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Kyocera Echo on sale now, we go hands-on again

Since Sprint got magical in New York a while back, I've been itching to get my hands on a Kyocera Echo. Look, we know many of you scoff at the Echo, but that's not fair unless you've had a bit of time with it.  I'm a gadget nut.  I'm a smartphone nut.  I'm an Android nut.  I want to check out all the latest Android phones, but show me something unique and I'm there.  The Echo -- which is available today for $199 after contract and $100 rebate -- fits that bill with its two screen setup, complete with applications that can take advantage of them.  Hit the break for some video, some pictures, and some Jerry talking about the Echo.

YouTube link for mobile viewing

Pretty neat, ain't it?  I'm sure it will have it's fair share of bugs and quirks, but it's certainly unique.  I can't judge too much in just a short time using it, so any serious thoughts will have to wait for a full review.  You can see a few things from the video that are really awesomesauce, and some that are annoying to say the least. 

The bezel between the screens is going to bug me, I can already tell.  There's a chance I'll get used to it in a few days, but I know myself and I doubt it.  I understand there's no other way to do it, but that doesn't make the darn thing any smaller.  The touchscreen seems pretty snappy and smooth though, and yes, accidentally tapping buttons while flipping open the screens is annoying, but I'd rather have the responsive screen than not.

Besides the normal single screen phone way (that's so 2011), there's three cool ways to use the Echo.  It flips from portrait to landscape in either mode, but it's much more impressive with both screens flipped out.  It's a big square screen that shows a lot of information in an app like the browser, or with two "Simul-task" compatible apps.  Check out the video to see that in action, it's works quite nicely.  But what reeled me right in is the tiny-laptop mode.  Get used to hearing me say that, cause it's so cool. 

The folding magic mechanism hinge thingy is solid.  I was concerned at first that it would break, until I found out it's made of metal and not plastic, and the phone itself would probably break before the hinge would.  Once you have the screen flopped open, the hinge slides in and snaps together with a satisfying click, and the unit feels fairly solid.  And has a big black bar between the screens. 

The hardware look and feel is better than I expected.  It has an industrial look with the chrome accents on the black matte shell, and every thing fits nicely.  While it's folded into a single screen, it fits nicely against my ear, and feels substantial.  When I said it was two Zios stuck together, I was way off base.

