Sprint wants you to believe that two screens are better than one. Its new Android-powered smartphone, the Echo, will feature two touchscreen surfaces in a hinged design.
Made by Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera, the phone’s dual 3.5-inch WVGA screens can be operated independent of one another or combine in “tablet mode” to add up to a single 4.7-inch integrated display (albeit one with a hinge in the middle).
The Echo’s highlights can be seen in the phone’s obvious multitasking potential. The phone can be operated like most other touchscreen smartphones in its single-screen mode, but in “Simul-task Mode” users can run separate apps on each screen — like, say, open a text on the upper screen while reading an email on the lower one. Tablet mode, says Sprint, works well for viewing videos and lists across a larger surface area. However, early reports from other blogs suggest that there are significant limitations to the Echo’s multitasking capabilities.
The phone will run on Sprint’s 3G network and comes with Wi-Fi hotspot capability, with support for up to five separate devices. Under the hood, the Echo is running on a 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of RAM, and its 5-megapixel camera is capable of 720p HD video capture. It will run on version 2.2 (Froyo) of Google’s Android operating system.
There are some shortcomings. The Echo doesn’t run on the company’s 4G WiMax spectrum, which Sprint been promoting in its 2011 4G smartphone offerings, beginning with HTC’s Evo Shift and the Evo 4G in January. The company recently announced its $10 premium data-plan fee for all new 3G and 4G phones activated after Jan. 30.
It also lacks a dual-core processor. Whether its 1-GHz Snapdragon is beefy enough to handle the dual-screen multitasking of the phone remains to be seen.
Also still unknown is the phone’s battery life, although here’s a hint: Sprint is bundling it with a spare 1,370 mAh battery and a “low-profile” charging cradle that can also act as an external battery pack. In other words, you’re probably going to need that extra juice.
The Echo will cost $200 with a two-year Sprint service agreement (after a $100 mail-in rebate, mind you), and will be released in the spring.
Original Article: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/02/kyocera-echo/