Mar 22nd, 2011

T-Mobile finally let loose the Android-running 4G-donning follow-up to the Sidekick series here in Orlando at CTIA wireless. I got a few different chances to play with it and I think T-Mobile really has something good on their hands to retain those loyal Sidekick users.

It was sort of surreal seeing the Sidekick 4G as it was a once-dead line brought back to life, but T-Mobile  brought it back so beautifully and fans of the original will fall in love with it. It’s a Galaxy S phone at heart with its Super AMOLED display and 1GHz Hummingbird processor, but it’s the unique version of TouchWiz that’ll first captivate users.

Samsung’s deeply customized it to cater more to teens, social networking buffs, and messaging fans. They were touting Group Text, a feature that allows a Sidekick 4G owner to text a number of people at once. That side of it is nothing new. It’s what folks on the other end get when they receive this Group Texting SMS.

No matter which phone you’re on – even an old non-color camera-less device – you’ll be able to take part in threaded conversations and reply back to your friends without effort. Those who don’t own Sidekicks still see who’s a part of the session and what they’re saying.

The hardware was even more stunning. Fans of the Sidekick-style keyboard will fall in love here and the addition of an optical trackpad to make up for the lack of the Sidekick-traditional trackball is very welcome. The sliding mechanism to access the keyboard is easy to open and close. I thought closing it would feel a bit weird, but Samsung designed a mechanism that makes it easy AND fun. (I sat there for at least 10 minutes just opening and closing the thing.)

There was also a jump button to round out the quartet of Android navigation buttons. (The fourth usually being a search button.) Upon pressing the jump button, you’ll be presented with a funky-looking menu to “jump” to several different applications. The button is fully customizable, too. Upon holding it down, you’ll be able to assign different actions for different keys on your physical QWERTY keyboard. If I wanted to have the dialer open whenever I held the button down and pressed “P” on the keyboard I could certainly do so.

The Sidekick 4G has stunning build-quality and is very easy on the eyes. While a grown man carrying one of things once screamed immature, I’d still carry it around for its looks alone. It feels like it won’t break over time which is a problem many of us have these days – smartphones just tend to feel cheap sometimes. With the Sidekick 4G, though, it seems like dropping it won’t cause the phone to shatter. (It may cause your spirit to shatter, though.)

There’s a front-facing camera for those who want to video chat with their friends. On the back is only a 3-megapixel camera. While we know a camera’s megapixel count doesn’t really matter, it does seem rather low for a phone that’s teetering on the high-end scale. T-Mobile’s aiming for the youngsters and casuals with this one, though, so I’m fairly positive it won’t be too much of an issue. We got our paws on it in the video above so check it out.

local_offer    Samsung  T-Mobile  T-Mobile SideKick 4G