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printed October 25, 2014
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Review: Kyocera Echo

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

Technically, the Echo has two, separate 3.5-inch displays. When positioned next to one another, they create the illusion of a single, larger display. Individually, these two 3.5-inch panels look about on par with most similar-sized Android handsets. They offer good pixel density, and are bright and colorful. In side by side comparisons, the two displays look exactly the same; you can't tell them apart. I did notice that they wash out a bit when outdoors in sunlight, but many phones suffer the same thing. The Echo, however, was still readable and I didn't have trouble using it as a camera even under bright sunlight.

Signal

Signal performance is all over the map with the Echo. It never consistently held onto Sprint's network. Sitting on my desk, it would show 5 bars, then drop to 2, then go back up to 4, then dwindle down to 0. In my basement, it alternately dropped the network entirely, and then displayed full signal strength. The Echo dropped a number of calls, and several required redialing before they could go through. Data connections were also spotty. Sometimes it connected right away, other times it stalled badly. Signal performance was quite poor on a trip into Manhattan. For example, the Echo took a long time to reconnect to the network after emerging from subway tunnels.

Sound

Call quality with the Echo was spotty. Earpiece volume was plenty loud, but calls suffered from a lot of scratchy static. I had the sound drop out entirely a number of times, and the clarity was simply not good. Those with whom I spoke said that I sounded distant. Ringers, alerts and other notifications are plenty loud, though. The speakerphone offers plenty of volume, but that volume does little more than amplify the awful quality of calls. The vibrate alert is crazy strong.

Battery

The Kyocera Echo ships with a spare battery and a battery charger. That should serve as a warning right there. The included battery is only 1370mAh, which seems anemic for a device with two 3.5-inch displays. I was able to drain the Echo's battery from a full charge to 100% dead in just three hours when using both screens. If you ignore the second screen completely and stick with just one, you'll do much better. I got nearly a full day out of it (from 7AM to 9PM). Mixed used of both screens -- which is what I expect will be the "normal" use case -- killed off the battery in about 8 hours. That's just not good enough, but tells us why the Echo comes with an extra battery. My advice? Make sure the spare is always charged.

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