As you may have guessed from the title, I figure I'll let you know what I think about the Echo while you're here (alternatively, if you don't care what I think, scroll on down for the poll). (For those who need to familiarize themselves with the device, here's the official announcement.)
So, two screens for the price of one - that seems to be Sprint's angle with the Echo. After a completely unrelated appearance by David Blaine at its big launch event today, America's comeback carrier debuted this circus freak of a handset. Reactions have been, shall we say, mixed.
Sprint's primary thrust in its advertisements of late has been 4G (which the Echo quite perplexingly lacks), particularly since the release of the "world's first" 4G smartphone, the EVO 4G. It was an overnight success story for Sprint, and riding high on the EVO slam dunk, someone at Sprint apparently decided it was time to get "revolutionary," and I'm sure they did it using a lot of fun corporate buzzwords like "simul-tasking." Sprint should really think about getting that one trademarked.
And in the rich tradition of product decisions that come from board rooms and marketing departments instead of drawing boards and design teams, the Echo has emerged: an incomplete, compromise-ridden bastard of a concept. A concept that someone (or some group of someones) at Sprint apparently liked enough to force into production and put a big, fat flagship sticker on.
As with any concept, once it's been given the green light for production, the strategy becomes clear: compromise. It has two screens, so twice the cost of your average phone display. Processor? We'll stick with a previous generation chip. 4G? Too expensive. Front-facing camera? Nope. Big battery? Won't fit, we'll just make them carry two. In the battle to maintain a $200 subsidized price point, Sprint has forced Kyocera into building a phone that's little more than a mobile DeLorean: ugly and futuristic on the outside, slow and outdated under the hood. Well, the DeLorean wasn't cheap, so I guess points to Sprint and Kyocera on that front.
I know for a fact many people were holding out for a Sprint iPhone announcement today, in hopes of getting in on Sprint's competitive smartphone plans. Personally, I thought we'd at least be getting something 3D with the Blaine appearance - there's nothing about two screens that says illusion. Even though I readily admit my hatred of 3D, I think it would have been vastly better as a gimmick on a phone than the dual-screen hunchback of Notre Dame we were treated to today.
Sprint should already be writing this stillborn handset off and getting ready for the next big thing at CTIA or MWC, because somehow I doubt there are many Sprint customers feeling enthusiastic about their next upgrade.
Image from CNET