The Sprint “Industry First” Event just wrapped up in New York City and the big announcement was a Android-powered dual screen Kycoera Echo smart phone. While most companies are focusing on 4G network speeds, tablets, and large smart phones, this new gadget offers an interesting twist. The Echo allows users to run two apps side-by-side simultaneously.
“Sprint is proud to boast the most powerful Android portfolio available today and Echo adds to that legacy with industry-leading technology that will change the way our customers use smartphones,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. “Today’s busy schedules often demand that we do at least two things at once. Kyocera Echo is the first device that allows us to do a different task on each of two screens”
The dual screen configuration is where it all starts. The unique “simul-tasking” capabilities let users run two apps at once. For instance, Facebook on one display and Twitter on the other. Kyocera believes that this will let fast-paced owners do more things at once. Unfortunately, there is one major drawback: the dual screen mode is not for all apps. Only seven out of the box apps support side-by-side use.
Sprint demoed an email app which shows the inbox on one screen and a message preview on the other. A VueQue pre-loaded app offers the ability to watch YouTube and browse for more videos at once. Even Google Maps and the default web-browser can span across both displays. Kyocera will provide APIs so developers can enable dual screen support for any App.
For extra power, Kyocera bundles two 1370 mAh battery packs. An extra charging cradle makes it possible to charge the spare battery without the phone’s presence.
What’s Not Hot
Going beyond the two screens, the Kyocera Echo features fairly common hardware. The phone runs on the older Android v2.2 Froyo while most upcoming smart phones are heading to v2.3 Gingerbread. There is no dual core processor, which might make running two apps at once very slow. It is hard to tell whether the 1GB of RAM is enough. If those apps require fast data speeds, the lack of 4G connectivity is even more disappointing. Not to mention the unattractive piece of hardware.
Kycoera Echo Specifications:
- Mobile Network: 3G EVDO
- CPU: 1GHz Snapdragon (QSD 8650)
- Operating System: Android 2.2
- Screen: Two capacitive 3.5 inch LCDs
- Resolution: WVGA (800 x 480 pixel)
- Camera: 5 megapixel with flash
- Camcorder: 720p HD video capture
- Bluetooth: v2.1 with Stereo + EDR
- Memory: 1GB ROM and 512MB RAM
- Storage: 8 GB microSD included, up to 32 GB
- Sensors: Compass, accelerometer, proximity, and light
- Mobile Hotspot: Support for up to 5 devices
- Wi-Fi Network: 802.11 b/g
- Battery: Removable 1370 mAh battery plus spare
- Dimensions: 115.0 x 56.5 x 17.2 mm
- Weight: 193g (6.8 oz.)
Availability and Pricing
The Kyocera Echo will become available this spring for $199 with a new two-year contract. Existing customers due for upgrade are eligible for the same price after a $100 mail-in-rebate. Sprint will likely provide a solid date closer to launch, but the device will probably be available online and through retail stores as always. With the new monthly pricing plans, customers will have to pay an extra $10 for premium data on top of the regular $69 per month fee. The mobile hotspot will cost an additional $30 per month. We will get our hands on a device in the near future, so say tuned for a full review.
Links: Sprint – Kyocera Echo