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Sprint, Kyocera Ready Dual-Screen Android Phone

New York – Sprint
plans spring availability of the industry’s first dual-screen smartphone, targeted
to consumers described by the carrier as “extreme multitaskers.”

The Kyocera-branded Android smartphone, called
the Echo, uses steel hinges to convert from a WVGA 3.7-inch single-screen smartphone
into a phone with two side-by-side 3.7-inch touchscreens.

The 3G Android
2.2-based phone, due at $199 after $100 mail-in rebate, lets consumers use two
of seven core apps simultaneously — such as texting, email, web browsing,
contacts, photo/video gallery  and phone
calling — in a use case that Sprint called “simultasking.”

The phone also
lets consumers use one app — such as navigation or games — across both
side-by-side screens, delivering a combined touchscreen size of 4.7 inches

When both screens face
the user, they can be oriented in portrait or landscape mode. In portrait mode,
the two screens are side-by-side, and in landscape mode, one screen is above
the other.

The core apps are
also optimized for dual-screen use. An email in-box, for example, will appear
on one screen, and a preview window will appear on the other screen. One screen
will be able to run an email or text application while the other screen can be used
as a virtual QWERTY keyboard that’s larger than the virtual keyboards appearing
on other smartphones, the company said. User can also scroll through thumbnails
of videos or photos on one screen while the images appear full-size on the
second screen. Similarly, users can view a YouTube video on one screen and, on
the second screen, add additional YouTube videos into a queue for future viewing.

The phone looks
like a normal single-screen touchscreen phone when folded closed, but the
visible screen pivots up and over on its two hinges to reveal a second
up-facing screen. The first screen then locks into place to stay in the same
plane as the second screen. The screens, however, can also be angled to take on
a laptop-like look. In that configuration, the bottom screen can be placed flat
on a surface and used as a large virtual QWERTY keyboard while the other
display is used to read email or text messages.

Kyocera plans to
offer a software developers kit so app developers can create games and other
apps optimized for dual-screen use.

The phone, available
exclusively for Sprint-network use, will be Kyocera’s first Kyocera-brand phone
for Sprint’s post-paid service. In the past, Kyocera sold lower end
Sanyo-branded phones for Sprint’s postpaid service and Kyocera-branded phones
to Sprint’s prepaid-service group and to Sprint MVNOs. Echo is also Kyocera’s
highest-end phone to date for the U.S. market, Kyocera senior executive officer
Junzo Katsuki told TWICE during a launch event here.

As part of the
launch event, magician David Blaine smoked a cigar, poured and drank wine, and
performed magic tricks for many minutes while in a tank of water.

The phone,
upgradable to Android 2.3, features 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, Wi-Fi
802.11b/g, five-device hot spot, 720p video capture, rear-facing 5-megapixel
camera with LED flash, 1GB embedded memory, included 8GB MicroSD card, stereo
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, Google Talk IM, corporate (Exchange ActivSync) and
personal (POP and IMAP) email, and depth of about 17mm when closed.

The phone also
comes standard with a second 12370mAh battery and charger because the company
said it expects users to be heavy simultasking users.