Sprint reveals Kyocera Echo: a hands-on report

We’ve just gotten the first look at Sprint’s newest 3G phone, the Echo from Kyocera. In place of a keypad, the screen slides out to reveal a second screen – and we really like it.

We were here in Manhattan as Sprint unveiled the device at a luxurious event that pulled out all the stops. As un-exciting as it may sound, this dual-screen phone actually looks really interesting.

First off, stop thinking about the Ninteno DS or the way your current phone slides out to reveal a Qwerty keyboard. The Echo was designed specifically so that when you pull out the phone to reveal the second screen, it latches together and creates a sort of mini iPad.

When put together, the display is about five inches diagonally, which makes it smaller than the iPad or Galaxy Tab, but bigger than most smartphones on the market. But because it folds down to a standard-sized phone, it is easily able to fit inside your pocket.

So, what can you do with these two screens? Well, there’s two options:

– Run each screen independently

Watch a Youtube video on one screen while browsing your e-mail on the other. Check Facebook on one screen and text someone on the other screen. It’s all seamless as both screens are completely independent of one another in this mode.

– Use specially programmed dual-screen apps

Sprint has worked with Google and other app developers to make special apps to take advantage of the dual screens. So, when you have both screens latched together, you can run Google Maps and see an expanded view of the map as compared to what you’d see on a Droid or Evo 4G.

Or, check your e-mail and read a conversation while your entire e-mail list remains on the other screen (kind of like Outlook with its different panes). Look at a photo while scrolling through your entire photo gallery. Of course, these apps need to be specially programmed for the Echo, but there seems to be a lot of these apps already created.

The Echo will be available in Sprint stores this spring for around $200 with a new service agreement. We’re a bit disappointed it isn’t equipped with 4G but it does have Android 2.2 and is certainly another unique device in Sprint’s recent history of special Android devices.