Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

Summary: Sprint had the opportunity to wow a New York audience with news of an amazing new smartphone that could potentially make millions (OK, maybe thousands) of people forget that Verizon's iPhone will hit retail shelves in a few short days.But that didn't happen yesterday.

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Sprint had the opportunity to wow a New York audience with news of an amazing new smartphone that could potentially make millions (OK, maybe thousands) of people forget that Verizon's iPhone will hit retail shelves in a few short days.

But that didn't happen yesterday.

Credit: CNET

Credit: CNET

Instead, Sprint came across as, well, desperate. The company pumped up a special event to announce the new Kyocera Echo smartphone, an Android-powered, dual-touchscreen device that brings a new buzzword - simultasking - to the smartphone stage.

But even a special appearance by magician David Blaine - who opened the event with some underwater illusions - wasn't enough to distract anyone from what this device won't have.

For starters, the device is a 3G phone - which is pretty much a poison pill that will ensure that the device is dead on arrival. After all, the HTC Evo, which is still the most touted phone in Sprint's portfolio, is running 4G. Why would anyone drop $200 on a device and, more importantly, commit to another two years of 3G, when 4G is rolling out now.

Second, there's no front-facing camera, which is a big deal if you're comparing it to the iPhone or latest 4G Android devices. How are you supposed to have video conversations on one of those two screens if you don't have a front-facing camera?

Finally, the device comes with an extra battery and a special charger, which means - of course - that the primary battery leaves a lot to be desired.

For more details, see CNET's live blog coverage of the event and review

So, in a nutshell, you're looking at a battery-sucking, 3G Android device with no front-facing camera that isn't even out yet and won't be until some time in the Spring. Is that changing the minds of anyone who was thinking of switching to Verizon to pick up an iPhone that can actually make - and hold - a phone call? I doubt it.

It's unfortunate that Sprint chose to hold a splashy event and drop all that cash on a New York City venue and an appearance by David Blaine when, in all honesty, this phone is a dud.

Sprint has a chance to really elevate itself with its unlimited everything plans, differentiating itself from the others who are struggling with how to maintain control over the amount of data that customers are using.

But Sprint and Kyocera blew it on this one. The Kyocera Echo is offering something interesting and unique with its dual touchscreen device - but unfortunately, that's the only thing that raises the bar on this device.

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Topics: Telcos, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, Wi-Fi

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24 comments
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  • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

    I agree with some of this article, but I don't think it's a matter of "either buy this phone or switch carriers and get an iphone." In the range of phones out there, this falls somewhere in the middle, yet very unique, like Kyo.
    Bai Ganyo
  • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

    They should make their smart phones better than those of the Verizon so that they may atttract many customers. I think verizon is the best of them all. - http://fms.nu/eebAHz
    dreana
    • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

      @dreana Verizon's policy's and pricing are outrageous. In terms of Total Cost Of Ownership among a tier one carrier, Sprint blows away Verizon and AT&T even with the $10 surcharge
      mchinsky@...
  • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

    verizon is the best of them all. It should not be compared with any other phone no matter what. http://fms.nu/eebAHz
    dreana
    • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

      @dreana I beg to differ... Sprint by far has the best plans bar none! Any one of their customers will attest to that, myself included. Their phone selection is pretty good as it is, but just wait until MWC and CTIA in the next few days and weeks when they drop the big guns.

      And as for Verizon being "the best", Sprint and Verizon share the same Voice and 1X data towers the only thing they have separate are 3G and 4G data and I'm not complaining...
      gruvmyster01
  • Too bad for sprint.

    I am afraid I have to agree with he writers on this one. Sprint really screwed up with this opportunity. I was hoping to hear an announcement of the WP7 or a tegra2 based device, or at the least an android device with with a 5" screen putting it between the evo and the tab.
    tommcd64
  • You should take a look at Sprint's facebook wall..

    The customer base is NOT happy. Hey Nintendo called, they want their DSi back. They would have fared better to announce Chapter 11 bankruptcy..

