UPDATE: This “first impressions” review was written after a relatively short time with this Android smartphone. A more complete version based on extensive testing is available here:
While it may bear the same name as the old “Sidekick” phones built by Danger Inc. before that company was bought out by Microsoft a few years ago, the new T-Mobile Sidekick 4G has little in common with it’s ancestors. Besides having a new manufacturer — this model is being built by Samsung — the new Sidekick also has a massive set of internal upgrades, taking it into the realm of a true smartphone.
After a brief time with this smartphone, I’m ready to share my first impressions, and a full review will be available when I’ve had time for complete testing.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Sidekick 4G is built along fairly common lines: a large central screen which slides out to reveal a thumb keyboard, allowing you to switch between a traditional phone shape and a large keyboard suitable for messaging and data entry.
The biggest difference between this and similarly built models is that the Sidekick, being a primarily messaging-oriented device, is more explicitly designed for comfort when in landscape mode. The screen is exactly mid-way along the device to make the keyboard comfortable for both thumbs to reach; buttons are on either side of it for ease of access while positioned this way. The corners are also rounded to better fit against the hand.
The button placement does make it a little harder to use in portrait mode, since then, you have needed buttons on either end of the screen.
The build quality is what we’ve come to expect out of Samsung’s smartphones over the last few years: it looks good, it feels good, and it’s highly usable. At first glance, I worried about the keyboard, because the buttons seemed rather flat. As it turns out, I was worried about nothing–the keyboard is not just usable, but extremely good, with great key feedback. In fact, it’s among the most usable thumb keyboards I’ve come across.
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