Today Samsung and T-Mobile announced the new Sidekick 4G, which is expected to be available this spring. The popular messaging phone debuted back in 2002 and was originally produced by Danger Incorporated, which was co-founded by Andy Rubin who also co-founded Android and now oversees the development of Google’s mobile platform.
The Sidekick brand took a major beating with a nasty data outage in 2009 and was discontinued in 2010, but now T-Mobile has decided to revive the series by going with Android and giving it the 4G treatment.
“Backed by the faster speeds on T-Mobile’s 4G network, the new Sidekick 4G offers customers both speed and style,” said Andrew Sherrard, SVP product management, T-Mobile USA. “We’ve reinvented the messaging experience that made the Sidekick such an iconic device, and supercharged it with communication and entertainment experiences that take full advantage of our 4G network.”
A quick look at the Sidekick 4G specs shows us this device has the same interal hardware as the Galaxy S 4G. That means it has Samsung’s 1 GHz Hummingbird CPU, which is one of the fastest single-core mobile processors available. However, it loses the Super AMOLED display in order to reduce costs.
Highlights of the Sidekick 4G include:
- Android 2.2
- 1 GHz Hummingbird CPU
- 3 megapixel primary camera, VGA front-facing camera
- 3.5 inch WVGA display
- Internal storage not announced
- Five-row QWERTY keyboard
- Support for 4G HSPA+ 21 Mbps
Staying true to the brand, the Sidekick 4G features a QWERTY keyboard with a full five rows. It also includes the customary four Android buttons along with an optical trackball and a jump key for multitasking. Gone is the Sidekick’s swivel display, which has been replaced with a unique pop-tilt hinge.
T-Mobile wants to redefine the messaging experience with Sidekick Group Text and Cloud Text. Group Text is an app that provides reply-all group text conversations (similar to free apps like Beluga or GroupMe) and Cloud Text allows you to text with your friends while on the PC.
Several weeks ago I got to fondle a Sidekick 4G and I was impressed with both the hardware and software. It’s obvious that T-Mobile is targeting the mainstream audience who enjoys social messaging, but it was nice to see them include the 1 GHz Hummingbird CPU and support 4G speeds up to 21 Mbps.
The pop-tilt hinge was very sturdy and it took some extra force to get it open. It felt a little stiff, but I’m sure that will smooth out once you become familiar with opening and closing the keyboard. Overall I thought the hinge design was pretty cool and I like that it tilted the screen up to provide a better viewing angle.
Samsung’s TouchWiz UI has been replaced with a special Sidekick skin that comes with its own theme manager. As with most custom UIs you will either love it or hate it, but thankfully Android allows the user to easily replace the pre-loaded launcher and customize the phone to their liking.
It was already announced that T-Mobile would shut-off current Sidekick data services by May 31st, so we expect the Sidekick 4G to be available for pre-order by then. Customers will be able to choose from two colors, matte black or pearl magenta, and we expect the Sidekick 4G to be priced around $149 with contract.
To sign up for more updates, please visit the official Sidekick 4G mini site.
If you owned a previous model Sidekick, please sound off and let us know what you think about the updated Samsung version. Does T-Mobile have a winner with the Sidekick 4G?