April 20, 2011 will be a special day for Google, Android and T-Mobile as the T-Mobile Sidekick gets reunited with it’s father Andy Rubin and Android. Although many freely disagree with me the T-Mobile Sidekick is the the predecessor to Android. It was Andy Rubin’s first significant mark in the almost Smartphone space, and it was revolutionary in it’s cloud based elements 10 years early.
More after the break with video
Now, what we have as a mega messaging device with the creature comforts we’ve grown to expect from Android. The verdict was out and the skeptics were full on when it was announced that this time the Sidekick would be made by Samsung. Samsung Mobile did a great job on this one and at least we don’t have to worry about Steve Jobs trying to sue Samsung over this idea, it’s all Rubins.
The first thing you notice going from even the last iteration of the Sidekick to the Sidekick 4G is the size and weight. It’s a little thinner and a little lighter. What’s really funny this time around is all the “tech bloggers” who 10 years ago when this thing was coming out were still in middle school. If you’re an Android person (like us) you’ll notice that the menu, home and back button we are accustomed to is on the front of the Sidekick 4G in the corners. What you’ll also notice is they brought the Jump button over from the sidekick days and it still has the same functionality as the sidekick days.
The Jump button allows you to assign a quick Jump + another button to perform a quick task, go to a website, dial a number, open a program. This is not new (middle schoolers in 2001) this is something that was brought over from the original Sidekick. However, it’s a whole lot better because via Android 2.2 you can do a whole lot more with Jump then you could with previous sidekicks.
T-Mobile and Samsung have also customized the user interface to be more reflective of the old school Sidekick experience. In addition to a somewhat traditional looking Android homescreen there are three virtual buttons on the bottom for phone, apps and contacts and of course a notification bar for Android at the top.
Messaging for the masses
T-Mobile and Samsung really wanted to focus on messaging with the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G and that’s exactly what they did. The Sidekick 4G offers a few new messaging features currently not available on any other device. Group messaging is available on the Sidekick 4G.
Group messaging has grown wildly popular lately and now you can text and interact with texts from a whole group. The Sidekick also takes those group messages and keeps them together and somewhat organized for you. (they can get a little off based on participants carriers).
T-Mobile has also added cloud based messaging. Personally cloud based messaging is one of my favorite features and I use Google Voice for it all the time. In the nature of working almost around the clock on thedroidguy.com, thedroidguy twitter and homecoming I’m constantly up and down from my computer, tablet and phones so when I get back on the computer I can keep text conversations going via Google Voice. The T-Mobile Sidekick allows you to do the same thing via cloud based messaging. Don’t get this confused with web based texts where you can go to a carrier site and text a user, here you can sign into your account and have full on conversations that happen on the phone and the computer so you can keep the discussion going.
Sidekick 4g users also have a new feature called “Sticky Messages” where you can push the pushpin icon on each of the messages and save it for later but hitting the push pin doesn’t just save it you can bring it up in a widget thanks to Android.
Multimedia including Camera
The Sidekick 4G continues in the tradition of Samsung’s multimedia experience with Android. You can sync music via double twist and direct to your computer. It supports most music formats and most video formats.
As for camera the rear facing camera is a low 3mp why? Who the heck knows, most phones are coming with 8mp or 5mp cameras but 3 is just,well low. It does keep in toe with the messaging theme of the Sidekick to be able to take quick shots and get them into your social stream as fast as possible.
The front facing camera is of course WVGA and is supported by T-Mobile Video Chat by Qik.
And finally the keyboard
You can’t have a messaging focused device without a keyboard and this one is a 5 row which of course everyone loves a 5 row keyboard with dedicated keys on it. In addition to traditional keyboard keys and layouts you also get search button, and back button right on the keyboard. The keys are spaced well and it also features a smiley face button.
Although it’s not a blockbuster iphone killing superphone, it’s more than the novelty we were expecting. The team at T-Mobile and Samsung put a lot of thought into how to mesh both the Sidekick and the Android experience for the T-Mobile user. The other great thing about this phone is the Sidekick loyalists will have the form factor they expect back with a lot of extra ZING thanks to Android. And who knows Sidekick better than Andy Rubin.