5 of the most unconventional Android devices ever launched
Back in 2011, Kyocera decided that a phone with just one screen can get boring fast. Enter the Kyocera Echo, the world's first dual-screen smartphone.
The Kyocera Echo - available in the US as a Sprint exclusive - came with two separate 3.5-inch displays that could be used either together or independently. For instance, you could make the two displays work in tablet mode, where they function as a single 4.7-inch screen. Alternatively, the user could run two distinct apps on the two displays, one of the first shots at true multitasking on a smartphone.
Although an innovative device, the Android 2.2 Froyo-based Kyocera Echo was plagued by poor battery life, an awful build quality, and tons of lag. For more details about the handset, make sure to check out our Kyocera Echo review.
Since we're at the dual-screen segment of this article, it should be noted that, just months after the Echo was launched, Sony came along and introduced the Sony Tablet P, the first dual-screen tablet.
Samsung, as one of the world's leaders in mobile display technology, is heavily invested in curved-screen smartphones, having launched a bunch of them in the past couple of years. The first curved-screen Samsung phone was the Samsung Galaxy Round, a high-end phone with beastly specs and a horizontally curved display. The Galaxy Round was the first of its kind, but it was also a limited-edition phone that only few people were able to get their hands on.
Fortunately for the rest of us, Samsung did not settle with a vertically curved smartphone and has since launched the Galaxy Note Edge, the first phone with a curved edge, the Galaxy S6 edge, the first phone with dual curved edges, as well as the Galaxy S6 edge+. All of these newer Samsung phones were mass-produced and available for purchase in most markets around the globe.
Unconventional doesn't even begin to describe the Sharp RoBoHon, essentially a small, cute robot that's also a smartphone.
Unlike any other smartphone, the Sharp RoBoHon is designed to act much like a humanoid assistant. Although the RoBoHon is operated primarily through voice commands, it also comes with a tiny display that can be used just like any Android smartphone. The RoBoHon can even follow you around a bit, and also integrates a pico-projector, just like the next device on our list.
Although smartphone displays have evolved towards larger form factors - hello, phablets! - over the past few years, the limited screen real estate usually restricts our experience when it comes to watching movies and shows in the company of friends and family. Back in 2011, Samsung came up with a partial solution to this constraint, and launched the Galaxy Beam, the world's first smartphone to integrate a pico-projector.
The 15-lumen pico-projector on the Samsung Galaxy Beam was able to mirror the smartphone screen at a resolution of 640 by 360 pixels. While it didn't feature the crispest resolution, especially considering the large diagonal size of the projected "screen", the Galaxy Beam added a little spice to the Android ecosystem. While it looks like projector-ready smartphones have failed to take off, at least the idea is already out there for manufacturers to improve on and for customers to grow fond of.
We've already talked about curved-screen smartphones, but it turns out that Samsung's cross-town rival, LG, has quite a unique and unconventional phone series as well. The original LG G Flex landed back in 2013 with two very unconventional features: an horizontally-curved display that can actually flex (hence the name) as well a back cover that can automatically heal from minor scratches.
The follow-up product, the LG G Flex 2 maintains both of these features, but improves on the product overall through a more compact form factor, a sharper display, as well as much faster internal hardware.