Kyocera Echo: $449.99 to $599.99 unactivated; $49.99 to $179.99 with upgrades, new activations and rebates
When Sprint launched the Kyocera Echo four months ago, it met with mixed reviews. Fans saw a versatile dual-display smart phone with four screen modes to feed their entertainment and multitasking fetishes. Critics saw a handset that was bulky, buggy and not so great with the battery. True, it's twice as thick and 50 percent heavier than the 4.5-inch screened Samsung Infuse 4G; but Echo's duet of 3.5-inch displays offers 9 percent more total area, along with the unique ability to simultaneously run side-by-side apps. And with last week's update from Froyo to Gingerbread (Android version 2.2 to 2.3), Echo just got a little less buggy and a little better with the battery.
This new software release installs Eco Mode, which helps Echo users manage battery life by predetermining a percentage at which the phone enters low-power consumption mode. At that point, the phone conserves power by automatically toggling such settings (the user has chosen) as Auto-Rotate Screen, Auto-Sync, Display Brightness, Haptic Feedback, Screen Timeout and Wallpaper. The other big improvements embedded in this higher operating system are better file download management, an upgrade to Swype 3.0 and performance enhancements designed to optimize games designed for Echo. As it previously had, the phone still offers personal and corporate email retrieval; a 5MP camera with flash, autofocus, 2X digital zoom and 720p HD camcorder; a full HTML browser with Flash 10.1 optimized for dual screens; and hotspot capability (for an extra $29.99/month) for up to 5 devices.