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T-Mobile Readies Android Sidekick 4G

3/15/2011 12:17:23 PM Eastern

Bellevue, Wash. - T-Mobile is
following through on plans to offer an Android-based 4G version of its Sidekick-branded
phone, announcing spring availability of the Samsung-made Sidekick 4G at a
price not yet revealed.

hinged
 Mobile

The device will be sold through
T-Mobile-branded stores and national retailers in matte black or pearl magenta,
the carrier said.

Like its predecessors, the device
is designed particularly for messaging and web browsing but adds all the
capabilities of the Android 2.2 smartphone OS and Samsung's 1GHz Cortex A8
Hummingbird processor.

 Also for the first time, the SideKick gets a
touchscreen, which faces up like a typical smartphone's touchscreen to enable
users to dial and access apps. The touchscreen also pops up at an angle via a
pop-tilt hinge to reveal a five-row QWERTY keyboard, which was also available
on the previous Sidekick. When the screen is popped open, it faces the user at
an angle, creating a laptop-like appearance.

Previous versions of the Sidekick
lacked a hard or soft dialing keypad on the outside. Dialing was done on part
of the QWERTY keypad.

Other features include such new
messaging features as Sidekick's Group Text and Cloud Text services. Group Text
lets customers create, name, manage and participate in reply-all group text
conversations that can include any SMS-capable cellphone, whether a low-end
phone or smartphone. Cloud Text lets users text with friends or groups from a
PC, not just a Sidekick 4G.

Another new feature is a VGA
front-facing camera and pre-installed Qik Video Chat capability.

The device features HSPA+ 4G
technology to deliver theoretical peak download speeds of up to 21 Mbps.

Other features include preloaded
with Facebook and Twitter applications, ability to update social-network status
from a notification pane, browse their social-network feeds from the home
screen, sync social-network contacts to the phone's address book, and a jump
key to make multitasking easier. The jump key is a physical button that lets
users switch between active applications, even during a phone call, or assign
keyboard shortcuts to favorite functions or applications.

Other new messaging features
include DriveSmart Basic and DriveSmart Plus, both designed to encourage users
not to text while driving.  The Basic
feature sends a customizable note to callers and senders, letting them know
that the recipient is driving and will respond later. DriveSmart Plus offers
the same functionality but automatically activates, presumably via a speed
sensor, when the handset is in a moving vehicle. It also offers parental
controls.

Like other Samsung-made
smartphones, the Sidekick 4G accesses Samsung's Media Hub service, enabling
users to download rented or purchased movies and next-day TV show titles from
CBS, Fox, MTV Networks, NBC Universal, Paramount and Warner Brothers.

Sidekick's Media Room folder
place music, videos, movies, YouTube, T-Mobile TV and Slacker Radio apps in one
place and lets users search for content across the apps.