TmoNews Reviews The Sidekick 4G

When I received the Sidekick 4G in the mail from T-Mobile, I wondered what T-Mobile hoped to accomplish with the Sidekick line. Several years ago, when the news originally broke that the Sidekick line was being killed off, existing users and ardent supporters of the fabled Sidekick line were understandably upset. The data outage that plagued the Sidekick brand back in October of 2009 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. There was no way that line could recover, at least not in that form.

So we move forward to today with the introduction of the Sidekick 4G which maintains the best of the Sidekick hardware with the introduction of a more modern OS platform, that of Android.

I’ve put the Sidekick 4G through almost two solid weeks of review, and I can say with confidence this device is the Sidekick hardware you want to remember. For long-time users of the Sidekick platform, Android will be hit or miss but you’ll definitely love the keyboard. Oh, you’ll want to make sweet love to the keyboard.

Specifications:

  • 3.5″ (800x 480) touchscreen
  • 1 GHz Cortex A8 (Hummingbird) processor
  • 5-row QWERTY keyboard with dedicated Voice Actions key
  • “Pop-tilt” hinge
  • 5.7 ounces
  • Eight colorful theme options
  • Android 2.2
  • HSPA+ 21Mbps capable

Pros:

  • Oh my goodness, what a great, excellent, and amazing keyboard
  • Great battery life
  • Android
  • Fast 4G data speed

Cons:

  • A little on the large side, not overly so but larger than the all touchscreen devices we have gotten used to
  • No landscape phone dialing
  • Camera, power button positions aren’t ideal
  • Some lag with gestures

Hardware:

It would tough not to instantly recognize the body and design of the Sidekick 4G as a Sidekick. The form factor won’t be mistaken as an iPhone.  It’s distinctly Sidekick and that’s a great thing. I compared this to a friend’s G2 and it’s definitely wider when the keyboard is open. At 5” x 2.4” x 0.6”, the Sidekick isn’t a small phone but it’s not that heavy.

The front of the device has four tactile buttons. On the left are the Home and Jump buttons and on the right are Menu and Back keys. An optical navigation pad sits in-between the Menu and Back keys. On the bottom of the device is the headphone jack, volume control and power function. The top of the device has the dedicated camera key and usb slot. The back has the Sidekick’s 3 megapixel camera sans flash which has the companion front-facing VGA camera for video chat. Beneath the front-facing camera is the LED notification light which can be customized for various features and colors.

 

The keyboard, oh yes, this beautiful keyboard. It’s awesome on so many levels. Did I mention I love the keyboard? The keys are nicely spaced and their rubberized coating gives them great tactile feedback. The 5-row keyboard gives you dedicated number keys, shift key, emoticon and a voice action button. The default touchscreen keyboard is swype but I honestly found myself constantly going back to the hardware keyboard because it’s just wonderful.

The Sidekick 4G has a plastic like feel but, unlike most devices, that’s not a bad thing. The outer shell seems sturdy and the “pop-tilt” hinge doesn’t give away any impression it’s going to fail. The screen pops up quickly and feels very natural.

Software:

So here is where the Sidekick 4G begins to differentiate itself from the Sidekicks of old. In case we have some new readers joining us, the Danger OS is being discontinued at the end of May so T-Mobile found a  new way to breathe life into the Sidekick line by adding Android. The Sidekick 4G comes with Android 2.2 but with a twist. This isn’t your typical Android overlay as there are plenty of tweaks to differentiate the Sidekick 4G from other Android devices running the same platform.

The lockscreen is your first glimpse at how different the Android overlay is with a diagonal split with almost cartoonish letters. Sliding up or down on either diagonal will unlock the device and, of course, the lockscreen will show you if you have any missed calls or messages waiting.

 

 

To help make former Sidekick owners feel a little more at home, the side-scrolling Jump menu lists the most recent apps.  However, you can add in your own Jump key shortcuts by individual alphabet letter.

The seven home screens bring the typical Android look and feel along with the phone, apps and contact buttons remaining in the permanent position at the bottom providing easy access in any screen. The apps screen scrolls left to right as per the typical Samsung Touchwiz Android interface.

