Enterprise Mobility: Sprint Kyocera Echo Creates an Android Smartphone with a Tablet Twist
Kyocera Echo Unboxed
The device comes in a big gray box, with a smaller box that includes the mini-USB, external battery charger and spare battery. The device measures about 4.5 inches long, 2.2 inches wide and slightly more than half an inch thick.
The Side View
Turning the Echo on its side reveals, from left to right, the stereo headphone jack, SD card slot, power button, volume controls and mini-USB port. Note how the device is essentially two candy-bar displays stacked in this image. The Echo includes an 8GB microSD card but supports cards up to 32GB.
The Echo Back Panel
The back reveals the 5-megapixel camera lens and microphone. The camera can switch to a 720p HD camcorder. It's no Evo 4G or Droid X in terms of picture taking (those phones sport 8MP cameras) and video shoots, but it does the trick.
The device is a bricklike 6.8 ounces and therefore not conducive for easy pocketing, which will put some folks off for sure. But you have to remember, it's sort of like having two devices in one, and if you think of the Echo as a mini tablet it makes sense; the twin candy bar displays pull apart and can be flattened thanks to this pivot hinge.
Here is the Echo flattened out in tablet form. Note the two 3.5-inch LCD WVGA (800 by 480 pixels) capacitive touch screens and how they form a 4.7-inch diagonal (800 by 960 pixels) laid flat.
The Echo has four modes: single screen, simultask, optimized and tablet. Check out Pac-Man in single mode, courtesy of the Namco mobile gaming app Kyocera preloaded on the device.
This is what ESPN.com looks like in tablet mode, which spread one app or Website across both displays. This is ideal for viewing maps and videos. Users can easily swipe left to right to scroll through the screen. The little gap between screens isn't much of a nuisance.
Check out the scrolled screen after we swiped to see scores.
Here's Echo's apps menu with the display in tablet mode.
We love the optimized view, which spreads one app with related functionality across the two screens. For example, see the Echo's dialer with keys on the bottom and the contacts and other data across the top screen.
Users can also text or email by composing on one screen with the touch-screen keyboard on the other.
In another optimized construct, the preloaded VueQue app lets users watch a YouTube video on one display while browsing and queuing additional YouTube videos on the other.
Echo is all about multitasking, but Kyocera has coined (and is trademarking) the phrase Simul-Task Mode. Simultasking lets users engage with any two of the phone's messaging, email, Web browsing, phone, gallery, contacts and VueQue apps running concurrently but independently on the dual displays. To access these apps, a user taps each display at the same time.
Running Two Apps at Once
Here we show a YouTube video on the top and load the Bandai Namco Pac-Man game in the browser on the bottom screen. Users can also access email on one screen and open a text message. This is cool, but ideally Kyocera should allow all apps to work this way.
How the Camera Works
We just had to show you how the camera works on a dual-screen Echo. Tapping the camera button yields the viewfinder on the right with the controls on the left for smooth picture taking or video shooting.
One of the downsides of the Echo is its relatively weak battery, which is why the phone maker sells it with a backup battery and an external charger, which can also tether to the phone as an external power supply. We believe smartphones should last all day without recharging, but it's tough to find many that fit this bill after prolonged use. The Echo has a weak 1,370-mAh battery, but fortunately it shipped with a spare. Also, Kyocera preloaded this battery use app to show users how much power each open app is consuming.