Kyocera’s Echo official: When one screen just isn’t enough

Sprint has officially announced the Kyocera Echo, a dual-screen smartphone running Android 2.2 Froyo. We honestly don’t know what to make of the handset itself and would have been more impressed with something a little more on the 3D side of things, but the Echo is an interesting device nonetheless. The Echo will be available this Spring for $199 on a new two-year contract.

The Echo gives you a full 4.7 inches of viewable screen real estate when the two screens are combined, ensuring that you won’t be running out of space anytime soon. From the looks of it – give or take some physical controls – the Echo seems to be like a Nintendo DS. That said, the Echo is a smartphone and likely functions nothing like the hand-held gaming device, but we’re still wondering why one may need two screens.

One of the cool things you can do with the Echo is run two applications at once. You can browse the internet with one screen, and check your e-mail on the other without having to switch between applications. The Echo makes everyone a power user, and will allow you to get what you need to do more efficiently, if not just distract you more than ever. The companies are saying that multitasking is in the past, say hello to “simultasking.”

One thing is for certain: The Echo better be solidly built. Having two displays can only increase the possibilities for significant damage when the device is dropped. We’d like to see some Gorilla Glass on this thing, as that would put some worries at ease. Closing the Echo will make the two displays face each other, which may be better than having the screens face outward, but who knows how the screens will be affected if something gets in between them when it’s closed.

Held together by pivot hinges, the Echo is one of the most unique smartphones we’ve ever seen and while it’s interesting indeed, we’d like to see a genuine use case for it. And no, something like AT&T’s shoddy GSM iPhone advantage ad won’t do. That said, a lot of people may not even care if the Echo doesn’t  have too many practical use cases, they just know they want two-screens on their smartphone. It may be a gimmick, but it’s a cool one.

Sprint also posted up a fact sheet of the device, and you can find a good chunk of it below.

The Echo has 4 different modes you can use it in:

  • Single-Screen Mode with all the functionality of a single-display touchscreen smartphone
  • Simul-Task™ Mode with two of the phone’s seven core apps running concurrently but independently on the device’s dual displays
  • Optimized Mode with both displays supporting a single, optimized app with complementary functionality and enhanced usability
  • Tablet Mode with one application spread across both screens for a full 4.7-inch viewing area
Some extra specs:
  • Dual 3.5-inch LCD WVGA (800 x 480 pixels) capacitive touchscreens (4.7 inches diagonally and 800 x 960 pixels when opened)
  • Android 2.2 with access to more than 100,000 apps
  • Wi-Fi hotspot capability (supports up to 5 devices)*
  • 5MP camera with flash, autofocus and 2x digital zoom and 720p HD camcorder
  • Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports cards up to 32GB
  • 1GHz Snapdragon processor (QSD 8650 Android)
  • Main display: Dual 3.5-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreens (800 x 480 pixels or 800 x 960 pixels when opened)
  • Memory: 1GB/512MB; 8GB microSD™ included

Who’s looking forward to this device come Sprint time?

  • This is seriously the Letdown of the year.

    • Anonymous

      I asked during the liveblog but is it disappointing because of the factor, specs, handset maker or all of the above?

      • Bamboojackson

        Pretty sure the hatred is coming from the name Kyocera. No one wants to belive that Kyocera devices should be let off of the virgin/ pre paid leash. And there is good reason for this, as the physical hard ware is usually cheap. Specs read nicely but, the Kyocera branding kill it out the door imo

        • Actually, the letdown here is the specs for me. The concept and uses actually appeal to me more than any other phone, since I am spoiled by huge resolutions on my laptop and a chronic alt-taber or side-by-side viewing. However the specs look too tame. In a year when phones are getting two cores plus HD/3D gpu’s for one screen, Sprint unveiled two screens running off of a date single core. If this had Tegra I would have bought it for $100 more. We’ll see if I still feel that way when it is closer to launch.

          • Anonymous

            Interesting. A dual-core, 4G Kyocera Echo with two screens would definitely have been a really interesting device.

  • Bamboojackson

    Also “Closing the Echo will make the two displays face each other, which may be better than having the screens face outward” Thought the devcie closed over itself leaving the top screen exposed like a good ol fashion one disply touch screen devcie.

  • This is the WORST “Industry First” I have seen in my life… Shame on Sprint. Id like to have seen a 2Ghz Android Phone with WiMAX and GSM or something…

  • TPL

    I’m still personally holding out for a Sprint 4G based 3D phone with dual-core processing capabilities, but there is something I really like about the Echo concept: The ability to have a large screen phone, without suffering the traditional bulk that accompanies such handheld devices. I still may be waiting for another phone myself, but I believe this to be an awesome idea nonetheless!

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