Sprint promised us an "industry first" at its event today, and it certainly delivered: check out the Kyocera Echo, the first dual-screen Android phone. That's right, dual-screen -- that's two 3.5-inch 480 x 800 displays which can be unfolded and used as a single 4.7-inch 960 x 800 surface. The screens are connected by a slick sliding liquid-metal hinge that Kyocera's filed several patents on -- the phone can be closed and used like a regular single-screen phone, unfolded all the way, or propped up into the faux-laptop configuration shown above. Under the hood there's a 1GHz second-gen Snapdragon running Android 2.2 -- we'll forgive the older software because Kyocera had to do extensive customization to add dual-screen support to seven core apps like the browser, email, and messaging. The seven optimized apps can be run on each screen individually so you can have the browser up top and email below, and several of them include useful full-dual-screen views as well. There's also a new dual-screen app manager, which is brought up by tapping the two screens simultaneously. Unfortunately, third party apps can't be run in any of the new modes and just fill the entire display for now -- Kyocera and Sprint say an SDK is coming shortly.
Interestingly, the Echo doesn't really run the optimized apps simultaneously when you have two of them open -- it quickly switches them in and out of hibernation, even though they're both displayed on screen. That means you can't do things like watch a video while writing an email, for example -- it's an odd limitation, but it seems like it'll only be an issue in limited circumstances. As for battery life, Kyocera and Sprint aren't giving definite numbers, but we were told things would last about a day with heavy use of both screens -- and the Echo is being sold in a bundle with a second battery in an external charging case, so you should have plenty of juice on the go. Downsides? Well, it's not the most attractive phone we've ever seen, and we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that there's just a lone rear-facing 5 megapixel camera with 720p video capture and that the Echo is 3G-only -- there's no WiMAX, which is a bit odd for a Sprint halo device. Still, it's definitely one of the most intriguing Android handsets we've ever seen, and at $199 (after a $100 rebate) when it launches sometime in the coming months, it's bound to pique some serious interest. Check a short hands-on video after the break.
Update: So the simultaneous apps thing appears to somewhat complex -- we weren't able to run a video and email when we played with the phone during our briefing, but Sprint's Fared Adib was able to do it when we ran into him during the launch event. We'll post that video soon -- and of course we'll dig deep into this when we get a review unit. One more thing we noticed: none of the devices we saw in action had pinch-to-zoom enabled anywhere, which is obviously very strange. We were told that the software is still early, so we'll have to see if it makes it into shipping product.
Update 2: It's attack of the press materials! New images, video, and release can be found below!
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Kyocera Echo, Exclusively from Sprint, Revolutionizes the Android Experience as the First Dual-Touchscreen Smartphone
Two screens connected by an innovative pivot hinge offer the ability to complete two tasks at once, taking the ability to multitask to a powerful new level
Available this spring for $199.99 after mail in rebate; Visit sprint.com/echo to pre-register and check out images of the only Android phone with two screens
Kyocera Echo(TM), exclusively from Sprint, shown in Simul-Task(TM) Mode (Photo: Business Wire)
Kyocera Echo(TM) shown in Optimized Mode with VueQue(TM) application (Photo: Business Wire)
Kyocera Echo(TM), exclusively from Sprint, shown in Standard Mode (Photo: Business Wire)
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.
Kyocera Echo(TM), exclusively from Sprint, shown in Simul-Task(TM) Mode (Photo: Business Wire)
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).
About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 48.8 million customers at the end of the third quarter of 2010 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, Common Cents Mobile and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 6 in its 2010 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation's greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.
About Kyocera Communications Inc.
Kyocera Communications Inc. (KCI) is the headquarters for Kyocera- and Sanyo-branded wireless products and accessories in the Americas. The company's devices are driving the convergence of telecommunications, broadband and multimedia. KCI was formed in April 2009 through the combination of Kyocera Wireless Corp. and Kyocera Sanyo Telecommunications Inc., two wholly owned subsidiaries of Kyocera International Inc. The former was created when Kyocera purchased QUALCOMM Incorporated's consumer wireless phone business in 2000, while the latter was formed when Kyocera purchased the wireless phone business of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. in 2008. Based in San Diego, KCI leverages Japan's history of creating advanced consumer technologies around humanism and respect for the environment and blending them with a Western entrepreneurialism and style, resulting in a unique design language and a natural, user-friendly interface. For more information, please visit http://www.kyocera-wireless.com or follow the company on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kyoceramobilephones.
Kyocera Corporation (NYSE:KYO) (TOKYO:6971) (http://global.kyocera.com/), the parent and global headquarters of the Kyocera Group, was founded in 1959 as a producer of fine ceramics (also known as "advanced ceramics"). By combining these engineered materials with metals and plastics, and integrating them with other technologies, Kyocera has become a leading supplier of telecommunications equipment, office-document imaging equipment, solar power generating systems, semiconductor packages, electronic components, cutting tools and industrial ceramics. During the year ended March 31, 2010, the company's net sales totaled 1.07 trillion yen (approximately US $11.5 billion). Kyocera marked its 50th anniversary in 2009, and the 40th anniversary of its U.S. operations. It is ranked #554 on Forbes magazine's 2010 "Global 2000" listing of the world's largest publicly traded companies.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Please visit www.sprint.com/newsroom for the product fact sheet and downloadable images.
1To qualify for Sprint Premier Silver customers must have a 3-month average monthly recurring charge (MRC) of individual plans of $69.99 - $89.98
*Sprint's 3G network features peak download speeds of 3.1 Mbps and peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps, average download speeds between 600 kpbs and 1.4 Mbps. No one has a more reliable network than Sprint based on a recent 13-city 3G performance test. PC World's test included Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in 13 major cities in all regions of the country during December 2009 and January 2010. In all, roughly 9,000 individual tests of Sprint's 3G service were conducted from 280 testing locations in 13 cities. Testing sessions were one minute in duration per location, and network performance can be highly variable from neighborhood to neighborhood. In laptop-based tests, Sprint tied with another carrier for first in 3G network reliability.
© 2011 Kyocera. All rights reserved. Kyocera, Simul-Task and VueQue are registered trademarks of Kyocera Corporation. Exchange ActiveSync is a registered trademark of Microsoft. Android, YouTube, Android Market, Google Talk, Google, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Googles are trademarks of Google Inc.; use of these trademarks is subject to Google Permissions. Bluetooth mark is owned by the Bluetooth SIG Inc. and any use of such mark is under license. microSD is a trademark of SanDisk Corporation. Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc. All other marks are properties of their respective owners.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6601680〈=en