Kyocera Echo - Measuring this year's hottest smartphones
Price: $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate
Carrier: Sprint Nextel
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In a market where devices are blurring together and many smartphones represent one black slab after another, the Kyocera Echo from Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) offers a definite refresh.
The Echo has a patent-pending pivot hinge that the company said will enable the smartphone's two displays to operate independently, side-by-side or combined to form a 4.7-inch integrated display. The gadget has four distinct viewing modes:
- Single-Screen Mode, which acts like a single-display touchscreen smartphone;
- Simul-Task Mode, which displays two of the phone's seven core apps running concurrently but independently on dual displays;
- Optimized Mode, which allows both displays to support a single, optimized app; and
- Tablet Mode, which allows one application to be spread across both screens for a full 4.7-inch viewing area.
In one sense, the Echo is a way for Sprint to regain the initiative in smartphones, and Sprint needed something flashy to reignite the brand. The device is, so far, Sprint's only major smartphone launch of the first quarter. To that end, the Echo offers customized, pre-loaded apps that are optimized for the dual-screen. For example, VueQue lets users watch a video in one display while browsing, queuing and buffering additional videos in the other.
Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said the Echo has "one of the most innovative form factors I've ever seen--it's a concept phone brought to life."