T-Mobile Sidekick 4G: Gadget Review

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A few years ago, the Sidekick smartphone was the messaging device for youngsters. After watching pairs of Sidekick users sit next to each other on city busses and text each other via their phones, it was clear that talking had become passe.

Fast forward to 2011: The mobile world is ruled by superphones like Google ( GOOG) Androids, Apple ( AAPL) iPhones and a few Research In Motion ( RIMM) BlackBerries. The Sidekick has lost its relevance.

Specs:
  • provider: T-Mobile
  • network: GSM, UMTS, HSPA, HSPA + (4G)
  • screen size: 3.5 inches
  • screen details: capacitive
  • processor: 1-GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird
  • camera: 3-megapixel camera on back, VGA on front
  • price: $100 with two-year contract
  • Except that T-Mobile doesn't think so. It asked Samsung to update the text-friendly phone to today's design standards. In turn, Samsung based the new Sidekick on the Android operating system and gave it 4G connectivity.

    The new Sidekick is a GSM worldphone, runs Android 2.2, sports a 1GHz processor and has a 3 megapixel camera in back. But it's true to the original phone in most other ways.

    While the new 3.5-inch touchscreen now only slides up and out of the way -- the initial version featured a twist-flip-up-and-over motion -- Samsung retained a lot of what is familiar to the Sidekick, most notably its great keyboard. Thanks to its generously-spaced and nice-to-the-touch keys -- resulting in quicker typing with fewer spelling errors -- this QWERTY keyboard could be the best that we've experienced on any mobile device.

    The operating system has been tweaked a little for this phone. There are some new graphics and features including group texting, cloud texting, video chat and -- of course -- full modern-day social media compatibility with Facebook and Twitter apps pre-loaded.

    T-Mobile knows that in this day and age, a Sidekick is a tougher sell. So it's asking $100 for the phone with a new, two-year service contract. At that point it's bound to be attractive to both youngsters and, more importantly, their parents.

    --Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

    >To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

    Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.

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