07
Feb
P1000598_1_610x458

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Kyocera into building a phone that's little more than a mobile DeLorean: ugly and futuristic on the outside, slow and outdated under the hood.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.

What do you think of the Kyocera Echo?

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Image from CNET

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Jason

    Problem = I am a Sprint customer right now :/ but I'm moving to Verizon with the Thunderbolt, a REAL Android phone!

    • http://anasqtiesh.com Anas

      Yeah, because the Evo, Evo Shift, and Epic (sigh, Samsung) are made of playdough.

      • http://www.ericcamil.com Eric

        That can't be..I've had my EVO since the day it was released and I swear it doesn't taste or smell like playdough....

    • LMAO @ Jon

      Jealous @Jason. Very good move. The Echo is an embarrassment for Sprint. Developers won't waste their time with the dual display development. I'm with Sprint and I'm embarrassed.

  • tomhierl

    It's an awesome idea, but the device itself looks ugly and unfinished.

    Too bad the better manufacturers (HTC, Samsung...) never come up with such ideas.

  • Jose

    I'm so embarrassed to be with Sprint right now. Thinking about going to a different company.

    • James

      I know, right? And what was the point of having Blaine there? Definitely a fail in my book. Ugh.

      • LMAO @ Sprint

        I'm totally embarrassed and I'm with Sprint too. Once my EVO contract is up, sayonara Sprint!

        • Carolyn

          Yep, head on over to one of the other carriers for a tiered data plan or throttled bandwidth. Hmmmm, keep my Evo and great pricing or go get a great looking phone that I can't use....what to do? See ya later, my bandwidth just got better. I love you Sprint! Please, release ANOTHER phone that no one wants, I'm behind you 100%.

  • Jose

    I thought it was going to be an HTC phone they were going to announce today. I think it would have been better if they announced a Blackberry.

  • Kane

    WTF was up with Blaine, seriously? No magic-like properties were unveiled, no 3D - nothing. 2 screens? Industry first? If they released a turd on a stick, it'd also be an industry first. Give me a break.

    • D.G.

      Dude you had me laughing my ass off!

      • Moonie17

        Hahahaha same i actually laughed out loud at work!

    • Moonie17

      Turd on a stick..... love it! I would be first in like to buy one of them...... NAT!

  • Daniel Greer

    Disappointed to say the least. We already get wretched battery life with anything more complicated than a flip-phone. Do we really need another screen eating juice? Not really. I should be surprised that Sprint pulled a rinky-dink rabbit out of their hat, but I'm not.

  • http://www.boombappz.com BOOMBAPPZ

    WTF.
    THAT'S WACK .
    I WANTED A DUAL CORE HTC.
    ANY CORE WOULD DUE.
    AND GINGERBREAD.

  • Sdkippy

    They laughed when Jobs introduced the first i pad twenty years ago. Google it.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      That doesn't make a 20-year-old iPad any good, does it?

    • James

      You mean the Newton? I don't think Jobs introduced that... he killed off the project when he returned to Apple. Just sayin'.

  • Ronthegentleman

    Calm down every one, as a sprint customer i too am very disappointed, but you gotta understand that this is what companies do. try to beat out each other by taking chances on new technologies. I would never touch this device, but I am not ashamed to say I am a sprint customer because of it. I applaud the ambition our company has. When we got the evo last year it changed the game, no other android could touch it and it still holds its own against devices recently announced. So I have faith that before the summer sprint will give us the (htc/dualcore/android) killer phone we desire. As far as the eco...it was a nice try, another android device on the team is never a bad thing

  • Eric

    While I think that, right now, dual screens are not a good idea, think about this. Honeycomb is introducing fragments. Things that are meant to be displayed separately. Give it a year or so, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a dual screen phone that took advantage of fragments to display one on each screen. That might be cool, especially when the power to run them both is dirt cheap.

  • reggie bonez

    This announcement was a major fail! I was expecting an android tablet (preferably with honeycomb) since everyone and their step-cousin is cominf out with one! An update for the evo to gingerbread would have been equally as awesome. Instead we get a damn high end "flip-phone" from a low end old school company. I thought someone bought then desolved that company back in 2002....wish it was so. I really hope they got David Blain on a discount. If they are paying him in phones and offered him this miniature Nintendo DS...he prolly turned it down and asked for an evo....and to burn his number!

    • http://www.ericcamil.com Eric

      Update from EVO to Gingerbread see Cyanogen 7 and more than a dozen other roms out there.

  • http://stuarthalliday.com Stuart Halliday

    We'll only get proper twin, foldable screens if OLED ever fulfills it's promises.

  • MadErod

    I believe they really missed the boat on this one. Optimized? I hardly think so. If they had Cisco, Adobe or Google as partners and announced a business conference capable mobile phone that used one screen for sharing info, docs, or pics during video chat. Then I'd be impressed. Dual-core? No? Front facing camera? Come on. 4G at least? Wtf? This is the only phone i know that took one step forward and two steps back.

  • Carolyn

    It was a failed attempt for sure. However, they got people talking and guessing and that's important. Until Sprint can release a phone that surpasses my Evo, I really don't care what they do. I am not disappointed or sad to be a customer. As a matter of fact, each time I see my bill and data usage, I grin! No way am I leaving Sprint.

  • Andrew

    This will only work with a flexible AMOLED screen that folds from a candybar form factor to a small tablet. Two separate LCD screens is ridiculous.

  • http://www.ericcamil.com Eric

    The only thing I can see coming out of this is a Nintendo DS Emulator. That's it.

    Last years technology no WiMax or LTE and no front facing camera is just a shame.