Panasonic to bring Lumix smartphones to Europe

Panasonic looks set to launch its Lumix line of camera-inspired smartphones in Europe in early 2012, with the first sighting of the handsets expected to occur at CES in January.

The phones have been available in Japan for a short while, helping contribute to Panasonic selling just under 4.5 million handsets throughout the last year. The company hopes to expand these sales to 7.5 million by 2015.

Reuters reports that Panasonic is currently in talks with a major telecommunications firm over plans to expand into the Eurozone and across Asia and North America.

Sporting the name of the Japanese electronic giant's successful camera line, the Lumix phones feature an impressive 13.2-megapixel camera.

The proposed expansion will be the first time Panasonic has made mobile handsets available in the UK since 2005, when it bowed out citing fierce competition from other manufacturers.

While the UK market is still hotly contested, by using the Android operating system, Panasonic will be able to take advantage of the large app market and the operating system's wide existing user base to help win over customers to its smartphone.

It's not clear if Panasonic will be redesigning the casing or layout of its Japanese Lumix handsets before releasing them over here, but it's thought we'll get our first look at the design during CES 2012 in Las Vegas next year.

These aren’t the only Lumix devices in the news at the moment, with a new camera showing up as part of the range just a few weeks ago. Known as the DMC-GX1, the new model comes with a range of optional, replaceable lenses. Pricing starts at £500.