Sprint held an event today in which it unveiled a very interesting new phone, the Kyocera Echo. What makes the Echo unique is that it features two 3.5" 480x800 touchscreens, making it the world's first dual-touchscreen smartphone. The two screens can combine to form one massive 960x800 resolution, 4.7" screen, or be set up in the laptop-style fashion as seen in the photo. You can even close the device and use just a single screen. The sliding mechanism for the screens is something Kyocera calls a liquid-metal hinge, which it has filed several patents on, and seems to operate smoothly. Powering the whole thing is a 1GHz second-gen Snapdragon processor though no mention was made of how much ROM or RAM. There is 1GB of internal storage plus an included 8GB microSD card in the external slot, though you can expand that with up to a 32GB card. The phone is running Android 2.2 which Kyocera had to extensively customize to utlize the two screens.
There are seven core apps that have reconfigured to use the dual screens, apps like the Internet browser, email, and messaging. You can have a digital keyboard on the bottom screen and have the top screen display what you are typing, or have the browser appear on both screens for a much larger experience, or even have email open on the lower screen and the browser on the top. However, third-party apps use the entire display though Sprint and Kyocera say an SDK is forthcoming so other developers can utlize the dual screens. There is even a dual-screen app manager which is accessed by tapping on both screens simultaneously.
The phone uses Sprint's 3G network instead of the faster 4G WiMax one, but that shouldn't be too much of a hassle for most. There is a five megapixel camera with flash on the rear and you can even record in 720p with it. The Kyocera Echo will be available for $199 after a $100 rebate when it launches in the next few months. Sprint will sell you an extra battery pack and charging dock as well, though Kyocera expects the Echo to hold a charge for over a day with use.