Just as we heard earlier today, a brand new smartphone has arrived on the scene. The Kyocera Echo, to be sold exclusively through Sprint, is the only Google Android smartphone that comes with two touchscreen displays.
The initial form factor will look familiar to many people. In its “closed” form, you get access to a single 3.5-inch WVGA touchscreen. The landscape slide can pop open, though, revealing not a hardware QWERTY keyboard or dedicated gaming controls, but instead another 3.5-inch WVGA touchscreen.
What’s interesting is that you can operate the two displays independently or you can combine them to make an oversized 4.7-inch “integrated display.” The former sounds like a cool idea for multitasking, whereas the latter is better suited to the “optimized mode” where you use an “optimized app” to fill both screens. Maybe the bottom screen can be a virtual QWERTY keyboard while the top screen keeps showing your Facebook or e-mail, for example.
Aside from the dual displayness, the Kyocera Echo is pretty middle of the road as far as specs. There’s Android 2.2, Sprint 3G (no 4G love yet), 5MP cam, 720hp HD recording, Snapdragon QSD8650 1GHz processor, 1GB memory, and stereo Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.
In a sea of Android smartphones that look stunningly similar to one another, it’s good to see someone brave enough to go way out there. The stumbling block, I’d imagine, is getting enough devs to fiddle with the SDK to create these “optimized” apps. That and a “Kyocera” is still a hard sell compared to Apple, HTC, or Samsung.
Look for it “this spring” for $199.99 on a two-year contract. More info can be found at EchoByKyocera.com.
NEW YORK (BUSINESS WIRE), February 07, 2011 – Sprint (NYSE: S) and Kyocera Communications Inc. today announced the first dual-touchscreen Android™ smartphone, Kyocera Echo™, exclusively from Sprint. This Android-powered device features two high-resolution 3.5-inch WVGA touchscreen displays connected by a patent-pending “pivot hinge” that enables the two displays to operate independently, side-by-side or combined to form an oversized 4.7-inch (diagonally) integrated display.
Until now, a single screen on a smartphone could only be used to complete one task at a time, even with limited multitasking capabilities available on some smartphones. Kyocera Echo’s second screen provides the ability to do two things at the same time and get more done – send an email on one screen while surfing the web on the other, watch a video on one screen while texting on the other, comparison shop online with one web site on each screen and so much more.
Images and video of Kyocera Echo’s dynamic design in action are available now at www.echobykyocera.com. Pre-registration begins today at www.sprint.com/echo.
In its closed position, Kyocera Echo is a pocket-friendly, single-display smartphone. When opened, Kyocera Echo reveals a revolutionary new platform for wireless multitasking and gives customers a new level of versatility in Android. Its innovative hardware and optimized software enables consumers to use the touchscreens in four unique ways:
- Single-Screen Mode with all the functionality of a single-display, touch-screen smartphone.
- Simul-Task™ Mode with two of the phone’s seven core apps (messaging, e-mail, Web browsing, phone, gallery, contacts and VueQue™) running concurrently but independently on the dual displays – e.g., reading e-mail on one screen and opening a text message on the other; checking Facebook® via the browser on one screen while looking through a photo gallery on the other; or even searching the Web on one screen and checking email on the other.
- Optimized Mode with both displays supporting a single, optimized app with complementary functionality and enhanced usability – e.g., composing e-mail on one screen with a touchscreen keyboard on the other; watching a YouTube™ video on one display while browsing and queuing additional YouTube videos on the other (with a preloaded Kyocera app called VueQue™); or viewing gallery images on one display while browsing image thumbnails on the other.
- Tablet Mode with one application spread across both displays for a full 4.7-inch viewing area. Tablet Mode is ideal for viewing maps, videos, websites, detailed documents, and long lists on-the-go.
“Sprint is proud to boast the most powerful Android portfolio available today and Echo adds to that legacy with industry-leading technology that will change the way our customers use smartphones,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. “Today’s busy schedules often demand that we do at least two things at once. Kyocera Echo is the first device that allows us to do a different task on each of two screens while also providing a tablet-like, larger screen experience that easily fits in a pocket when closed.”
Kyocera Echo will be available this spring for $199.99 with a new two-year service agreement or eligible upgrade and after a $100 mail-in rebate in all Sprint retail channels, including the Web (www.sprint.com) and Telesales (1-800-Sprint1). Pricing excludes surcharges and taxes.
