First to feature the company's new Arbo virtual assistant, both the smartphones will be exclusively available on Flipkart and will fight the likes of budget smartphones from Chinese and Indian smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei, etc. and Lava, Intex, Micromax respectively.
The Panasonic Eluga Ray Max will be made available in two inbuilt storage variants - 32GB storage at Rs. 11,499 and 64GB storage at Rs. 12,499. On the other hand, the Eluga Ray X will only be available in 32GB storage variant at Rs. 8,999. Here are our first impressions of the smartphones.
Arbo: Panasonic's Smart virtual Assistant
As I mentioned, the highlight of the smartphones will be the Panasonic's in-house developed virtual assistance 'Arbo' that's claimed to evolve with the user's usage patterns. Panasonic Arbo will be company's take on Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, Microsoft Cortana and the soon to be announced Samsung's Bixby.
The Arbo was not yet installed on the newly launched Eluga handsets so we cannot actually comment on its performance.
The company says that the artificial intelligent software will be pushed via an OTA update in the second week of April 2017. Panasonic says that Arbo comes with its 'location identification' feature that recognizes the places often visited by the user and sends out prompt responses asking them to make changes to their phone settings.
The AI powered assistant takes care of all the daily tasks and activities like calls and messages that need to be framed and sent out on a regular basis. Besides, the company mentioned that Arbo also keeps a detailed list of all the applications functioning on the smartphone, gathers detailed information on their habits and informs them about it accordingly.
Design: Unibody Metal Designs
Following the trend, Panasonic is offering metal unibody design with the latest Eluga Ray Max and Eluga Ray X smartphones. As per company, the smartphones are made out of aircraft grade alloy that adds durability and also gives the handsets a premium feel.
During my brief stint with Eluga Ray Max and Eluga Ray X, I found the Eluga Ray Max 's quite sturdy and practical for everyday usage. The handset has a compact form factor and can be easily used with one hand. On the other hand, the Eluga Ray X feels a bit bulky as it packs in a large 5.5-inch screen compared to Eluga Ray Max's 5.2-inch display.
Both the smartphones have rounded edges and curved rear panels that offers good grip in hands in everyday usage. The right side of the handsets have volume rockers and power button, while the hybrid SIM card trays are placed on the left edge.
The bottom has the microUSb 2.0 port with a microphone and the 3.5mm headphone jack is positioned on top. The Eluga Ray Max has a 9.3mm thickness while the bigger ELuga Ray X measures 10.5 mm at its thinnest point.
Display: One with full HD and other with HD resolution
ELuga Ray Max flaunts a 5.2-inch full HD IPS LCD Screen, whereas the ELuga Ray X offers a bigger 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen with 720p resolution. The displays are quite touch responsive and colour tones also seemed quite natural in outdoor conditions. Eluga Ray Max also gets Gorilla Glass 3 protection, whereas Panasonic hasn't mentioned anything about the screen protection for the Eluga Ray X.
Camera: 16MP Rear Cameras and front cameras with LED flash
Both the smartphones feature a 16 MP rear camera with LED flash light. The Eluga Ray Max has an 8MP front camera while the Eluga ray X sports a 5MP front facing camera. The front cameras are paired with LED flash lights to allow you to capture selfies in low-light conditions. Eluga Ray Max comes with a professional mode and can record videos in 1080p format.
The front cameras on both the handsets come with 'Beauty' modes to brighten up the selfies you capture. During my brief usage, I found the 16MP rear cameras quite average in terms of picture quality.
The results are not comparable to handsets like Honor 6X and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. However the 8MP selfie camera on Eluga Ray Max seems to be very decent and offer good selfie images. I will evaluate their complete potential in the comprehensive review in the coming week.
Hardware and Software: Decent hardware and stock Android experience
The Eluga Ray Max is powered by 1.4GHz 64bit Octa Core Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor paired with 4GB RAM and comes with 64GB and 32GB internal memory variants that can be expanded up to 128GB.
The smartphone also comes equipped with a front finger print sensor in collaboration with 'Android for work', which as per Panasonic provides the smartphone with an upgraded security that can be surpassed only by the designated user. Coming on the ELuga Ray X, the smartphone is backed by a 1.3GHz quad-core CPU paired with 3GB of RAM for multitasking.
The smartphone skips the fingerprint scanner that can be a deal-breaker for some consumers looking for a budget smartphone with the added security feature.
Both the smartphones run on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and I am delighted by the fact that Panasonic hasn't added any extra software layer that most of the times hamper the user experience. That said, both the handsets run stock Android resulting in smooth lag free mobile user experience.
Battery and Connectivity
As far as batteries are concerned, the Eluga Ray Max gets a 3,000 mAh battery unit that also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging. On the other hand, the bigger ELuga Ray X is backed by a 4,000m mAh battery but sadly there's no Quick Charge support offered with the handset.
For connectivity, the dual-SIM handsets offers 4G VoLTE support, OTG support, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, FM and GPS.
Looking at the specifications and pricing, the Eluga Ray Max seems to be a decent overall package for consumers looking for a budget smartphone with high-end features. The smartphone is correctly priced and with the soon to be available Arbo virtual assistant, it can be a value for money package in the already crowded Indian smartphone space.
Talking about the Eluga Ray X, there's not any differentiating factor about the smartphone, besides the Arbo smart assistant, and it will face tough competition from the budget smartphones from Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei and other smartphone makers selling their handsets under Rs. 10,000.