American wireless carrier Sprint unveiled Kycore Echo, the world’s first dual-display smartphone, at a news conference in New York that featured illusionist David Blaine who shared the stage with Sprint’s boss Dan Hesse.
"Extreme multitasking can be magical," Hesse said, revealing giant Kyocera phone wheeled out on stage that flipped and folded open to reveal dual screens.
The device "smashes the last barrier between you and the ultimate mobile experience," says the carrier on the mini-site. The Android 2.2-driven phone packs in two high-resolution 3.5-inch WVGA touchscreen displays, each at 800 by 480 pixels, and patented pivot hinge design that makes possible a combined 4.7-inches of screen real estate to run your apps.
Yes, that’s 800 by 960 pixels when opened. The displays can operate independently, side-by-side or combined, so you can run multiple apps on each smaller display independently or on the combined 4.7-inch "display".
And when you close it, Sprint says, it’s just a "pocket-friendly smartphone." Hardware-wise, the Echo is a regular high-end Android phone. Powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor with 1GB RAM, the Echo weighs in at 193 grams and packs in 3G and 802.11 b/g WiFi with hospot capability (requires an optional $30 a month wireless tethering plan), a five-megapixel camera on the back with flash, autofocus and digital zoom and the ability to capture 720p clips, a 3.5 mm stereo headset jack, stereo Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 8GB of storage expandable via an SD card to 32GB, and more. Full spec list is available here.
The two screens allow for interesting multitasking scenarios. For example, you could be emailing people on one display while surfing the web on the other. Or, imaging watching a video on one while texting on the other or comparison shop online with two web sides side-by-side, each on its own display. The Simul-Task mode lets you run two apps concurrently, one on each display. This requires that apps be designed for dual-display functionality and the phone’s seven core apps are. Third-parties can enhance their apps with dual-display support by using Sprint’s software development kit.
The messaging and email app lets you turn the phone upside down and use the top display to view the message at hand while using the lower display as a full-sized virtual keyboard. The browser allows you to view two websites simultaneously, the gallery app puts thumbnail images on the upper screen and an enlarged view of the current image on the lower screen, while the contacts and phone apps let you switch between more of the phone’s contact directory or an expanded virtual dial pad.
There’s also Kyocera’s own VueQue app that lets you watch a YouTube clip on one display while browsing, queuing and buffering additional YouTube videos on the other display. The phone will be available this spring for $199.99 with a new two-year service agreement or eligible upgrade and after a $100 mail-in rebate. You can pre-register now at sprint.com/kyocera.