I'm gonna fool with this one for a week or so, then we'll see how right or wrong my first impressions really are with a full review -- which I promise won't be a thousand words about tiny-laptop mode.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Although it has some neat possibilities, I still think it is proprietary enough that it will have a short life with little or no updates. It is also doubtful that any software writers will ever take the time to write any apps that take advantage of the dual screens. Love the included charger/battery pack thing.
  • I am not a hate filled as most, but running the 2 screens and multiple apps on 2 screens with last gen harware seems to be a stretch. If this had some dual core awesomeness I would be more intrigued. After stuttering through the last year with a Moment/Intercept I am terrified of getting something that will suck.
  • I'm really excited to play with it, and then decide between this or the Nexus
  • This phone looks super sweet.
  • What the heck? Why would your decision be between a nexus and THIS? Why not an Evo 3D?
  • Honestly, its mostly that I'm bored with Sense, and am also worried about the 3D.... frequent migraines.
  • I have heavily criticized this phone and that is just my opinion. The reason this will not do well is one of the reason many gadgets fail... design and aesthetics. I don't think manufacturers understand how much looks and design play a part in people's buying decision. For many people, a phone is very personal and is not just the thing that makes calls.
    Hire someone to specifically work on design and the Echo 2 may be a hit if they dare to do a sequel
  • That is my opinion too, but different strokes for different folks.
  • funny story - i was at radio shack and asked the (totally un informaed) employee when the nexus s 4g was coming out. He responded with "i dont know but the kyocera echo is about a week away. you can pre order that" I then said "Oh, that gimmicky joke of a phone? ha no thanks" .... he was demoralized. His expression alone told me he pre ordered the first day. I felt like a jerk but then asked how many pre orders they had taken. TWO! we can barely get correct honeycomb / tablet support for apps (i know its early) ... we dont need another segment to water down android phones.
  • Right, because everyone should get the phone YOU think they should have.
  • His expression was probably due to you being such a jerk. What did you expect him to say? "I don't know...AND WE HAVE NO OTHER PHONES THAT WOULD SATISFY YOU SO I WILL STOP BEING A SALESMAN"
  • Why do you take such great pride in demoralizing someone Radio shack is not just a phone store and you cannot expect him or (her) to know everything you want them too.
  • Pretty dick move bro.
  • Your name should be randomjacka$$ rather than what you have currently.
    You should go back to the RadioShack and apologize to him.
  • Yeah im sure it really ruined his day?? Never seen so many people come to the defense of a radioshack sales associate over a harmless comment that had no bad intentions! Especially with the terrible information they throw out. Making people download task killers on their phones, pushing their crappy $30 chargers, pushing their "extended warranties", and just being generally mis-informed about products. furthermore, I said i felt bad for being a jerk. I honestly didnt think anyone would like that device. Plus, when this phone first came out im positive almost every one laughed at it and degraded it on this exact site. GD, you are all so judgmental ... settle down!
  • I'd like to see you with a retail job, taking shit from people day-in day-out. Then maybe you'd be a little more understanding. As for the phone, just because you didn't think people would like it, doesn't mean nobody will like it. You are not the end-all-be-all of everything. Learn some respect, you sound like an iPhone fanboy. "No other phone is as great as this phone, all other phones are just laaaaaaaaaame."
  • I decided to register here just so I could reply to your comment regarding the RS employee. I also work at RS which often gives me a special position to see not only what is happening the world of consumer electronics but also how aware and interested the typical person is in the rapid and vast changes that are taking place. Most of our store's clientele are geriatrics waiting to die and thus have zero interest in learning anything new. Quite often a phone means a cordless land line unit along with actual bitter hatred towards the cell phones. We also have a small group of people who are right on the cutting edge of tech and are able to see the vision of several communication devices that will handle most everything. Maybe a full sized tablet along with a powerful Android O/S to stick in their pocket. The middle bunch of customers know something big is taking place but really aren't interested in trying to articulate where they are. They want to text a lot, do some "things" on the Internet and make calls occasionally. Asking a RS associate at this point about the Echo is a waste of time since none of us have actually seen one in the real world. We had a training several weeks ago but the real opinions will begin once we get feedback from buyers and sites like this one. At $199 this phone isn't going anywhere unless it seriously smokes. The EVO, Epic, Optimus, Atrix, Inspire, My Touch 4, Galaxy 4 are all great phones. Plus, we have the G2 2X in the few days which I suspect will be a rockship. We don't sell Verizon but I have customers with the new Thunderbolt and it seems like a killer phone too. Kyocera is not a name associated with quality and cutting edge so let's wait and see what happens. And don't make fun of your local Shack guy/gal.
  • ever time i see this phone make me think this came out of a Nintendo DS if it had sex a Kyocera phone.
  • Hope it's not a mail in rebate. Going on 5 months for my Epic with no check, third one sent and never received. The Mumbai CSRs are clueless. Hey Sprint if your reading this your outsourced "cost cutting" measures are costing you money because I will get my money even if I have to file in small claims court.
  • First, did you send the first one in on time? Second, did you try calling the REBATE department instead of just customer care? Third, just because you get answered by an indian-american, doesn't mean they're an outsourced csr.
  • How do you know it was an Indian-American and not a Indian Indian? I know the last time I got someone with an Indian accent, when calling Sprint, I asked where they were and they told me they were in India. Sprint also uses centers in the Philippines too.
  • They also have three call centers located in the cities surrounding the world headquarters. In Kansas. Get over it.
  • This is probably the most innovative phone on Sprint this year. 3D is not as attractive and this looks pretty fun.
  • Agreed. Recording in 3d might be interesting, but it'll be fun to see what apps get developed for this and how it evolves!
  • Battery life?
  • I guess its neat, but if i already have a 4.3 inch thunderbolt with a kickstand so sort of like a laptop to me....i don't need i can see this thing has some lagg.....i mean it has what a first gen snapdragon i think? maybe the second....i can't remember but thats going to be hard to power....and i don't like switching batteries etc. This thing just isn't for me.
  • Personally, I could see a huge advantage if I were able to use slingplayer or video player on the top screen and answer texts and emails on the bottom screen. From the hands-on, it appears only pre-approved apps can use both screens at the same time. Technically, this may not be possible with the gen1 snapdragon, but sure would be more convenient than app switching and having to restart slingplayer every time.
  • Flash vids will play on one screen. So those of us with PlayOn, for example, will be able to watch Netflix and Hulu on one screen and simultask. Pretty neat!