The home button serves two masters with the actual “home” feature taking you back to the home screen from any place in the menu. A long press, however, will bring up your notification screen. Something that was pointed out to me was the option to update your Facebook, Twitter and MySpace service from the notification screen which isn’t something you’ll typically find on an Android device.

Performance:

With a 1 GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird CPU, the Sidekick 4G was able to crank out a high score of 1018. When putting the device through a daily routine I would find intermittent lag particularly in the browser when flash content was being used. I never felt the device slow to a crawl but there definitely were some times that lag was noticeable. Still, it was never frequent enough or slow enough that it interrupted any of my daily usage. I’m a power phone user and I use a multitude of apps at any given time so it’s possibly I was simply asking the phone to do too much. On the flip-side, a removal of the Android overlay with root and a custom ROM and the Sidekick 4G could crank out significantly improved performance results.

Messaging:

The Sidekick 4G is a device built for messaging and T-Mobile built the device for this very purpose. The Group Texting app will let you send messages to pre-assigned groups. This will allow group members to see the responses from other group members regardless of phone or carrier.

In an effort to extend the text experience to the home PC, Cloud text backs up your conversations online and provides access to them via the web browser. Visit cloudtext.sidekick.com and set up Cloud Texting. Admittedly, I didn’t try this feature as it wasn’t live when I first received the phone.

Entering the messaging screen brings you to the standard text message screen.  A quick press of the Magenta colored key brings up the ‘Universal Composer’ allowing you to send an update to Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. You can send updates to multiple services if you are so inclined.

Having used the phone for almost 10 days as of this writing, I can safely say that the Sidekick 4G is as expected – a messaging phone through and through. The way-above- average keyboard brings home a fantastic messaging experience. Whether it’s just texting a friend or quickly updating your Facebook status, the Sidekick 4G gets it done.

Media Room:

Media room is the Sidekick 4G’s all-in-one media playing app. The standard Android music player is here along with T-Mobile TV and YouTube in the video category and with Slacker Radio. This comes off as fairly standard stuff to any past or present T-Mobile Android user and simply bundles the applications. There is an extra option to rate songs on a scale of 0 to 5 however I can’t see myself or anyone for that matter really concerning themselves with a rating scale in real life. It’s a nice little feature but feels like something was missing and they added it in at the last minute.

Phone:

During my phone conversations with the Sidekick 4G, callers told me the phone sounded very clear. There was plenty of volume in the earpiece which is a feature I truly appreciate and the speakerphone was also loud and clear.

As expected in T-Mobile Android devices these days, Wi-Fi calling is present and accounted for. It worked exactly as it was supposed to and set up on my home network without a problem.

Coverage:

Depending on where I am in South Florida, T-Mobile coverage is anywhere from acceptable to great. I did some road tests with the Sidekick 4G as well as hit some spots I know to be perfect for speed tests. The pictures tell the story as the Sidekick 4G is no slouch with my slowest speeds coming in at 2.6 Mbps on the downlink and high end speeds coming in at 8.2 on the downlink. I was often somewhere in the middle when in good 4G coverage and far below when I wasn’t in a good coverage area. It has been my experience that T-Mobile 4G coverage is really hit or miss. When it’s on, it’s on like donkey kong but when it’s off, prepare yourself for EDGE like speeds. That being said, the Sidekick performed incredibly well when the network gave it the opportunity to do so and I was very impressed by the browsing and download speeds.

Battery Life:

The Sidekick 4G comes stocked with a 1,500 mAh battery which is fairly standard for Android phones these days. With heavy use, I was able to get through a morning to night daily routine. Keep in mind I have push email turned on for three email accounts, Twitter on manual refresh and a heavy load of text messaging going on at any given time. Throw in some moderate web browsing and I was still successful in going from sunrise to sunset with the Sidekick 4G.

T-Mobile rates the battery talk time as 6.5 hours with 19 days of standby time.

