written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 5/26/2011
The Sidekick brand was officially killed in 2010 and the cloud supporting them was set to expire on May 31, 2011. T-Mobile announced in January of 2011 that a newer Sidekick 4G would be on the horizon and at CTIA 2011 it was shown to the public. Now powered by Android, it seems to have risen back.
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T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Review
The original Sidekick was T-Mobile's first successful launch into hitting the teen market. Featuring a sleek design, slide out keyboard and extremely responsive operating system, the original Sidekick really grabbed the attention of people who loved texting more than calling. Unfortunately, after a bit of a fiasco with some lost data, T-Mobile eventually ended their relationship with Danger and the Sidekick was considered a thing of the past. That was, until the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G first surfaced as a rumor. Manufactured by Samsung, the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G was the rebirth of the Sidekick brand from T-Mobile.
T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Specifications:
Dimensions: 5.00 x 2.42 x 0.60 inches (127 x 61 x 15 mm)
Weight: 5.70 oz (162 g)
Display: 3.5 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels
OS: Android OS 2.2
Processor: 1 GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird
Camera: 3 megapixel camera, front facing VGA camera
The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G pays a nice homage to the original design of the Sidekick by placing four shortcuts for home, jump, menu and back all around the 3.5 inch TFT display, rather than the usual Android shortcuts on the bottom. The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G also features a 5 row physical, full QWERTY keyboard, though it does deviate from the swivel out screen that the original Sidekick was well known for. Instead, the Sidekick 4G opts to go on with a pop out slide out keyboard. Push the display and it pops out for a second before sliding into position.
The keyboard itself is very well made, as to be expected from a Sidekick. The keys are well laid out and spacious, and the keys themselves are very responsive. The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G's keyboard is definitely comparable, if not better than the HTC Merge keyboard. The pop out mechanism on the keyboard is also extremely slick and quick, simply roll your thumbs along the side and it quickly snaps out. It's very much like the T-Mobile G2, except it feels more sturdy, even when the keyboard is popped out.
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Hardware and Software
The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G comes with a 1 GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor, which doesn't come as too much of a surprise considering Samsung has used this processor in the past. Like the Samsung Vibrant, available on T-Mobile, the Sidekick 4G is very responsive and only shows lag occasionally. The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G uses the 1 GHz processor to power Android 2.2, no longer using DangerOS that its predecessor used. It is also the very first in the Sidekick line to feature a touchscreen display, thanks to the usage of Android 2.2. It is, however, not stock Android, but a slightly modified version, specific for use with the Sidekick 4G. Whether or not this custom version of Android 2.2 will affect future updates is to be determined.
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The T-Mobile Sidekick has always been known as a texting phone and the Sidekick 4G is no different. The main selling point of the Sidekick 4G, the keyboard, is very well built and the keys are extremely easy to feel and use. The slight bevel on the back really helps to grip the Sidekick 4G and stops the phone from bouncing as you type. The responsiveness of the pop out hinge on the keyboard is also a welcome addition and, at times, can be addicting as you push the display out and push it back in. The display itself comes out at a slight angle and feels firm, not slightly wobbly like on the T-Mobile G2.
As the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G uses Android, the 3.5 inch screen can also be used, unlike any previous Sidekick in the past. Like all other Android devices the Sidekick 4G is extremely easy to pick up and learn as it is a touchscreen interface. The customized Android version does enhance the user interface, though there are of course people who prefer stock Android. One of the key items on the original Sidekick was how fast it was for texting, which the Sidekick 4G doesn't really live up to. There's a bit of slight lag, a bit of loading time at times and a lot of click here and there compared to the original Sidekick. If there's one thing DangerOS did right, it was make texting a very simple, quick and efficient means of communication on the original Sidekick which this version slightly lacks.
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The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G comes with a below average 3 megapixel camera and a front facing VGA camera for video chatting. The 3 megapixel camera is definitely a disappointment, especially with the market that the Sidekick 4G is most likely aiming at. Like the original Sidekick, the Sidekick 4G is mostly aiming at texters and teens, who, in turn, will most likely love to take pictures and immediately upload them to Facebook, Twitter, or their personal blog. A lower quality camera on the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G does make it less appealing though there is a chance that teens will just not care.
Another interesting little feature the Sidekick 4G adds is the group chat and cloud chat abilities. The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G has the ability to send chats to groups of people, even if the recipients do not have the Sidekick 4G. Adding more people is easy, just simply click the add person shortcut and keep texting away. The cloud texting ability is also a little interesting addition, allowing you to text with friends on their PCs or using your PC to text friends.
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The Final Verdict
Overall the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G ranks in as a very high "Average" ranking. If there was a way to rank in between "Average" and "Good" then the Sidekick 4G would slide in that area. While there will be those who do not like the Sidekick line up, for those who do enjoy texting often, the Sidekick 4G will be a great addition to their hectic life. The group chat aspect of the Sidekick 4G really takes it up a notch for texting but the little disappointments here and there do make it rank a little lower. Overall, if you're a fan of texting and don't care too much about the latest Android update or the best camera on a smartphone, the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G may be the smartphone for you. For others, the HTC Thunderbolt or Motorola Atrix may be a better choice.