REVIEW: Kyocera Echo, Is Two Screens Better?

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The Dual Screen First Thoughts

A 5 inch over all screen open and create a huge viewing area, closed, still a great viewing area. Dual screens and apps to match, does this make it a gimmick or an every day phone? That is what I have been finding out over the past few weeks.

The Looks

I mentioned before that it is a dual screen, what does that mean? Is it a tablet? What is it? Well it is a bulky beast when it is closed, but you open it up and like I mentioned it is nearly 5 inches, I believe it is 4.7 inches to be exact. One screen folds out from under the other and creates this space.

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The Hardware

A 1 GHz Snapdragon powers the phone, it is powerful indeed, it is no dual core but one of the better phones out for sprint, it also has an 8 GB microSD and it supports up to 32 GB. There is also 512 MB of RAM as well as 1024 MB of ROM. The device is certainly solid and isn't weak for sure. I am pleased with it, it comes with SimulTasking abilities which is about eight apps that when both screens are pressed on those certain apps, it will allow to apps to be run at once. There will be more on this later.

The Screens

This device has two screens, they are 3.5 inches each, together, with bezel etc you end up with 4.7 inches on both. I ended up liking reading on this device, being able to see google reader and twitter on dual screens is great. Moving apps from the top to the bottom isn't possible without a lot of work, widgets are easier but still take work. The middle bezel makes things difficult, it is so small but so definitive.

The  Battery

I was NOT happy with this, they gave me two batteries, I expected there to be a great deal of battery power, but I guess SimulTasking costs battery. Maybe a huge screen takes a lot of battery because I needed two 1370 mAh batteries to get me through a day if I used it as my primary phone. Which is to say that if I solely used this and not any other phone, about 4 hours into my day I changed battery! I have said it before and will say it again, I am a POWER USER! I have facebook set to every 4 hours, twitter to every 4, two gmail accounts and about 500 or more news articles a day coming through reader. It gets used a LOT. It seems that dual screens probably takes up a lot, I know that on other devices with bigger screens they require bigger batteries to power them.

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The Operating System/Software

Android 2.2 with no real extras or special software is what powers this. It is basically a stock experience with no bells or whistles and that is good by me. I am not a huge fan of extras, and this phone keeps me happy there. SimulTasking is a pretty big part of it all, but it does not add unnecessary pieces. SimulTasking is pretty cool, the apps that utilize it for now are:

  • Browser
  • Contacts
  • Email (not gmail)
  • Gallery
  • Messaging
  • Phone
  • VueQue

All of these can be used with one another, you put the messaging app on the top screen and then the contacts app on the bottom, or if you want to email/message a friend about the link you just read in the browser, that is doable too! However, there are just not enough instances where I used this, when I did want to talk about a link I just saw it took the whole phone to do it because the browser suddenly became the keyboard and the whole phone became messaging.

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The Keyboard

 

There isn't a hard keyboard, but there may as well be. There are two soft keyboards provided, they both take up the bottom screen when used. One is a stock keyboard that is really nice, the keys are HUGE, the other is swype and it works well on the bottom screen. In fact, both work rather well, it is one of the things I like about this device. The keyboard is great and big.

The Browsing,  Camera and Video

Browsing is cool, it uses both screens. An app can extend pretty much everything across two screens and all apps I tried worked really well. Google reader, browser, chatting and messaging worked well, both screens got utilized. Facebook, youtube and Gallery were cool. I don't think they were specially made for the phone (maybe browser was), and they extended in such a way that you were able to see pictures on the bottom and a big picture on top of the Gallery App. Facebook was similar when in the home menu, you could see pictures on the bottom and your options on top. The same can be said of youtube, the video you were watching on top, comments and favorites etc on bottom. It made it so you didn't have to turn it sideways or hold it straight up and down, you just used the device like you would want to.

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The Call Quality

My calls were great, the speaker is good, speaker phone isn't as good but the actual phone speaker is good. Sprint offers good service in my area, at least on this device. The kernel or whatever it may have been was great and made this device work for calls and data.

Summary

Pros:

  • There is a 5 mp camera on the device, it records 720 p
  • Calls were good
  • Dual screens are awesome in certain times
  • Video was awesome to watch

Cons:

  • Dual screens suck at times
  • The battery is an issue
  • I was saddened by the outer speaker

Images

Conclusions & Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for a new Sprint phone and can't wait for the new Evo or whatever else they have coming in the next few months or if you want a tablet but can't afford a tablet or don't want two devices. This is for you. It is a tablet, it is a phone, it is 5 inches and it is pretty great.

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I have had many different phones over the years and rooted them all. I write mainly write reviews about phones for the site but at times I also write about apps. I became interested in Android after the Droid 1 came out but have since used the G1, Evo 4g, and Nexus S as my own. I was one of the lucky few who bought a touchpad as well, it is now running android.

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