Camera Gallery:

Verdict:

Samsung certainly had a lot to live up to by taking over the Sidekick line from the folks at Sharp who had all but perfected a device with one of the most loyal followings in recent memory. Present and past Sidekick owners will find plenty to cheer about in terms of hardware and will likely forget within a few minutes that the back of the phone is stamped with the Samsung name. If you didn’t know any better and had never seen the Android overlay, at first glance you’d easily recognize this device as the unmistakable form factor of the Sidekicks of old. However, this time the Sidekick has a bigger processor and a much more powerful operating system.

The Sidekick 4G might be targeted to a younger set but I can absolutely see this device appealing to anyone who has been looking for the perfect QWERTY keyboard in an Android package.

This was our first official review phone from T-Mobile and I couldn’t have picked a better and more fun device to review. For just $99.99, the Sidekick is a well-designed Android phone that has plenty of depth in the messaging department, 4G speeds, a keyboard that makes me want to do a happy dance and it has Android. Its biggest competition in the T-Mobile lineup in the G2 which offers a larger screen and stock Android but it’s not nearly as much fun to play with and it costs $100 more.

The bottom line is that the Sidekick 4G has a lot to love and is a great addition to the T-Mobile lineup. The Android overlay may not be for everyone, especially Android purists but it’s worth checking out if only to feel how amazing the keyboard is. Samsung, Android and T-mobile have breathed new life into the Sidekick line and they’ve done it well.

Full Gallery:

 

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  • Ladysman35645

    AWEOSME

    • Bob

      no bitch

  • Andrade3

    That is awesssommmeeeee

  • http://samsunggalaxys2blog.com/ John MichealX

    just for teen :D

    • Bamafanily

      not for teen: no matter any age can use this sidekick….lot of deaf are buying this….since keyboard…..

      • SocalTeknique

        I remember last year there was a group of 5 deaf teenagers buying the MyTouch Slide. The Sidekick will be an awesome device for them.

        P.S I still miss my 2004 Sidekick II’s awesome keyboard

    • Duamell Lamb

      I think that the old sidekicks were made for teens and this one was created for the adults.

  • Niksalerno

    Grats David on the first review!! Well written and lots of awesome pics. Admittedly I had no interest in this phone – I was just more excited to read your work and was excited for you lol

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Awww man you made me blush, that’s awesome of you to say!

  • Anonymous

    Great review David.

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Thank you!

  • Randyr

    Great review!

    Can you add the gingerbread keyboard to use on screen?

  • Anonymous

    Nice!

  • Anonymous

    So have you rooted it yet??

    • Anonymous

      I just rooted mine yesterday :-)

      • dan

        whats rooted

        • WhoCares

           Its when your mom shaves her back hairs. 0_o

  • Drew

    I have to admit, I was never a big fan of the sidekicks, but this one looks /quite/ compelling. The sidekick faithful will love it.

  • Jonathan from LA

    I still dont know why T-Mobile let this device be 21 mbps and have the G2x 14.4 mbps. G2x is obviously more high end and their flagship device but instead gave it to this crappy looking device

    • Anonymous

      I heard that samsung makes the 21mbps modems….thus the samsung phones have them

    • Ms.Carmen Diva

      Tell us how you really feel, Johnathan

      • http://twitter.com/add119 adam

        i agree with jonathan is right you said you own g2,mytouch4g,xpedia x10, droid x? how if all those phone is better then sidekick 4g even the original droid is better it a 2009 phone.

      • http://twitter.com/add119 adam

        i agree with jonathan is right you said you own g2,mytouch4g,xpedia x10, droid x? how if all those phone is better then sidekick 4g even the original droid is better it a 2009 phone.

    • http://www.cyber-punk.cz.cc/ ShadowRunner

      sidekick has always been their flagship line.

  • Anonymous

    I am a long time Sidekick user and when Microsoft screwed over the previous generation I hopped over to the Vibrant. Immediately I found myself hating on-screen keyboards. So when word of a new Sidekick running Android emerged I was so happy. I wasn’t sure this would be a sure deal for me, but after picking it up at the store and playing with it I bought it :-) The keyboard is just like it used to be. A few keys aren’t in the same spot so that takes a little getting used to. If you are a long time Sidekick user like I am, you’ll find yourself hitting that Jump Button to go back home. I think they should have made the Home/Jump the same function some how. The camera could be better and it doesn’t zoom. Since I have my old Vibrant, I don’t plan on using it as a media device. However, YouTube videos on HQ come out very nicely with very low load times thanks to the 4G. I tried Dungeon Defenders and OMG talk about lag. I can’t really complain about it’s faults though as all I really wanted was the keyboard. Oh and just yesterday I rooted it thanks to XDA. If you know how to use ADB, then you should have no problems rooting this bad boy.

