The Kyocera Echo: Dead on Arrival?

I have been of a mind since I started writing that there is a purpose for each Android phone that has been made to date; that there are those who would choose that device and enjoy it. You have your superphone users, those who are only interested in something just over the feature phone line, and the budget users among others. I have always supported that each device has a home. Unfortunately, I was proven wrong last night at Sprint’s release of the Kyocera Echo.

Where do I begin? Specs are probably a good place to start. The device is running essentially the same hardware as the Nexus One, with it’s 1GH Snapdragon and 512MB of Ram. The 1GB onboard storage is kind of nice, but not much in the grand scheme. The Snapdragon WAS a decent processor in the Nexus, but it’s GPU troubles place it out of the superphone category with competition like the Mytouch 4G or even the G2 or Droid X. Looking at this phone that can’t really compare to it’s now year old room mate at Sprint, the Evo. Combined with it’s lack of Wi-Max and no battery life to speak of, what’s the redeemer here?

The Echo appears to be running the closest thing to Stock 2.2.1 possible given the circumstances. There are six apps that have been optimized for the dual screen optimization, and the rest of the OS appears without any kind of overlay. 2.2.1 is still a little aged, given the 2.3’s SDK has been out for a little bit now, and to date Kyocera has not updated their previous Android devices, so I don’t see this really going to 2.3. I suppose this is not really a redeemer… sorry guys.

The battery, now their’s a nail in the coffin. The phone comes with two batteries, and a special charger that allows you to charge the phone and the spare battery at the same time. There were those at the event that saw this is a good thing. I will remind you they were serving alcohol. Now, when I walk into a store, and the associate offers me a second battery, I consider that to be polite and may even consider it, since I have been known to abuse my phones. When the manufacturer hands you a second battery with the undertone of “You’re going to need this” that’s a red flag.

So, underwhelming specs, an upgrade path that could be described as unlikely at best, and battery life that is likely to resemble my old Samsung Blackjack. There’s no real reason this device exists right now. If anything, it is as if David Blaine’s real magic trick last night was to pull this device from October 2009, where it would have been celebrated. Instead, since it’s being sold at $199 on contract, I believe the Kyocera Echo is already swimming with the fishes in David’s illusion tank.

  • ZptZ

    I agree. I really thought that Big Dan was making an April Fool’s joke when he announced this product. I think the Kyocera execs got him drunk and pulled the contract out and he had beer goggles when he saw this thing the next morning he realized he had coyote ugly syndrome and no way to back out without chewing his arm off. Thanks for reminding me of the name of the other crap phone Sprint had, the Blackjack. I was thinking of that phone when I realized he was serious. Sad Sprint. You gave away all the mojo you had built up with the Epic and Evo and blew it on the ugly chick.

  • JokeyRhyme

    Lack of WiMAX? WiMAX might qualify for “4G”, but it wasn’t designed for mobiles. You’ll drop connections if you move much, and it sucks battery life like nobody’s business. I’d consider it a plus not having WiMAX. LTE is where it’ll be at.

    The lack of updates would bother me. Especially with this sort of low-level customisation, there’s really never going to be an update for it. And did Kyocera release the source code for their modifications? Very hard to justify going out on a limb with these sorts of changes. Why not wait until Google does side-by-side applications properly with a developer SDK and everything?

    I have to agree, overall. I’ve been telling friends to hold their mobile phone purchases until April, and even if an emergency replacement was required it would never be this.

  • Doug S

    Stop sugar coating it Russell
    Tell us what you really think!

  • oldtaku

    The hinge is fairly clever and less obtrusive than I expected – they should take that and put it on a decent phone.

    The kicker is that the two apps on top and bottom screen aren’t really multitasking – they’re being alternately hibernated (put in background) and woken up rapidly. You can argue that is mostly what any multitasking boils down to but this is being done at a very crude and inefficient level.

    Add that to no Android updates ever and the dozen apps, period, that’ll support the dual screens and I have no interest in this at all – except the hinge.

  • Nick

    You know literally every site I go to that talks about this phone they are putting it down. You can’t blame the companies for wanting to try something new. I think it’s an awesome concept. And yea they could have put a dual core processor and a WIMAX radio in it, if you wanted to pay almost four hundred dollars for the phone. You guys need to give it a chance. Just because it doesn’t say HTC, Motorola or have a cool name like the Evo 4G doesn’t mean it can’t be a good product. On the battery if you remember the Samsung Instinct came with an extra battery in the box. That phone sold like crazy ( I would know I worked for Sprint at the time). So it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to have bad battery life maybe they are just preparing it for how much people use their phones today. Also you talk about upgrades. There are other companies that are making the consumers wait on upgrades when they are already promised the upgrade. You haven’t even given Kyocera or Sprint a chance to shed light on the subject.

