Kyocera Echo Hands-On and First Impressions [Video]

I have mixed feelings about the Kyocera Echo. It’s dual-screen design is actually pretty clever — a lot like the NEC dual-screen tablet we saw at CES — but something about it doesn’t scream “your next Android device.” Maybe it’s the Kyocera name tag and the history of disappointment that goes along with it. Maybe it is the fact that the two screens come off more gimmicky than anything. But really it has a whole lot to do with the fact that the touted technology isn’t across the whole system. Only certain applications built with Kyocera’s multi-tasking dual-screen APIs really benefit, and in the case of the Echo this includes only core apps right now.

As it is, regular apps will display across both screens or in single-screen mode. Core apps like mail, the gallery, and the browser can be set into dual-app mode using a gesture across both screens, or they can function in special modes designed to utilize both swaths of screen real estate individually. A cool concept that ultimately gets bagged down by the Echo’s lack luster performance. Sure, a 1GHz Snapdragon sounds good on paper but it just isn’t humming like it should in this device.

We’ll give the hardware some style points. It doesn’t look half bad and remains a pretty manageable form-factor despite the two screens. This is thanks to a specially designed hinge mechanism. But the benefits of a two screens are also their downfall. Admitting battery life is going to be an issue, Sprint is stocking every owner of the Echo with a backup battery and charging brick to combat excess drain caused by two glowing displays.

So my mixed feelings remain, but we like where this could go. If Android had some of this functionality built into its core to encourage more manufacturers to create dual-screen devices it might be something worth getting excited about, but as a system solely devoted to Kyocera’s product, we don’t see it catching on.

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  • 3 Phones

    At the end of the day, people are just upset that it wasnt an EVO 2 or Optimus 3D unveiling today. Sprint wouldn’t unleash anything crazy before CTIA. Its an Impressive phone and it is a first of its kind. So they met their goals.

  • zach

    I think its badass. I love new tech. . .

  • Ryan

    First off, Great concept phone, if it was faster I’d consider it.

    2nd, This REALLY needs a Tegra 2 or better chip to stand out in the market.

  • Tad

    How incredibly – horrible.

    I use my phone in portrait mode 90% of the time. I couldn’t even do that with this POS.

  • Goldni

    Very ambitious. Very clever. Very innovative. But it looks as though the Echo REALLY needs a dual core CPU and all indications Qualcomm just does not have them ready yet.

  • Keith

    I honestly think the dual screen design of this phone is really great. I’m just terribly disappointed in the hardware. No 4G just completely killed my desire for this phone.

  • phoenix

    i feel like, had kyocera made their own os, or even skinned the hell out of android, it would have worked better.

  • chance

    Lol. This is so typical. I love Sprint…but this a joke man. All this hype for an UNDERPOWERED KYOCERA whose main selling point reallllyyy serves no purpose whatsoever? Wake up Sprint. Look at what ur competitors are putting on the shelves weekly. For gods sake, Verizon has the iPhone, Droid bionic, LG revolution..ATT with comparable stuff too. Sprint has the Evo.. which is nice, it set the standard really.. but they seriously appear to be falling behind competition. March better hold something big or ill be looking for other service, along with tons of other ppl. Maybe they are reallly broke as shit? Like brooooke broke, end of the month no groceries, or gas broke?

  • Z

    Sprint shit the bed… Awesome

  • Warren

    Did anyone else notice the lag on that device when the rep was swiping across panels. Get real folks, this device is trash.

  • bubba

    One of the cleverest phones that nobody will buy. Wish they spent the engineering hours on a cutting edge phone rather than a novelty.

  • MagicMike

    Yes, I agree with the comments about needing a faster processor. It was missing swipes and taps all over the place. It also seemed very slow to respond to orientation changes.

  • Sean

    lulz @Warren

    Agreed, I like competition and great concept. This to me seems like it screams “hey look at me I am a concept device, can;t you tell?!” C’mon this is going to go nowhere extremely fast.

  • Ace Curry

    When I first heard of this phone this morning, I was expecting the dual core Qualcomm chip to be used (especially since Kyocera purchased Qualcomm’s phone division couple of years back). Guess not. It is an interesting concept (not my cup of tea but I could see how it is useful) but without at least a dual core processor, will be laggy (as seen in the video).

  • DroidzX

    Reminds me of the kin phones, good concept no weight. Its already coming out dead lol.

