Sprint launches dual-screen Android smartphone

The Echo's two 3.5-inch screens are stacked on top of each other but slide apart for a wider viewing area and are capable of running separate apps

Sprint has launched a new smartphone that runs Google's Android OS and has two 3.5-inch touchscreens that can be viewed side by side.

The Echo smartphone, made by Kyocera, has two screens stacked on top of each other that slide apart to create a wider viewing area. It was announced at a Sprint event in New York City Monday evening.

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The screens will be able to run separate applications, said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. For example, a user could surf the Web on one screen and check email on the other.

An application can also be split across both screens. One screen can show an email inbox, for instance, while the other shows the contents of an email. Or a user can scroll through a library of videos on one screen, with playback on the other.

Kyocera has developed a YouTube application that lets a video play on one screen while the user queues up the next videos to play on the other screen.

A single application can also be spread across both screens to extend the viewing area. The gap between the screens is narrow so the app still looks fairly smooth.

The phone runs Google's Android 2.2 software and is powered by a 1GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm. It will be available in the spring (around April or May) for $199 with a two-year contract on Sprint's network.

Sprint didn't say how long the battery will last, but it said it will include a spare battery to extend the run time of the device.

The Echo also has a 5-megapixel camera and can shoot 720p video. It comes with a gigabyte of memory and an 8GB microSD card. It will run on Sprint's 3G network as well as WiFi hotspots.

A Kyocera spokeswoman said there are no current plans to sell the Echo internationally.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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