    4 1/2 stars from me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2C6G33KF7RHDDKWKVADRTZ3LIY Leon

    Played with this thing at the T-Mo store. Have to say the 3.5″ screen is rather small after using 4.0″ Galaxy S screens, and 4.3″ HTC screens. If you’re into primarily messaging, then the keyboard will override the smallish screen. But if you surf the web more than you text/e-mail, probably better to get a larger screen with a non-dedicated keyboard. Surfing the web on this thing is gonna be a pain, as text and everything is teeny tiny.

  • Anonymous

    .vipshopper.us

  • Jon

    Man this makes me feel nostalgic. Remembering when I had the sidekick 2, good times but I can’t help but get excited when I see this phone. I have a HD2 with gingerbread on it but I still have an interest in this new sidekick. And by the way I agree thanks David it isn’t all that easy to find a full review on this handset but you went and did it for us.

  • Christalee23

    WOW. You gave an AWESOME review of this phone!! My SK4G is scheduled to deliver on Monday and I *CANT WAIT* :) The pics were really nice too! Is that an alligator coming out of the water in the one with the “Beware of alligators” sign? (just curious) lol

  • Justinnn

    Let me just say, I was afraid I was downgrading from my vibrant when I ordered my SK4G, and thought i’d regret missing out on the G2x, but said oh well its worth it to have one last chance to have a sidekick device. I was worried for nothing because this phone is AWESOME! I was worried about “downgrading” from a SuperAMOLED, I honestly can’t tell the difference. This screen is super bright and colorful, and is the perfect size for this device. The pop-tilt hinge is perfect, I don’t miss the swivel like I was sure I would. The 4G web experience spanks my vibrants 3G. The SK android skin is different and FUN! It doesn’t hinder the experience at all. Group text is so useful! Why isn’t every phone optimised for it like the SK4G!? Words can’t express how absolutely perfect the keyboard experience is. Unfortunatly, the camera does suck. If they would have gave us the Galaxy S 5mp module that I came to love on my Vibrant, I’d be in heaven. However, that alone is not enough to fault this phone.

    Overall, I urge you to give the SK4G a go! Its been awhile since an android phone has truly entertained me (I’ve had several), and this phone is just plain FUN! It’s the hummingbird speed you’ve appreciated from your vibrant, and the youthful SK form factor you know you secretly want.

    Thank you for reading that novel of a post (composed effortlessly on my new SK4G), later!

  • Ms.Carmen Diva

    Gotta Say I love my job :)
    I was able to win a choice between the G2X and this phone, I chose this phone because when Sidekicks were the rage, I always wanted one and unfortunately I was on another network at the time..

    I’m definitely waiting for the Xperia play however this phone i have been using since yesterday is great.

    Great phone and honestly, it performs A LOT better than the mytouch 4g i used to have and the keyboard is a lot more fun and easier to use than my old G2.

    Me coming from a 4.3 inch HTC HD7 down to this 3.5 inch screen is really not the big of a deal…I do miss th real estate but people are forever exaggerating. about the lack of real estate

  • Ms.Carmen Diva

    oh and The Camera is not AS BAD as I expected…It’s a big step down from the 8 megapixel of other devices I have used(XPeria X10, Evo, Droid X) but ironically enough, it performs better than my HTC HD7 which i just actually sold(and miss) and that has a 5 megapixel camera.

