Reviews

T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Review: History Revisited with a Makeover

June 14, 2011 | by Charles West

Android Phones and Devices, Samsung

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It’s been a long time since the Sidekick brand has seen the light of day. You probably remember the good old days, when the Sidekick was designed by Danger , manufactured by Sharp, and lived as (arguably) the messaging phone of choice. Since Danger’s epic collapse, its creators have roamed all over the mobile world leaving their footprints where ever they’ve landed. Danger’s Andy Rubin founded Android, and design director Mattias Duarte helped bring the Helio Ocean and webOS for Palm to the masses. Duarte has since returned with Android building the foundation of its tablets, Honeycomb. So completing this reunion, the founders of Danger and the brains behind our beloved Android, with Samsung’s help, inspired the revamped Sidekick 4G.

HARDWARE

If you knew anything about a Sidekick, then you know about the Sidekick’s great reputation with QWERTY keypads. The 4G version – with its matte, soft-touch plastic frame, and accented dark brushed metal trim – brings a stylish look we’ve always been accustomed to with this brand. Not to go without mention, this revamped SK has a unique “pop-tilt” hinge implemented, doing away with the old and cool flip rotating from the left side up. Made by Samsung, the phone is essentially a thick plastic phone which brings tactile type control for handling. Although it’s plastic, the Sidekick does have an adequate feel to it as far as form factor is concerned, and it’s considerably lighter when compared to the MyTouch 4G.

I was a little disappointed that Samsung didn’t add an ALOMED display to the Sidekick, but the company still managed to add a pretty serviceable and standard 3.5-inch LCD screen. The screen is a bit on the teeny side when it comes to a world of power-phones carrying 4+ inch screens, but it gets the job done. If you look at the phone’s bezel, it suggest that the small screen is quite possibly a cost-cutting measure. That said, you’re looking at 267 pixels per inch;  it’s not bad, but it’s not really suited for multimedia purposes. As far as the touchscreen is concerned, it’s pretty good. When it comes to input, I don’t really have a problem performing standard tasks, and the screen was responsive underneath its smooth Gorilla Glass sheet.

The Sidekick 4G runs a single core, 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor that is more than capable when comes to getting things done. Now, we all know single core processors are slowly becoming a thing of the past with the emergence of dual-core, but for a messaging phone of the Sidekicks caliber — it isn’t needed (hence, the Sidekicks of the past). Besides, as long as you don’t need a device capable of running games optimized for Tegra 2 (dual-core), processing power should not be a concern when considering this phone. Simply put, it does what it’s suppose to do really well. People opting for the Sidekick want a great keyboard, a social experience, and a solid mid-level phone. That’s exactly what happens.

The Sidekick 4G battery life surprised me. When I wasn’t using apps like Angry Birds, Twitter and Facebook the phone pretty much sat for days without needing a charge. The SK 4G uses the same user-replaceable 1500mAh battery Samsung uses in all its mid-range smartphones like the Transform, Intercept, and Craft — this is great because a replacement should be cheap.

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