  • GorTro

    lol..Typical Android phone, the touch screen works when it wants to. Utterly annoying and unusable. We need better Android phones, a new generation of then. Unfortunately most suck right now, of course except for ones that HAVEN’T been released, we’ll know then.

  • James

    Nintendo DS Emulator !!! :-)

  • Saneok

    it was sooo laggy. it needs at least a dual core.

  • lost

    The concept sounds good in theory. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of buy in from developers… as seen by the need of a SDK. Also, having so much customization translates to me to “slow upgrades.”
    On a side note, for my needs, Sprint offers me the lowest monthly plan of the major carriers. However, as I see what Spring thinks “it’s the next thing” saddens me. I guess everything is a trade off in life…. pay higher fees and get spottier service with ATT for th Atrix or stay with Sprint with the currently luck luster line up.

  • SIGINT

    That is a very cool phone. Very versatile. The biggest downer is no 4G, but it probably doesn’t make sense for Sprint to have too many 4G phones competing against each other.

    Most of these super phones one Verizon will fail. Their selection is far too saturated and now there is Iphone to deal with.

    As far as mid-range phones go, the Echo is far more exciting than the Evo Shift.

    Now we all wait to see the Evo2

  • PT

    Is it me or does the phone lags like a bitch?
    I mean, I appreciate Sprint for taking the road less traveled (by being the industry’s FIRST), but here’s the proof that a 2nd gen snapdragon isn’t going to cut it with a dual-screen.

  • Phone Dog

    Words cant even express my disappointment here. This sucks!

  • http://none zzx

    Is it capable of video expanded on both screens?

  • j

    @SIGINT – “more exciting than the Evo shift”?

    Er… Uhm… No.

  • asd

    Sprint just lost me as a customer, and im on their dealer plan. If samsung’s galaxy 2 phones come out around the same time that the atrix will I will move over to at&t.

  • curiant

    You remember all those dumb featurephones that Nokia pumped out pre-iPhone pre-Android? Ridiculous form factors which only sold to niches? Stupid square phones, pointless shapes and stupid buttons. Gimmicks in search of gimmicks.

    This is one of those.

  • jroc

    Does each screen gets its own battery?

  • moii

    At the end of the day people will buy this phone…people that dont know much about android and dont really care for dual core processors simply because its a different phone with 2 screens

  • Rick James

    If the dual screens don’t work with every single app then its a waste of time…Also if you’re into custom ROM’s I can see this being a major pain in the ass..

    Very disappointed in this news..

  • PimpStrong

    This phone is neat AND stupid. Instantaneous failure.

  • psych

    Looks like a bunch of stoners designed this.. whoever approved this as a line up phone in sprint is an idiot

  • Bwolcott

    I think its awesome, its different and gives people more options.

  • Ceger

    I love the dual screen concept, but no 4G and lack of front facing camera is too much of a step backwards for me.

  • 1ofdakoolkidz

    Hey Sprint, how can you sell a Kyocera Dsi and call it the first of it’s kind. Nintendo must be pissed you stole there design, wait that’s right their product actually has a purpose.

  • SKiTz

    Worst. Product demo. Ever.

    The phone was insanely laggy. Then he says, “As you can see…you can really cruise on this [keyboard]” and proceeds to screw up the same word over and over taking a ridiculously long time to type a 3 word sentence.

    Kyocera: Get new demo guys and stop showing off barely functional prototypes.

    This fails hard.

  • shawn1224

    @ SKiTz no shit, if cruising on a keyboard means I can’t even type the word “thanks” without completely butchering it, then I’ll pass.

  • mark

    this is an absolutely terrible idea for an phone sprint should’ve have done better. In case they havent’t notice most phones are coming with dual core now, THE ONLY POSITIVE THING I CAN THINK THAT WILL COME FROM A DEVICE LIKE THIS IS NGBA AND DESUME…the ds emulator

  • PleaseBeOnSprint

    I just threw up in my mouth a little. That is all.

  • aaleigha

    OMG, this is gonna be bad, laggy processor,and the dual screens spell battery drain. Plus on the atheistic quality of display not to shabby minus the middle looks terrible distracting from a video or what ever you are viewing.

  • Anthony

    I was totally disappointed, i was expecting evo 2, htc phone, iphone 5 in the summer, lg, even tablet 4g, my contract ends in march so hoefully their will be something that will be worth showing off :(