    I’ve been able to take some really great shots for my facebook and such and it’s just such a great phone and I may wind up sticking with Tmobile just for this phone and forgetting about the Xperia play lol

  • Duamell Lamb

    When i first heard of the NEW and IMPROVED Sidekick coming out powered by Android i was EXTREMELY excited. I currently have the G2 and the battery life SUCKS!!! but i am really thinking of picking up this phone. David, how long did you keep this phone off of the charger before it was dying and you needed to hook it up? Sidekick has been one of my favorite phones since i can remember i just hated the software that was on it, back when the Sidekick ID was out. Thats what turned me away from the phone and then every other platform was TRASH as well. DAVID, the REVIEW was GREAT and i dont think anyone could’ve sold this phone any better than what you just did.

  • Mark

    David, excellent review! Here’s to a long and happy relationship between you and Tmo.

    I see two things that seem like a miss on Samsung/Tmo’s part. The first is no landscape dialing. For a phone that seems intended to spend most of its time in landscape mode, having to turn to portrait before you dial the phone sounds awkward to me. If my CLIQ can dial in landscape mode, I don’t see why this phone can’t. The second is an actual mail-in rebate to get that $50 back. Who does that anymore?

    The bottom line, though, is that if I were in upgrade this definitely sounds like a phone I’d be looking at. Hopefully it’s still around next year.

    P.S., since I’ve been in the Northeast for a very long winter, can I come stay at your house? The palm trees look awesome! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ElectroHop Jay Alford

    Dave. Dave, Dave, Dave. You are the MAN!!!

  • G2XUSER

    too bad this had 2 outdated cameras and really laggy software or i would of loved this. but i love my g2x so much i don’t miss any keyboard.

    • Elreytito12

      hey you moron they both have the same os wich is android lol lol do your home work

      • me

        He didn’t complain about the OS, he complained about the cameras and the software. All the stupid sidekick stuff runs on top of android 2.2 and causes lag. get a clue.

  • Anonymous
  • Get ya sum-TGOD

    OS looks Hideous!!!! Bahahaha

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Noradon-Dixon/100001451419053 Noradon Dixon

    Heads up nothing i mean nothing transfer to the 4g Sidekick when you put your sim card in .Not even you contacts .No tmail mail .Notes settlings ect Nothing .

    • Anonymous

      Traditional Sidekicks (Danger OS) saved NOTHING to SIM Cards.

      There has been an option available for several months to back up your data to either your memory card (not the sim, but your SD Card) or to your computer. e-mail does NOT back up, but things that ARE: Contacts (Address Book), Calendar, Notes, To-do lists, Photos (that are saved to the device, not the SD Card), & Bookmarks (from the Web Browser)

      If you have already disconnected your sidekick data service, and it has been less than 3 months, you can contact T-mobile, and they can temporarily turn your Sidekick data service back on and hopefully your data will still be there so you can back it up. when finished, call T-Mobile back and they will turn it back off.

      You can then use Google services to import your data (especially calendar, ToDo & contacts) to their service. Calendar transfers very esily. Contacts are somewhat sketchy but any data it can’t figure out is saved to the NOTES section of the record/contact which you can manually change to fit their data fields.

      If you want e-mails transferred, you have to manually forward each 1 to another e-mail address. I read here: http://www.poweredbydanger.com/community/userblogs/85889/42822 that if you do this from the Website (Sidekick Desktop Interface), and use Firefox, there is an add-on that allows you to save all links on the page as HTML files. this would automate the process…

      QUOTE: “If you have been trying to find a way to backup your tmail email before giving up your sidekick, then since it isn’t a POP email service, you have to either forward all the emails to another email account or go to the sidekick Desktop online and save the html files that are the emails. Easiest way is to view 200 emails per page, and use the Firefox web browser with the addin DownThemAll. That will download all the html links on the page in one shot, so you get 200 of your emails at a time. You can find DownThemAll on the web with a quick search. Good luck.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Noradon-Dixon/100001451419053 Noradon Dixon

        Thank you i have been in the process to move said info and emails yes i know and thank I am going to try lather of you suggested .Thanks again.O and for the most part i sent everything to G mail the contacts loaded but notes and stuff did not.

