Sprint Kyocera Echo Android Smartphone Brings Quality to Novelty
Sprint's Kyocera Echo smartphone is an enjoyable Android 2.2 gadget geared for letting users accessing two different apps on two 3.5-inch displays that can be combined to form one screen.It's hard not to look at the Kyocera Echo from Sprint as anything but a novelty device. The Android 2.2 smartphone, which went on sale April 17 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, is a chunky little brick of a smartphone with two 3.5-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreens (800 x 480 pixels) stacked atop one another.
The screens are separated not by magic or wizardry but by a patent-pending pivot hinge that swings out and snaps into place to let the two screens sit side by side and form a 4.7-inch (800 x 960 pixels) display when opened. If this sounds tablet-esque, well, it is, but Kyocera calls it the industry's first dual-screen smartphone.
To test data integrity between the Echo's dual screens, I downloaded Google Maps update in single-screen mode, then popped the hinge to tablet mode with both screens and the app finished downloading without delay. Optimized mode is interesting because it lets users run one app across both displays with "complementary functionality." For example, when you text or email with both screens parallel, the compose window sits in the top screen in landscape mode, with the virtual keyboard commanding the second display. In dialer mode, users can view the phone's contact directory on the top screen, and type phone numbers via the virtual dial pad on the bottom. Users can also scroll through thumbnail images on one screen while viewing an enlarged image on the other. Kyocera even included an app for optimized mode called VueQue, which lets users watch a YouTube video on one display while browsing, queuing and buffering additional YouTube videos on the other display. This worked really well in a few tests. The keyboard, by the way, was a joy to use. The Echo featured rich, large keys or integrated Swype gesture input, which is pretty ubiquitous on Android phones these days, for those who prefer it.