NEC Casio's forthcoming Medias W Android smartphone has two 4.3-inch touch screens arranged back-to-back on a hinge.
The screen on the rear of the handset folds out to lay next to the main one, forming a larger 5.6-inch touch screen, albeit with a line down the middle.
The phone is designed to be used with just the main screen in normal operation, but includes special software for using its two screens together in various combinations. This includes the basic full screen mode, which creates a larger surface for more space to view maps or a larger keyboard for input, as well as a "stand mode" that mirrors content on both sides for group viewing. The letter "W" in the name is often used to mean "double" in Japanese.
When opened side-by-side the two screens can also be used independently, for instance to browse the web on one side while using Android functions on the other. They can also be used to view to web sites at the same time or browse emails with one screen devoted to a list view and the other to specific messages.
The phone is due to launch on NTT DoCoMo's LTE network in Japan mid-April, as part of the carrier's spring lineup for 2013. It lacks some features that are considered standard on Japanese phones, such as NFC touch-payment support and the ability to show One-Seg mobile TV broadcasts.
"We would like to sell the phone abroad, but currently have no concrete timeframe," said NEC Casio spokesman Yoshibumi Yashiro.
The phone includes a dual-core 1.5MHZ processor, an 8-megapixel camera, and a 2100mAh battery, relatively small in capacity given the power demands of the two screens. The company didn't comment on battery life.
The phone is about 12mm thick when the two screens are folded and features a treatment to cut glare from its screens. The Medias W will run on DoCoMo's LTE network.
Kyocera launched a similar handset with two 3.5-inch screens, the "Echo," in 2011. It is available outside of Japan.