    [b]Edit:[/b]Lets not forget Sprint started the event 10 minutes late. Par for the course for them.
    JT82
  • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

    Some parts I agree with, some I don't. I like the phone, I think its a great concept and has a lot of potential with the dual screens. But Sprint did screw up with not making it 4G which will cost the same as 3G on their network. I could understand people not wanting it on a Verizon network because when they roll out the 4G they are going to jack the prices up where as Sprint keeps things about the same. What I don't agree with is the author pushing the iPhone which is a 3G device as well. Nothing is going to change an iPhone fanboy's mind about getting that phone anyway.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

      @Loverock Davidson
      Thanks for the comment. I actually wasn't trying to push the iPhone. I was implying that this device would be compared to the Verizon iPhone simply because of timing. Sprint made this "coming soon" announcement the same week that the Verizon iPhone was going on sale. Why? Because they were hoping that there would be enough excitement around it that some people might pause before rushing out to buy the iPhone.
      sldiaz
      • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

        @sldiaz
        Everything gets compared to the iPhone nowadays.
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

        @Loverock Davidson Nothing new there, been going on for 3 1/2 years now.
        non-biased
    • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

      @Loverock Davidson
      I don't usually agree with what you have to say; but this time, you comments were spot on. While the phone itself is a bit ugly and could use some refinement, I actually like the concept. And the article does focus on comparing it to the iPhone (and I understand the author's argument here); but if people want the iPhone, it doesn't matter what would have come out, people are going to get the iPhone - in my experience, people are usually buying it for the brand, not so much for the phone itself. It's pointless comparing it to the iPhone coming out, regardless of timing.
      NetAdmin1178
      • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

        @NetAdmin1178

        ...which says a lot about the thinking at Sprint or Kyocera. Why make this announcement this week and subject yourself to all of the comparisons instead of waiting to release the news until the product is almost ready to ship. Don't these marketing types have these sorts of conversations before booking a NYC venue and booking David Blaine?
        sldiaz
  • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

    <i>"But Sprint and Kyocera blew it on this one. The Kyocera Echo is offering something interesting and unique with its dual touchscreen device - but unfortunately, that?s the only thing that raises the bar on this device."</i>

    I still wouldn't call that raising the bar. Is there really a need for dual screen phones? This is more gimmicky than 3D tablets (and 3D phones, TVs). What's next a phone that makes ice-cream?
    dave95.
    • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

      @dave95.
      There may not be a need yet. Key word is yet. If someone can find the "killer app" to take advantage of it then yes the need will be there. I like this phone in theory, the dual screens could be quite useful if developers can make use of them the right way.
      Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

        @Loverock Davidson I think the "killer app" for this phone would be a DS emulator... ZING!
        jmwells21
      • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

        @Loverock Davidson For me, the killer user experience of this moves closer to what you have on the desktop. I would like to be able to easily cut/paste something from say Tweetdeck to Google Maps without the insane context switching you have to do now.
        AnthonyGadgetX
      • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

        @Loverock Davidson
        agree 100 percent. "Yet" is the key word.
        sldiaz
    • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

      @dave95.

      Yes! This smart phone has a special port on it for attachments like a whisk so it can do double duty of reading email/watching netflix while whipping up a killer omelet.
      VRSpock
    • RE: Sprint chokes on opportunity to raise the smartphone bar with Kyocera Echo

      @dave95.
      "Is there really a need for dual screen phones?"
      A need? - No. Is there utility in the concept? - Most definitely. If for no other reason, this concept shares one advantage physical keyboards have over touch-only phones: conserving screen real estate when typing. In addition to that, consider other possible uses as a variable input device, like a game controller.

      While I don't know that using the second screen to expand the display is that big of an idea, having a second screen available offers some great possibilities - ask anyone with multiple monitors.


      "This is more gimmicky than 3D tablets (and 3D phones, TVs)."
      While I'll agree the whole 3D concept is just that, a gimmick; I disagree that the dual screen concept is merely a gimmick - As I stated above, this concept actually offers utility.
      NetAdmin1178