  • oldtaku

    The problem with updates on this phone is the amount of customization. If you get one of the ‘standard’ phones (Galaxy S) then you’ve got half a dozen ROMs or more to upgrade to when Samsung drops the ball on updates. How many xda people are going to be making custom ROMs for this thing with all the Echo features? As long as there’s one then I’d feel a lot better about this phone. Or maybe Kyocera will ally support it – but they’ve got a bad history on that so far, so for now we’re being fair in assuming they won’t, I think.

  • Goldni

    This phone will sell like hotcakes. Why? The masses wont know (and don’t care) about all of the things we informed/techie early adopters know about these sort of things. Just look at the news of early sign ups for the Verizon iphone. IT’S LAST YEAR’S iPhone!! 3G technology!

    The sheep don’t care about dualcore. Or 2.3 Gingerbread etc. What Sprint’s mistake was was making a big anouncement and hype for this phone. It’s gonna be a really good midlevel phone for Sprint. They should sell for what it is. Not another cutting edge super phone.

  • Russell Holly

    Let’s go ahead and drop the Wi-Max argument, alright? The simple fact is that Wi-Mag is Sprint’s next gen network. It’s not the best, and we all love LTE, but Sprint has no active plans to deploy LTE over Wi-Max anytime soon, so it’s more than reasonable to to assume that new “superphones” on Sprint would have Wi-Max.

  • CzechPleez

    Anyone who reads AndroidGuys blogs, forums and articles knows that you guys are totally in a bro-mance with VZW. Okay, we get it. But dead on arrival? Are you serious? Give me a break.

    This is a game changing device. Period. Don’t think so? NEC, HTC and several others all have dual-screen Android devices in development and prototype stages…but can’t get them out of alpha or beta stages. Why? Dual screen is the next frontier, friends. Kyocera is the first mfr to offer a true dual-screen mobile device with multi-tasking. Game changer by any definition.

    You criticize the hardware and specs…for being equal to other devices votes as ‘best of’ in many critic’s lists. If you’re going to criticize the Echo make sure you throw in digs to your beloved Droid Incredible or Droid X.

    You mock the ‘Simul-Task mode’ as being limited. But if this device were made by Apple and touted as having “True multi-tasking” (even though the iPhone’s “True multi-tasking” only applies to a half doz native apps) then you’d be waving the flag high and long.

    • Hey Czech, it does come down to specs, have you seen the video demo of this phone on Phandroid? The lag on the phone not to mention the lack of response when touching the screen is terrible. The processor is so overwhelmed it can’t catch up. Watch the video and see the guy “fly” at typing Thanks in an email…it takes him three times to get it right cause the phone lagged that bad.

      We over at completely agree with AndroidGuys.

      Well said.

      • What specs? Dual Core? Android OS doesn’t even use dual core to it’s fullest, that would be released in next Android OS, which is probably not coming out till next year..Processor can’t catch up? I was using it the other day, and it was smooth as can be,..probably cause your device wasn’t actually a finished device, go into a sprint store today, and try one out…it was a closed event for a reason…

  • This should do well for a mid level device for tweens.

    I can’t see power users purchasing this device when it is the same price as the Evo.

    Seems like the Android replacement to one of the messaging phones on the Sprint network.

    • Josh22

      The price has been dropped to $99, still too much? Get an upgrade from Amazon Wireless, and pay as lil as $0.01, I have used the Evo 3D and the 3D is a gimmick. plus the dual core sure is nice but google themselves that dual core phones aren’t using their true potential because android OS does not fully support it to its best, by next year, a new android OS might be out supporting it but, by then upgrades are available, really its either between all the 4G devices and this phone, and most people dont have 4G coverage, and with their new LTE plans, Wimax expansion is pretty much dead, new phones are going to come out with the new LTE radio, and buying a 4G device right now isnt smart at all..and if ur talking about the OG evo, please don’t these screens are was better, they have the same resolution on a single 3.5 inch screen, so images are super crisp, my brother has the OG evo and comparing them, I would choose the Echo’s screens anyday…plus its expandable to 4.7 inches…still bigger than the evo’s screen..

  • Josh22

    you got the same resolution of the og evo  and most new phones on a 3.5!!! inch screen, a 1ghz processor? this is a dual screen phone, not a gaming phone, its pretty much well said, very rarely is multitasking done while playing games…battery life? its a issue with the radios on the phone, a simple fix is just turning on and off airplane mode,..2.3? im pretty sure in the future, if there is enough support, there will be a cm7 port…this phone wasn’t meant to be in the spotlight as a powerhouse or a gaming phone, sprint made it obvious, it was a closed event, and not at their keynote, its is an addon to its mid level phones, which include the evo and the epic, plus has the highest resolution and screen size that i know of (4.7 inch, 800*960)…btw i dont have the phone, but have used it and it runs smooth as can be…

  • Yourgay

    The phones actually pretty fucking great. i chose this over the evo and the epic ane glad I did

  • Bugginuenmb

    I enjoy my Echo, battery life is way better than my Transform, Moment, Mogul, and Touch pro.

  • Bugginuenmb

    I enjoy my Echo, battery life is way better than my Transform, Moment, Mogul, and Touch pro.