The Kyocera Echo: The phone that wants to be your tablet

The Sprint Kyocera echo ($ 200 with a two-year contract) is the first dual-screen smartphone Android to reach the United States. With a design reminiscent of the Nintendo DS, the echo seems to have a better tablet than a phone.
Awkward and heavy

The Echo has two 3.5-inch WVGA screens that can be combined to form a 4.7 inch big screen when the phone is in "tablet mode" (more on that later). There are two sets of Start menu and return buttons (one for each screen). Interestingly, the eco lacks the dedicated search button found on almost all other Android phones. The left column of the device houses the microUSB port, volume control, power button, microSD card slot and 3.5 mm jack for headphones. I was happy that I do not have to remove the battery to access the SD card, but not so happy with the power button is on the spine of the phone. You'll find a 5 megapixel camera (with flash) on the back of the device.

At 6.80 oz, the echo is definitely one of the heaviest phones out there. That second screen adds a lot of volume to the device, giving a similar size to the phones with sliding QWERTY keyboards. The size and general shape of the rectangle of the phone makes it very convenient to carry around or talking for long periods. The hinge that holds the two screens together is a "Super Copper Alloy" which is supposed to be very durable, yet every time you open or close the phone that he was afraid of breaking it somehow. When the phone is open, you can push the two screens together to hold them in place and reduce the gap between them. This makes the Eco in a giant touch screen, I found that this configuration is the easiest way to use the device.

The echo of Kyocera is a 3G phone with a single processor 1GHz Snapdragon, making it look a little dated on all mobile dual-core that have appeared this year. This does not mean that the phone does not respond, much less. The echo is able to run two applications at once (one on each screen) and does pretty well.

Call quality is average with some minor hiss heard on my end of the call. When I tried to hang up, the proximity sensor did not respond and I was able to finish my call. I had to pop open the two screens (activating the speaker) to hit the "End Call" button. This happened both times I tried to make a call.

The echo also can not take advantage of Sprint's 4G WiMAX network, but relies on the CDMA network for voice and data. This could alleviate the burden of the phone's battery, but other services could undermine the battery in the same way. While I could not run extensive tests of the battery, which indicated that the two screens open and functioning seems to eat away at the battery fairly quickly, the battery dropped from 30 percent of capacity up to 12 percent in a within 30 minutes or so. Kyocera may have anticipated this, it includes an external battery charger with the phone. Echo users would do well to take a spare battery and keep the charger at all times.

The Echo comes with an unmodified version largely Android 2.2 (Froy) with relatively few additions.

It comes loaded with a handful of applications that can run simultaneously with the two screens. "Simul-tasking applications (as they are called) can be identified with a small blue box next to the icon of the application. To run two applications at the same time simply tap two screens at once, while running a "Simul-task" of the application. A list of compatible applications appear on both screens, and you can choose which application you want to run alongside the one currently open.

I have found running two applications simultaneously to be difficult, however, we must constantly readjust their grip on the phone to navigate the two screens. From April, only seven applications (browser, contacts, email, gallery, messaging, phone and VenQue) can take advantage of this feature, but is supposed to come in the future.
"Tablet mode" is a victory

As mentioned earlier, you can lock the two screens to form a large 4.7 inch touch screen. Surf the web in "tablet mode" the device was an exceptional experience. The extra space makes it easy to maneuver around large Web pages, and it was nice to have a larger screen to read and respond to email.

If you download the Tablet as an extension of the implementation of Android Market, you can run some applications in the echo of the same as running on a full-size tablet. You can easily change this function inside or outside the application according to their preferences.

The echo comes pre-installed with Swype, occupying the entire screen keyboard when in tablet mode. I found it easier to create error-free messages and emails using the lower screen to do this using a virtual keyboard on a smaller device.
Other pre-loaded applications

Along with the usual applications loaded on Sprint phones, the Echo comes with a few other notable applications as VueQue, MyBooks and Social Jibe Messenger. VueQue is a YouTube application that allows you to queue up videos as you watch. MyBooks echo becomes a mini e-book reader with e-book store. Jibe, which replaces the Facebook application is found in many other Android phones, allows you to link multiple social networks (as a friend on HTC Sense cycle) and view them in a clean, easy to navigate design.

The 5 megapixel camera does a decent job in capturing still images. Videos do not seem to have that problem, but the camera had a tendency to over-expose the white.

Although in general the camera was good, holding the phone to take pictures was not. With the two screens open, had to hold the phone in the screen above to make sure it was no accident blocking the camera. This is not a problem when the phone is closed, however.

The Echo comes with the stock player Android media, which does not fully exploit the large phone display. Video playback device is not recommended because it will not have a piece in the middle of the phone, where the games are. Also, I found the top screen to not be as strong as the background when displaying images.

Apart from having a larger area for browsing the Internet, the echo not seem to benefit greatly from having two screens. Most times, the second screen in the economy felt like a little trick. A physical keyboard would have been a better use of the additional panel secondary display, and would have made the phone more attractive to people who frequently text or email. Couple that with relatively outdated specifications, and you have a phone that could be more gimmick than useful. As such, you may want to pass the echo for a 4G phone or dual core.


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