“For years Kyocera has provided handsets to Sprint’s Prepaid Group and MVNOs, as well as to Sprint under the Sanyo brand,” said Eiichi Toriyama, president of Kyocera Communications Inc. “We value greatly our relationship with Sprint and we are thrilled that they have chosen Echo as the standout product with which to reintroduce its customers to the Kyocera brand. With Kyocera Echo, we are proud to give Sprint an iconic, industry-changing device that delivers an entirely new experience for smartphone users.”
Kyocera Echo also includes customized apps optimized for the dual-screen Optimized Mode experience including VueQue™, which lets users watch a YouTube video on one display while browsing, queuing and buffering additional YouTube videos on the other display. Additional applications optimized for the dual-screen experience include:
- Messaging and e-mail: Users can turn the device horizontally and use the top display to view the e-mail/message application while using the lower display as a full-sized virtual keyboard.
- Browser: Takes the browser experience of a standard 3.5-inch smartphone and enhances it, allowing users to view two websites simultaneously.
- Gallery: Users can scroll through thumbnail images on one screen while viewing an enlarged image on the other.
- Contacts/phone: Users can view more of the phone’s contact directory or an expanded virtual dial pad.
Beyond the dual touchscreen innovation, Kyocera Echo operates on the Android 2.2 system and has access to more than 100,000 apps in Android Market™ – everything from Facebook to Angry Birds. Additional key features include:
- Sprint’s nationwide 3G network and Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)*
- Wi-Fi hotspot capability, which supports wireless connections for up to five devices
- 5-megapixel camera with flash, autofocus and digital zoom
- 720p HD camcorder to quickly capture those on-the-go memorable moments
- Corporate (Exchange ActiveSync®) and personal (POP & IMAP) e-mail, IM (Google Talk™), text messaging
- Media player with a 3.5 mm stereo headset jack
- Stereo Bluetooth® 2.1 (+ EDR)
- Full HTML Web browser with Google Search™
- 1GHz Snapdragon processor (QSD 8650 Android)
- 1 gigabyte (GB) of onboard memory and an 8GB microSD™ card for the external memory card slot supporting cards up to 32GB
- Voice and text prompts in both English and Spanish
Kyocera Echo comes packaged with a spare battery (1370 mAh) and a low-profile charging cradle. Along with charging the spare battery independently of the phone, the charging cradle also can tether the spare to Kyocera Echo as an external power supply.
Additional Google™ features include Google Maps™, Google Talk™, Gmail™, synchronization with Google Calendar™, and access to Google Goggles™ to search with pictures instead of words. With Sprint, Kyocera Echo users have access to Sprint Zone™, providing one-stop wireless account access, phone tips, news, a list of top apps plus TeleNav GPS Navigator, Sprint TV and Movies® and more.
A Software Development Kit (SDK) and developer guide for Kyocera Echo will be available before the launch on the Sprint Application Developer Program (ADP) website at http://developer.sprint.com/android. The developer guide will provide details on developing for a dual-screen handset and Android 2.2 device. It also will provide information on how to take advantage of Kyocera Echo’s unique hardware and software capabilities on the Sprint Network. The Sprint ADP has been providing tools for third-party developers since Sprint first launched the Wireless Web on its phones in 2001.
Some competitors may offer lower prices, but Sprint customers get more with unlimited data while on the Sprint Network with their monthly plan. Sprint offers real simplicity, value and savings vs. competitors, making it easy for customers to get the most out of their phones without using a calculator to tally up costs or worrying about how much data they’ve used.
Kyocera Echo requires activation on one of Sprint’s Everything Data plans plus required $10 Premium Data add-on charge for smartphones. Sprint’s Everything Data plan with Any Mobile, AnytimeSM includes unlimited Web, texting and calling to and from any mobile in America while on the Sprint network, starting at just $69.99 per month plus required $10 Premium Data add-on charge – a savings of $39.99 per month vs. Verizon’s comparable plan with unlimited talk, text and Web, and $35 per month vs. AT&T’s comparable plan with unlimited talk, text and just 2GB of data (excluding Verizon’s Southern California plan; pricing excludes surcharges and taxes.)
Sprint Everything Data plans qualify for automatic enrollment in the Sprint PremierSM loyalty program1. Existing Sprint customers can switch to an Everything Data plan without extending their service agreement. New lines of service require a two-year service agreement.
An optional charge of just $29.99 per month turns on Kyocera Echo’s mobile hotspot feature, connecting up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as laptops, gaming devices and digital cameras, at 3G speeds anywhere on the Sprint 3G network (pricing excludes surcharges and taxes).