After a pleasing unboxing experience, we wanted to take a more in-depth look at the hardware of the Kyocera Echo. As the first dual-screened smartphone on the market, we were very curious as to how Kyocera put all the pieces together to provide the user with one or two screens on which to watch movies, check email, and much more. The hinge lets you position the two screens in one of three ways. The first is the single-screen view, where you can use the Echo just like any other Android phone. The second is the tilted-screen view, which provided a comfortable angle for typing (since the Echo will place a near full-screen keyboard on the bottom keyboard in certain situations). Unfortunately, the tilted-screen view doesn’t lock in place, making the top screen move unnecessarily as you try to use it. And finally, there is the flat/tablet view, which moves both screens together to create one large surface with 960×800 usable pixels over the dual 3.5″ WVGA displays. While Kyocera tries to minimize the size of the bezel between the two screens, you still see an annoying black divider between the two displays when in tablet mode.
In terms of specs, the Echo comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz single-core CPU, which has 512MB of RAM and about 500MB of usable ROM. The Echo ships with an 8GB microSD class 4 card for extra storage. On the back there is a 5MP camera with flash, but there is no camera on the front. In terms of wireless radios, you have 802.11 b/g, plus EVDO Rev A (no 4G).
The Echo is ugly, there’s no doubt about that. It has a brick-like squarish design that is weak on fit and finish. In-hand, the device actually feels pretty high quality, probably thanks to the substantial weight (at 6.8 ounces). The hinge that makes the dual-screen design possible seems to be robust enough to take thousands of movements over its lifetime.
Ergonomically, the Echo is a bit awkward. It’s nearly impossible to open or close the second screen with one hand. And even when you slide open the second screen, the action is deliberate and not smooth.
In the box you get a couple of accessories. Since you’re powering two displays, you know battery life isn’t going to be great, which is why the Echo comes with two batteries, and an external charging mechanism to make it easy for you to keep a second battery charged. Also included is a screen cleaner, since you have two times the number of screens to keep clean.
In the next video we’ll talk in detail about the Echo handles running two apps on two screens.