  • Samsoofunnie67

    that was an amazing review, thank you, i am now going to buy me a sidekick, i loved the LX, im sure i will love this phone too

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jesus-Lopez/100002210504205 Jesus Lopez

     I loved my Sidekick and the new Sidekick really has just perfected my favorite phone. I love that it will be powered by Android, so I can enjoy all my favorite apps. I cannot wait to try this phone out with my employee Sling adapter from DISH Network. With the Sling adapter, I can stream live and recorded TV to my Android headset everywhere I have 3G coverage or WiFi. Also DISH is offering free Sling adapters, get more info at this link; http://goo.gl/Qsggz. 

  • nhu

    I want one so bad but my dad is like ohkay then oh wait lets go tmrw uhhhh. im sick of it huuh.. im crying i want one today on fathers day plzzz god say yes to my dad <3

  • Lola_10_2000_1999

    I HATE IT!! First day I purchased my NEW SK4G the screen froze also, while being charged I was UNABLE to use my phone without disconnecting it…. TMOBILE store exchanged it because of this defect. *(of course I was still in the 14day grace period)
    The NEW 2nd phone is now in its 1month and a half period…The screen is FROZEN, I am unable to receive incoming calls, so OFF to the TMOBILE store tomorrow to get rid of it or perhaps upgrade to a BETTER  phone…. Thinking of that G2X with a dual processor….any suggestions?

  • Lola_10_2000_1999

    I HATE IT!! First day I purchased my NEW SK4G the screen froze also, while being charged I was UNABLE to use my phone without disconnecting it…. TMOBILE store exchanged it because of this defect. *(of course I was still in the 14day grace period)
    The NEW 2nd phone is now in its 1month and a half period…The screen is FROZEN, I am unable to receive incoming calls, so OFF to the TMOBILE store tomorrow to get rid of it or perhaps upgrade to a BETTER  phone…. Thinking of that G2X with a dual processor….any suggestions?

  • Lola_10_2000_1999

    I HATE IT!! First day I purchased my NEW SK4G the screen froze also, while being charged I was UNABLE to use my phone without disconnecting it…. TMOBILE store exchanged it because of this defect. *(of course I was still in the 14day grace period)
    The NEW 2nd phone is now in its 1month and a half period…The screen is FROZEN, I am unable to receive incoming calls, so OFF to the TMOBILE store tomorrow to get rid of it or perhaps upgrade to a BETTER  phone…. Thinking of that G2X with a dual processor….any suggestions?

  • Adriana_ortiz91

    I love sidekick and i bought this phone when it first came out this spring. it was a great phone for the first few weeks but after that it started lagging and freezing a lot and glitches a lot too. but of course it glitches because it is an android phone. does not have too much space in the internal memory so you will have to buy a better memory card. this phone drives me crazy at times and i feel like throwing it out the window. im not saying it’s a bad phone because its not that bad but you do have to work out the glitches when it updates and control amount of applications downloaded and get a memory card with more space or it will freeze and lag like crazy. hope this helps for any sidekick 4g users. also download advanced task killer because that helps too

  • Liliannaelrod

    I have used almost all the TMo Androids and I adore this one. That keyboard alone is worth the price of admission!
    One feature that few mention is the lanyard attachment .Next to a gel skin a wrist strap is your best insurance against dropping and damaging ones phone.

  • SUSAN

    I HATE MY 4G SIDEKICK!!! ITS THE WORST PHONE I HAD THROUGH TMOBILE.

    • Susan

      maybe its just this phone!! I have had so many problems with it. Maybe i should get a new one and see if that one won’t give me so many problems.

  • Jar305

    new update out it makes a huge difference 

  • Ghettorumbler

    update is killer …for now… the phone sucked after the first update and i had to deal with that bull for entirely too long.

  • Domyloppi2son

    I’ve had a sidekick for several months. And I think its terrible. It lags, constantly. Just freezes and turns off by itself. Its damn annoying. Pictures aren’t greatest quality either. But the keyboard IS great.

    • Domyloppi2son

      And even though battery fills up quick and fast it works vice versa. You have to keep a charger on hand if you dont wanna worry about it. But again, VERY nice keyboard

  • Lordcisco

    the phones horrible freezes all over the place my moms free phone is much better and touch screen with keyboard crap to ssh to my servers with