Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sprint's Kyocera Echo dual-screen Android phone announced, we go hands-on (update)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/07/sprints-kyocera-echo-dual-screen-android-phone-announced-we-go/

Sprint promised us an "industry first" at its event today, and it certainly delivered: check out the Kyocera Echo, the first dual-screen Android phone. That's right, dual-screen -- that's two 3.5-inch 480 x 800 displays which can be unfolded and used as a single 4.7-inch 960 x 800 surface. The screens are connected by a slick sliding liquid-metal hinge that Kyocera's filed several patents on -- the phone can be closed and used like a regular single-screen phone, unfolded all the way, or propped up into the faux-laptop configuration shown above. Under the hood there's a 1GHz second-gen Snapdragon running Android 2.2 -- we'll forgive the older software because Kyocera had to do extensive customization to add dual-screen support to seven core apps like the browser, email, and messaging. The seven optimized apps can be run on each screen individually so you can have the browser up top and email below, and several of them include useful full-dual-screen views as well. There's also a new dual-screen app manager, which is brought up by tapping the two screens simultaneously. Unfortunately, third party apps can't be run in any of the new modes and just fill the entire display for now -- Kyocera and Sprint say an SDK is coming shortly.

Interestingly, the Echo doesn't really run the optimized apps simultaneously when you have two of them open -- it quickly switches them in and out of hibernation, even though they're both displayed on screen. That means you can't do things like watch a video while writing an email, for example -- it's an odd limitation, but it seems like it'll only be an issue in limited circumstances. As for battery life, Kyocera and Sprint aren't giving definite numbers, but we were told things would last about a day with heavy use of both screens -- and the Echo is being sold in a bundle with a second battery in an external charging case, so you should have plenty of juice on the go. Downsides? Well, it's not the most attractive phone we've ever seen, and we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that there's just a lone rear-facing 5 megapixel camera with 720p video capture and that the Echo is 3G-only -- there's no WiMAX, which is a bit odd for a Sprint halo device. Still, it's definitely one of the most intriguing Android handsets we've ever seen, and at $199 (after a $100 rebate) when it launches sometime in the coming months, it's bound to pique some serious interest. Check a short hands-on video after the break.

Update: So the simultaneous apps thing appears to somewhat complex -- we weren't able to run a video and email when we played with the phone during our briefing, but Sprint's Fared Adib was able to do it when we ran into him during the launch event. We'll post that video soon -- and of course we'll dig deep into this when we get a review unit. One more thing we noticed: none of the devices we saw in action had pinch-to-zoom enabled anywhere, which is obviously very strange. We were told that the software is still early, so we'll have to see if it makes it into shipping product.

Update 2: It's attack of the press materials! New images, video, and release can be found below!

Continue reading Sprint's Kyocera Echo dual-screen Android phone announced, we go hands-on (update)

Sprint's Kyocera Echo dual-screen Android phone announced, we go hands-on (update) originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 07 Feb 2011 18:30:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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