Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
I was finally able to get my hands on the Kyocera Echo. And after using it for a few days, I found that most of the early reviews of the device were spot on.What makes the Echo stand out is its dual screens. The phone flips open (on a surprisingly sturdy hinge) and lets you control your phone in what Kyocera calls “Tablet Mode.”
I liked doing this for apps that took advantage of the dual screens such as The Sims 3, but the web browser and most other apps are a bit awkward to use in Tablet Mode. Because the phone flips open, you’re stuck with a bar in the middle of the two screens. It can get distracting.
Here’s what I thought:
- The phone is incredibly sturdy. When I first heard about the Echo, I was afraid it’s hinge wouldn’t be able to handle the abuse of constantly flipping open. I was wrong.
- Although there aren’t many, the apps that are designed to use both screens are excellent to use. I see huge potential here for gaming.
- When in Tablet Mode you can either flip the top screen so it’s flush with the bottom, or prop it at an angle. The latter configuration is great for texting or writing emails. The keyboard is at the bottom and your message is at the top.
- The dual screen system sucks down the battery pretty quickly. Kyocera seems to acknowledge this by including an extra battery and external charger with the phone. Keep those close if you end up buying the Echo.
- It’s thick and heavy. In a side-to-side comparison, the Echo (when closed) is almost twice as thick as the iPhone 4. That doesn’t make it very pocket-friendly.
- Apps that aren’t designed for the dual screens feel awkward with a black bar in the middle.
- The Echo is running the outdated Android 2.2 Froyo. Granted, most new Android phones are still running Froyo, but it’d be nice for someone other than Google to lead the charge with version 2.3 Gingerbread.
Should You Buy It?
Overall, the Echo is a pretty solid choice if you’re looking for an Android phone on Sprint. Just know that you can expect poor battery life, so keep a charger or extra battery on hand.
You can get the Echo for $199.99 with a two-year contract from Sprint.
You can flip the top screen open at an angle like this. It's the best way to type: Keyboard at the bottom and content at the top
There's a lot of potential here for games. It works a lot like Nintendo's DS. Controls on the bottom, game on top.
The single screen feels a bit small, especially at a time when most Android phones have 4-inch screens
Dual screens destroy the battery life. Luckily, Kyocera includes a free backup battery and external charger
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