Is the Kyocera Echo what you've been waiting for?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: February 7, 2011

Sprint's event in New York City, which we live-blogged for all of you out there, was a showcase for Sprint more than anything else. A showcase about technology and an "industry first." And, indeed, the Kyocera Echo is an industry-first, in that it's a smartphone that dropped the physical keyboard, and in its place put a second touchscreen display. In concept, a dual-display phone is something that many people would probably love to get their hands on, and I'll be completely straightforward when I say that the idea was certainly intriguing to me. However, now that the real deal has been made official, I'm sitting here wondering if that excitement was ill-placed.

The specifications of the device alone aren't enough to get me all that excited. The 3.5-inch dual-screen displays are nice, and have a resolution that I wouldn't mind looking at more than once a day, but everything else just seems . . . Middle-of-the-road to me. Especially now, as we look forward to more devices with a 1.2GHz processor under the hood, and even faster ones this year. That, and I was kind of shocked to see that there's no front facing camera. With the love of video chat/calling, or just the idea of having another camera, that's been going around lately, it's a feature that I find puzzling to see missing.

But in truth, even if the Echo had a faster processor, a front facing camera, and the absolute most latest version of Android (like 2.4?), I still don't think I'd be all that interested in getting my hands on this device. Not because I want a physical keyboard, because I don't. I much prefer a software 'board. But, it's the fact that I have to deal with two batteries. There's the fact that the device, as you can see from the image above, looks more like a Nintendo DS(i, XL, 3DS, take your pick) than a phone. And then there's the one thing that I really, truly can't ignore: and that's the fact that the device is manufactured from Kyocera.

I'm not going to sit here and say that Kyocera makes bad phones. Or terrible phones. But, let's face it -- they don't make great phones. And, with a device like the Echo, it needs to be great. Or, it needed to be great. Now that the device is already announced, I guess we can't sit here and say what it "needs" to be great. It's already coming. And, whether the majority like it or not, Kyocera's got bragging rights for being the first dual-display Android-powered smartphone.

Of course, this is just my personal outlook on the brand new Echo. The price point is great, especially for face value of the phone, and there's probably going to be plenty of people out there who pick it up, just so they can show it off to all of their friends. But, the big question is, will there be more people out there shying away from the Kyocera brand, and waiting to get their hands on some other device that will launch on Sprint's network in the future?

For me, I'm waiting. The idea is cool, even great, but the Kyocera Echo is not what I'm looking for when it comes to a dual-display device. But what about you? How do you feel the Echo stands up against the competition? Does the brand make any difference to you? Or are you someone who needs to have it because it will be the newest, coolest toy on the market? Let me know in the comments below.

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