  • You know, for an "android community", a lot of the people here really suck. "Oh man, you suck because you have {insert phone here}. My {other phone here} is so much cooler/better because I say it is and you are such a loser/noob." They're phones. People like different things. Would you tell someone your shirt is so much shirtier than theirs? Or your hair looks so much cooler? People will enjoy the Echo, and some won't. So if you don't like it, don't get it. Don't bash others or Sprint just because it doesn't appeal to you. Not everything in the world is made specifically for you, but some of your are so damned lifeless and self-centered that if everything isn't just the exact way you want it, you act like a little kid screaming because his mom won't get him a new toy. And the same thing with updates. If your phone works and you can do everything you need to on it, an update won't really change that. I guarantee 80% of you are barely using 40% of your phone's capability, but you'll still complain that you don't have the update that gives you another 10% of functionality you won't use. Seriously, we need to all start acting like ADULTS and not whiny little children.
  • This. I agree 100%. At times the comment sections seems like we are in engadget. We are all on the same team here. The whole beauty of android is the amount of choice you have when looking into a phone. Why chastise someone if they like something different than you.
  • My shirt is so much shirtier than yours. ;-) I played with the echo last saturday at a store. it was laggy, unresponsive and gave me two fc's. cool idea, poor execution.
  • aye, everyone of our demos in our store is always afflicted by the same things. Which is why I always tell people to not trust the demos as an example of the devices. I'm surprised half of them haven't blown up by now.
  • I was playing with a demo unit in radio shack and it actually feels really good. It does look better in person than in pictures. The hinge is actualy realy good too. I would be surprised if battery life was any good. I personaly wouldn't want it but it could be a neet concept if software works well. Its not bad
  • I looked at one also. I don't think the battery would stand up to what I'd be trying to do with it, and it's too big for my taste. Maybe in an office, if it didn't LEAVE the office it would be reasonable for my use.
  • I played with it for about 20 minutes today, and I was really impressed. Transitions are quick, and the seam didn't bother me really. It feels really solidly built. Most of all, it was just a neat, fun device. People can complain about it, but the general shoppers at my local Sprint store were blown away by it.
  • When he opened the browser and top, while having the text messages open on the bottom, the phone auto opened the keyboard. This closed the web browser. That would piss me off. It should have an option for using the keyboard and text field on the same screen while maintaining the contents of the other screen...
  • It covers the browser while typing, but doesn't close it. When you're done, you can hit the back button, and the KB goes away, and the browser is back.
  • I don't know, I think this thing is pretty cool.
  • I think this phone could rock with some slight tweaks, hopfully they put in the 2nd gen model. if they could have rounded this phone off a bit and tossed in a dual cord and 1gb of rom. also make the screens 4 or 4.3. then the big thing, dont advertise it as a tablet phone, advertise it a a multitask phone with tablet like features, the line throught the middle kills it as a tablet but would be really cool to watch a movie and text or surf the web or a million other things. really dont even need apps to use both screens. not a bad start I look forward to the 2nd gen. just my 2 cents
  • The screen, when it's in dual screen mode and flat (not the mini-laptop config) can click closer together and lock so the gap between the screens is MUCH less than was demonstrated in this video. Pinch zoom should work if both your fingers are on the same screen (for web browsing, etc) - pinch zoom is part of the Android default functionality. Why these things weren't shown in this hands-on I don't know. Personally, I think these kinds of dual-screen phones will be more prevalent once battery life can measure up.
  • Pinch zoom definitely wasn't working when I used it today.
  • HAHA to all the haters that have been relentlessly besieging this phone for the past couple months. Looks like all your predictions about the phone bringing death and destruction to our world were a little grandiose--to say the least. In fact, I'd say the opposite; I'd say it's off to a propitious start. The phone seemed to impress Engadget--who gave the Echo an 8/10--which is higher score than it gave the galaxy phones, on par with the Droid X and Incredible, and only one point lower than the Evo and Atrix. HA HA haters. Ha ha. :)
  • *** BEWARE OF RADIATION POSIONING*** Several days after the Fukushima earthquake, I read this document on the Kycocera global website, which is now conveniently missing from the website. TITLE: Regarding the Effects of the Japan Earthquake on KYOCERA Group Operations
    DATE: March 24, 2011 --- BEGIN EXCERPT ---
    KYOCERA Corporation, Fukushima Tanagura Plant (Higashi-shirakawa, Fukushima Pref.)
    Production items: PHS handsets and base stations
    Damage: Partial damage to the building and equipment
    Production status: Production resumed from March 15
    --- END EXCERPT --- I have called Sprint many times asking about the manufacture dates of this device, but Sprint employees just won't say a word. I called Kyocera in Japan, but I reached a similar impasse. Based on this document, can anyone HELP ME understand if the Kyocera Echo has radiation posioning because it is manufactured in Fukushima? I think Sprint (namely president Dan Hesse) should post a notice attesting to the device's radiation safety.
  • have you thought that they "won't say a word" because they have no effing clue what you're talking about? pretty sure they'll be scanning ALL imports from the affected areas for radiation, not to mention they probably ALREADY do that just as general customs work. calm down.
  • Who are they getting to do these reviews? What is the deal with the hands bro? You are putting them on film get a manicure or something. The left thumb looks like it was caught in a car door, and your right index finger has a freshly lanced wart on it. I don't even want to address the right thumb. Come on guys clean it up its distracting.
  • Wait, let me get this straight. Your write only to complain about fingers? You do realize he was reviewing a phone, right?
  • This phone is cool but it's not for me. I am waiting for the Nexus S to hit Sprint.I also noticed his fingers, jeez dude you really need to get that fixed. Do you work with sheet metal in your spare time?
  • bro how shallow are you? do you have a fetish for a mans hand? i was looking at the phone....... i do not know about you? i mean if there was dirt underneath his nails or something, i could kind of see your complaint.. wow - do people like this seriously exist? if so put me on a stranded island.
  • It doesn't seem to be any more of a gimmick device than the EVO 3D. I'm waiting to test drive both devices.
  • Surprise, Surprise....I am shocked to see for the most part the comments about this phone is civil vs just a week or two ago and all the ranting and raving I went and played with one of these and I almost walked out with one.
    Then I remembered that i had Sprint last summer and an Evo and I thought about how such a great phone on a bad carrier(in my opinion) so i left it there. It looks a lot better in person and the screens are pretty cool with and responsive and it is a fun device. I may bite the bullet and give sprint a chance if Verizon doesn't announce my Xperia play before the end of April.
  • Jerry the hinge gap gets smaller. You have to click the screens to each other after you open it all the way.