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.
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.