T-Mobile officially brings back the Sidekick

March 15, 2011: 12:25 AM ET

The New Android Sideick

This time it is a Samsung Galaxy S under the hood.

Before the iPhone was released in mid 2007, I had been a Sidekick user for three or four years.  I did jump to the iPhone  but I never regained my typing and multi-task speed, even with the best Androids/iPhones out there today.

The Sidekick, as you probably know, was a specialized early smartphone that was widely marketed to and purchased by the younger teens/Hip-Hop types.  And me, I guess.

That's a shame for the rest of the world because, before the iPhone came along, the Sidekick could do more than any other device out there and do it incredibly efficiently.  It also has an App Store (Catalogue), multi-tasking, Cloud backup of important information -- like address books, email, calendar, etc.  In that respect, Android and iPhone haven't yet caught up to the  Sidekick.

In short, it was way ahead of its time.

Who built this device?  A company called Danger run by a Mr. Andy Rubin.  If that name doesn't ring a bell, he's the head of Android development at Google (GOOG) now.  He left Danger as Microsoft (MSFT) purchased the company and basically ran it into the ground.  T-Mobile is turning off the last of the old sidekick accounts now.  But those users will have something to replace their old Danger Sidekicks with now....and, yes ol' Andy Rubin has a hand in it.

T-Mobile today is launching the new Android Sidekick this Spring, which will be built by Samsung on its popular Galaxy S platform.  As you can see from the picture above, it has the shell of the older Danger devices, yet Microsoft will have no part in this device.

Like other Galaxy S devices, it will run Android 2.2 on a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor.  It has a smaller than usual 3.5 inch WVGA touch screen that doesn't swivel like the original but does slide up to reveal a mighty familiar looking keyboard.  It has front (with Qik video conferencing) and rear cameras, the back being a 3 megapixel CCD.

T-Mobile just posted the new page with a helpful 360-degree navigational viewer.

The specs seem to point to a mid-range type of device, even though there are some high end features.  Samsung's media hub and Last.fm are included as well as texting-while-driving lockout functionality and Sidekick Group Text and Cloud Text.

What really impresses me is the five row keyboard, which looks a lot like the previous Sidekick's award-winning design.  Samsung and T-Mobile have tried to recreate the original Sidekick's look and feel.

The only question is, after almost five years since my last Sidekick, will I be able to pick this up and be as fast as I was before.  I can't wait to find out.

Press Release follows:

T-Mobile Sidekick Is Reborn

New Sidekick 4G is a Lightning-Fast and Stylish Communication Hub, Delivering Evolved Messaging and Entertainment at 4G Speeds

BELLEVUE, Wash., and DALLAS — March 15, 2011 — T-Mobile USA, Inc. and Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile), the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the U.S.,1 today unveiled the new T-Mobile Sidekick® 4G™ by Samsung. The new Android™-powered smartphone pays tribute to its heritage with its stylish good looks and a killer keyboard while redefining messaging and upgrading to 4G speeds. One of T-Mobile's fastest smartphones running on America's Largest 4G Network™, the new Sidekick 4G is capable of delivering theoretical peak download speeds of up to 21 Mbps.

The T-Mobile Sidekick has long been known for its innovative and distinctive design, and the Sidekick 4G does not disappoint. The 3.5-inch display marks the first Sidekick to feature a touch screen and its sturdy "pop-tilt" hinge reveals the previously acclaimed, five-row QWERTY keyboard that has long been a Sidekick hallmark and the reason behind its status as an exceptional messaging device.

The new Sidekick 4G leverages its quality keyboard along with Sidekick Group Text™ and Cloud Text™ to redefine messaging. Sidekick's Group Text feature lets customers create, name, manage and participate in reply-all group text conversations, enabling them to lead their network in conversation and social planning. Group Text breathes new life into one of the most popular forms of messaging allowing Sidekick 4G customers to initiate and share the benefit of the application with SMS-capable devices from flip phones to smartphones. In addition, Cloud Text provides the option to text with friends or groups across platforms, whether from the comfort of their PC's large screen and keyboard, or from their new Sidekick 4G.

"Backed by the faster speeds on T-Mobile's 4G network, the new Sidekick 4G offers customers both speed and style," said Andrew Sherrard, senior vice president, 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."

Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Mobile, said, "We are proud that T-Mobile selected Samsung to help create the next-generation Sidekick and carry the iconic Sidekick brand and device to the next level. Samsung redesigned the new Sidekick 4G with our best-in-class hardware, combined with T-Mobile's 4G network speeds, the Android operating system, and unique messaging and entertainment features, to make this a perfect match for both loyal Sidekick fans and new Sidekick owners."

The new Sidekick 4G also comes preloaded with Facebook® and Twitter™ applications, and provides easy interaction with customers' social networks by allowing them to update their status from the notification pane and browse their feeds from the home screen. They have the ability to sync their social network contacts to the phone's address book, which lets them post to their friends' walls or comment on their status. And multitasking is easier than ever with the Sidekick 4G's jump key, an easy-to-access physical button that enables customers to quickly switch between active applications, even during a phone call, or assign keyboard shortcuts to their favorite functions or applications.

In addition to a communication hub, the new Sidekick 4G is now an entertainment hub. With speeds as fast as home broadband, enjoying a favorite TV show or surfing the Web on the go is a breeze. Sidekick's Media Room features one place to enjoy music, videos, movies, YouTube®, T-Mobile TV® and Slacker Radio, and to search for content regardless of the source. The integrated media player, also accessible through the Media Room, spans across all media including music, video and Internet radio. Customers also have the option to rent or purchase their favorite movies and TV programs directly from the Samsung Media Hub, which offers a robust collection of movie and next-day TV show titles from CBS, Fox, MTV Networks, NBC Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. Customers now have the option to place Media Hub charges directly to their monthly T-Mobile service bill.

Complementing the messaging communication features, the new Sidekick 4G is equipped with a VGA front-facing camera and pre-installed T-Mobile Video Chat powered by Qik™, to ensure you are always present with your social circle. Powered by Android 2.2 (Froyo) and a speedy 1 GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor, so consumers can keep up with their favorite blogs while on the move, search for the must-try dinner spots and map the way to their next destination — all at blazing fast speeds. The new smartphone will also offer dynamic media features and integrated Google™ services, including Gmail™, Google Maps™ and access to thousands of applications on Android Market™.

The new Sidekick 4G also comes equipped with DriveSmart™ from T-Mobile, a first-of-its kind service from a U.S. carrier, that helps prevent distracted driving. When initiated, DriveSmart Basic provides automatic incoming call and message management, sending a customizable note to callers and senders, letting them know that the recipient is driving and will respond when it's safe. DriveSmart Plus offers the same functionality, with the added capability to automatically activate when the handset is in a moving vehicle, as well as advanced parental controls for enhanced peace of mind when teen drivers are behind the wheel.

Offered exclusively to TMobile customers, the new T-Mobile Sidekick 4G is expected to be available later this spring in two stylish colors — matte black or pearl magenta. Customers can visit http://sidekick.t-mobile.com/ for more information.


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Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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