Sprint announced a new 3G phone today that has us seeing double. Yes, it’s an old joke, but if there a time to use it this is that time. While little is known about the Sprint Kyocera Echo, we can admit it looks pretty cool.
From Kyocera’s specification sheet we know this new 3G phone will run Android 2.2 across two WVGA high-resolution 3.5-inch touchscreen displays. The coolest part is one screen pivots closed over the other, hiding it underneath. This is novel as most folding phones either slide one half over the other, or place them in opposition like a book. To take advantage of all that screen real estate, there will be apps designed specifically for the phone. Note: these “core” apps are the only ones which can be run simultaneously, using one on each screen, or using the full 4.7″ combined spread.
The screens are configurable based on what you’re looking to accomplish.
- Tablet: The most obvious use, by laying the hinge flat we can consume multimedia and get the full 4.7 inches.
- Optimized: Similar to the Nintendo DS system, this is where the bottom becomes a touchpad or keyboard, and the top is a text message, game, VueQue and the like.
- Simul-Task: The most interesting use, where one task (ex: camera) runs on the bottom screen while another (Facebook) runs on the top screen.
- Single-Screen: The simplest mode, the top screen hides the bottom, turning your dual-screen monster into a regular Android phone.
While the pixel rating is for these “high-resolution” displays is not yet known, we do know the Sprint Echo will have a 5 megapixel camera capable of recording 720p HD video. The camera will have digital zoom capability and is paired with a flash.
The Sprint Echo will also be able to share its Internet connection with up to 5 devices as a WiFi hotspot (with a monthly surcharge).
To power the 4.7″ of visual glory is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, an accelerometer, GPS antenna, digital compass, a proximity sensor, a light sensor and the kitchen sink. Except for that last one, we made that up.
The phone also contains a full HTML browser supporting Flash 10.1 that is optimized to run across both screens, and expandable microSD memory up to 32GB. No word yet on how much RAM it might hold.
Ultimately, we don’t know how we would feel about a large black bar running down the center of the screen, when using the Tablet Mode for a single task (like movie watching), but the Optimized Mode has been successful with the Nintendo DS for gaming so why not the Sprint Echo? We are most intregued by the option to run simultaneous tasks in Simul-Mode™ even though we’ll be limited to core apps.
Overall, with instant messaging, texting services, notetaking, eReading and other more creative app uses, the dual-screen setup to could prove to be quite ingenious. The phone will launch at $199.99 (after a $100 mail-in rebate, two-year agreement, an Everything plan + data and $10 premium charge – whew!)
Set to launch: Spring 2011. To keep informed on the release of the Sprint Echo keep checking with GeekBeat.TV, or to sign up with Sprint for more information visit their Echo website.