Kyocera Echo Review
It’s been a while since we saw a truly unique product, especially on the hardware side. Looking to establish itself as a real player in the game, Kyocera- nee, Sanyo- has introduced the Echo, the world’s first dual-screen phone. The Echo packs a pair of 3.5” displays on top of one another, then “flips” open and puts them together to create a 4.7” mini-tablet. This Android 2.2 device sports some top-tier specs, like a 1GHz Snapdragon processor with 1GB of ROM and some questionable ones like no 4G or front-facing camera. As the first of its kind you’re definitely going to pay the early adaptor tax on the Kyocera Echo, but just how steep is that and is it worth it?
Included with the Echo Kyocera has included an 8GB microSD card, microUSB data and charging cable with AC adaptor and a spare battery and charging pod that can double as a charger on the go.
So, how exactly do they do it? How does the Echo transform (bet they wish they had beaten Samsung to that one) from a single, 3.5” 480x800 display into a dual display with an 800x960 resolution? It’s pretty slick actually; there is a spring hinge that sits between the two displays when closed, but when opened it flips out, providing a back for the top display to rest on which then clicks into place aside the second display. It’s easier to see than explain, so check out our video of it in action.
In this day and age of black slabs the Kyocera Echo is a refreshing change…but still a black slab. The glossy black front has gaudy chrome accents, and the rear is a very plasticy flat black with an ever so slight coat of soft touch. It can be a slippery device to hold, but thankfully for safety’s sake there is a lot of it to hold onto. The Echo clocks in at a rather portly 17.2mm thick thanks to the second display.
You can compare the Kyocera Echo with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
If you love Sanyo devices than the Echo will feel right at home to you and in fact it reminds us very much of the M1. The click in the hinge is back (aarg!), the aesthetics are way behind the times and there is a very plastic feel to the Echo. That said, the build quality feels pretty good so far. It’ll be interesting to see how the thin hinge holds up over time, but at least for now there is no play in it. We do foresee user error issues because the second display doesn’t instinctively click into place next to the secondary one, leaving it loose and prone to hinge damage. It can also be incorrectly used similar to the HTC Arrive, with the main display tilted up like a laptop.
A 480x800 display on a 3.5” screen leads to very crisp resolution, and 980x800 across 4.7” is quite nice as well. The displays do not seamlessly blend together, instead there is a black strip created by the bezels that reminds you of the TV wall of an electronics superstore circa 1995. It doesn’t take long to get over this however and the value of such a big display becomes apparent when browsing the web. The displays are prone to wash out in direct sunlight, but at the highest brightness are still usable. The colors are still a bit warm, but nowhere near as noticeable as the Zio was. At times it looks like the primary display is slightly cooler than the secondary one, but we’ve stared at it so long and still can’t come to a conclusion, so if there is a difference it is extremely minute.
Each display has a Home, Menu and Back set below it, but only one is active at a time (main display when closed, secondary when open.) We appreciate the capacitive buttons, but miss the search option and for aesthetics wish that the icons on the secondary display were rotated 90o.
The left side of the Kyocera Echo is super-busy. From top to bottom you’ll find: 3.5mm headset jack, covered microSD slot, power button, a volume rocker that’s too small, a covered microUSB port and finally a lanyard hole. The right side of the phone is part of the hinge mechanism, so it can’t be used, but it would have been nice to see some of those offloaded to the top or bottom of the phone, both of which are totally barren. The back of the Echo houses the 5MP camera and LED flash (housed in gaudy silver trim) and the phone’s single speaker, which is a bit weak on the media front but great as a speakerphone.
The hinge is a very cool mechanism that accomplishes something no manufacturer has ever done before, but overall we’re not very impressed with the design of the Echo. It is very thick thanks to the second display, but instead of minimizing that with tapered edges Kyocera stuck to hard lines. The displays are very nice to look at, but the rest of the phone reminds us of a poor knockoff you’d find in Chinatown. Kyocera may have been innovative, but is there a law that says they can’t be stylish as well?
The HTC EVO 4G (left) and the Kyocera Echo (right)
The HTC EVO 4G (top) and the Kyocera Echo (bottom)
1. Richard (unregistered) posted on 18 Apr 2011, 10:55 3 1
I bought the ECHO yesterday and absolutely love it!! The best part of the device is the email experience. You get a preview pane on the top and your inbox messages on the bottom. All you have to do is tap a new message and it is diaplayed on the top screen. This will save me a lot of time. I also like the ability to keep my email on one screen and browse the web on the other. I had email running on top screen last night with gamecast on the bottom. Like the review said, not bad for the first version but some room for improvment. I have always loved Sanyo and it's been a while since I've had one.
4. SprintJunk (unregistered) posted on 18 Apr 2011, 11:54 1 2
Don't count on Sprint to update the software, I have the Samsung Moment that they said would get updated to 2.2 and it did not.
Your review of this phone is exactly what I was expecting:
Hinge system will break in matter of weeks.
