The Teen First Look: Sprint’s Kyocera Echo Dual Screen Phone
We were able to get a few minutes tonight with the all new Sprint Kyocera Echo and got a chance to get a really nice feel of everything that’s in this dual screen beast. What do we think so far? Read on!
Ok, so first things first: the design. The Echo’s Pivot-Hinge flip design will no doubt take a little bit of time to really master (as in be able to go from pocket to open in under 5 seconds in class) but once you master it you’ll see its well worth it. The design of the Echo once you finally get the hang of it looks and feels really insane. For a phone with two 3.5 inch screens its remarkably thin (just slightly thicker than an iPhone 4) and the Pivot Hinge feels remarkably sturdy when the phone is open and the screens are locked together. In process of actually opening the phone however is where we really had trouble initially and got pretty nervous we’d go the wrong way and the thing would snap (again, takes getting used to).
And the screens– wow they both look incredible. Both screens have resolutions of 800×480, the standard high quality we see on many smartphones today. Both screens were pretty responsive regardless of which mode we were using them in: Tablet, Optimized, Simul-Task, or Single Screen. All modes seemed to work really well and for the most part were really quick.
From left to right: Simul-Tasking in the browser with ESPN and Facebook, with texting and VueQue (YouTube), and the Simul-Tasking apps (click on pix for larger shots)
And the Simul-Task mode in particular was insane. Switching between the multi-tasking apps was incredibly smooth, all you have to do is hold one finger on the top screen and one on the bottom and you can switch to any of the apps that support the Echo’s dual screens (right now that’s texting, email, browser, VueQue/YouTube, Maps, Gallery, Contacts and Phone). We really loved using Simul-Task, and it’s definitely one of the top features of this phone and one we see some real value in. Imagine watching a game in the browser (it’s an Android 2.2 phone after all and supports full Adobe Flash) and being able to at the same time either chat with your friends in Facebook/Twitter or texting them in the Messaging app– again as the video is playing in the other screen.
We also loved the Echo’s virtual keyboard, which is probably one of the top touchscreen keyboards we’ve ever used thanks in large part to it taking up the WHOLE second screen giving you a keyboard the size of the iPhone’s whole screen! Even in our brief use we were able to type on it as if we’ve been using it for days– it’s that good.
Graphics on the phone were pretty solid as well, though the Sims 3 game demo pre-loaded and optimized for the Echo wasn’t loading correctly during our hands-on so we were limited in what we could see up close of games on the Echo. What we saw in the presentation announcing the Echo though does show a lot of promise of what these dual screens could do for gaming and we’re really hoping this gets something like the PlayStation Suite as thinking about a Madden or PlayStation quality game on here gets us excited already!
On the more negative side of things we thought the look of the phone, mainly when “closed” in single screen mode, left a little to be desired (it isn’t “ugly” but to us at least it just didn’t look like a top of the line phone when compared to an EVO or iPhone. Of course, when it’s open to both screens it looks ridiculously awesome). Considering how this is also one of Sprint’s new flagship phones we were also a pretty upset by the lack of the now seemingly standard new high-end features like 4G, dual core processor, front camera and even pinch-to-zoom. Many of these features are already available on many current phones including Sprint’s own Epic 4G and EVO 4G, with the dual cores already announced to be coming to phones like the Motorola Atrix 4G and Droid Bionic pretty soon. And considering the amount of big cell phone events coming over the next two months (MWC next week and CTIA in March– both major cell phone conferences where a bunch of awesome new stuff are announced) things like dual core processors are bound to be coming relatively soon to other phones made by companies like HTC, Samsung and LG both for Sprint and other carriers; most probably before the “Spring” time when this would be released.
Even without all that though we’re still pretty excited for what the Echo’s revolutionary design could do for the future of our cell phones, and with the right apps we could see this definitely being a major game changer.