode, which means you won’t be stabbing futilely at your screen before giving up and just taking the freaking gloves off for the 15th time today.

We’ll give the FZ a proper workout over the next few weeks, knowing that it’s obviously a very specialised phone for a very specific customer base. But we also saw enough little touches like Glove Mode, and incredible durability, to see that the appeal in this particular type of “rugged” device is starting to widen, and not just for the people using them.

Panasonic’s people yesterday quoted research that showed more and more workers are spending at least one day a week out of the office. And if they happen to break their phone, it takes an average of two days to get another one back online, which equals lost productivity. Panasonic’s research has found that the average cost of downtime per incident is upwards of $3000.

For you and I, far more stressful is the loss of social engagement, but bosses might be interested in other research that shows equipping staff with a rugged phone can result in a 15% ROI over five years. And 14% of workers’ phones need some kind of repair every year, so like it or not, you might be handed a brick for eight hours a day, because it makes good business sense for your employer.

Panasonic’s new brick is 13.1mm thick and weighs 230g. In rugged phone world, that’s pretty sexy. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon quadcore processor, and has a nifty battery that can be swapped out and replaced with a freshly charged one, without actually powering down the phone.

We’ll get back to you once we’ve properly drowned, dropped and generally kicked it around a bit more.

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