6. user139 (unregistered) posted on 18 Apr 2011, 13:51 3 0
Come on, the moment? The moment will never be updated to 2.2 the hardware wont support it. BUY A NEW PHONE. "Dont count on sprint to update the software"? Really? Dont count on customers to be educated. Buy a good device in the first place, do your research and dont think the technology is perfect. Try that first and then complain about your carrier. If your still using a moment, you shouldent even own a smart phone.
15. tomy2011 posted on 05 May 2011, 22:43 0 0
Hey, I agree with you about Sprint getting a 2.2 froyo for Samsung Moment. However, the phone is able to support 2.2 froyo. You can see that on XDA website. Thank you for your comment
7. user139 (unregistered) posted on 18 Apr 2011, 13:54 0 0
Furthermore, Have you had this device in your hands? No? Then dont comment on the hinge. Ive used this for about a week and it actually impressed me. Its not without its flaws, but far from junk. The last thing to break on this will be the hinge. Dont be ignorant.
9. Allday28 posted on 18 Apr 2011, 14:03 0 4
Ummm i did go see it today and its straight junk and ugly at that!!
14. downphoenix posted on 20 Apr 2011, 17:33 0 0
lies, Sprint never said it was gonna get 2.2, in fact, they were on the record and said no androids released before 2010 were gonna get 2.2, but all androids released in 2010 would get it, and they kept their word, as all android devices in 2010 either had 2.2 built in or got updated... eventually.
5. jovy121 posted on 18 Apr 2011, 12:23 2 3
If this phone said VERIZON on it instead of Sprint it would no doubt have a 9 out of 10 or possibly a 10 on it. Hey phonearena how much does verizon pay??? It looks like a good phone, It's not meant for everyone. It looks like its meant for teenagers. Not those super techy people.
8. remixfa posted on 18 Apr 2011, 13:54 3 1
lol really jovy? Everyone knows that PA is paid by apple to lick the crome clean on the logo every day.
Honestly, the phone got a higher review than i thought it would.
My only thing with the article is that they called a 1ghz snapdragon "top tier" when its lower mid tier now (my how fast things change..lol) when you put it beside a Hummingbird or anything dual core which is the new top tier.
10. Dre (unregistered) posted on 18 Apr 2011, 19:42 0 0
This review just sounds wrong to me, Cnet and Phonedog gave much better reviews and scores. This one seemed to just pick at any and everything.....kinda like every review PA has ever given to a android phone.
11. nick (unregistered) posted on 19 Apr 2011, 06:58 0 0
wait...what? 3.5+3.5=7. x_X
12. egraves (unregistered) posted on 19 Apr 2011, 07:53 0 0
The width of the phone is 3.5 for each screen so when opened you only get the 5. whatever
16. Ben (unregistered) posted on 17 May 2011, 01:47 3 0
the phone is awesome. the battery life sucks but i drive for a living so i am able to charge whenever. i have 30 days to decide if its for me or if i want the nexus s. im leaning towards keeping the echo. i read a few reviews that werent so nice before i bought it but i like to make my own choices. if i shaped my life from reviews id be watching the kardashians and listening to lady gaga. no thank you. read books, listen to real musicians, and dont believe everything they tell you. lol
17. saw22 (unregistered) posted on 18 May 2011, 20:01 0 0
hey my dad says that its not the hing that will break its the springs what do u guys think
18. saw22 (unregistered) posted on 18 May 2011, 20:06 0 0
o and how long does the battery last
21. MarkJ (unregistered) posted on 12 Aug 2011, 12:59 0 0
I've had the Echo from the very beginning (in fact 3 days prior to the official launch as a Sprint Premier customer). The phone has been fantastic!
It's now been 4 months of heavy use. The hinge is rock-solid still. I've also dropped the phone numerous times as well as had friends try to force close it thinking the hinge worked like a book. Nothing so far has phased the build on this phone. It looks like a brick and it's built like a brick. For me, that's good.
The only negative really is the lag. This I blame on RAM, processor, and internal memory. When the phone isn't loaded down with apps (after a fresh reinstall of the OS) it flies. (This is true for most any Android device.) After being loaded up with apps it lags quite a bit (also true of most any Android device). A dual core cpu and more RAM, not to mention on-board memory would go a long way in making the lag issue less of a problem.
The battery life is fine. I've had several Android phones with large screens (EVO 4G) and several webOS phones (which I loved and hated parting with) which all had similar battery life to the Echo. Calling the battery life abysmal is an exaggeration for sure! It's on par with every device I've owned, making the extra battery a major bonus! The two batteries combined get me through an entire day of regular use easily.
Now, for what's awesome about this phone. The two-in-one aspect of this phone is so, so great! It's a perfect sized ereader with a near 5" display one second, and seconds later, it's an iphone sized handset. Web browsing, games and books have never been more awesome. Throw in the 32gb card I've got and this is far and away the best all around device I've had in years!
23. madcowmilau (unregistered) posted on 14 Sep 2011, 08:22 0 0
Phone arena is great. CNET is the one who is bias.
Keep up the good work guys.
24. marcel123 (unregistered) posted on 26 Sep 2011, 12:31 0 0
Can someone tell me how to send picture mail on this phone..because i can send pictures but people dont recieve them.. i can recieve pictures but my picture say it is sent but the person does not recieve them someone help....