The T-Mobile Sidekick as we once knew it may be gone forever, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the franchise. Far from it actually.
T-Mobile dished out fresh details about the upcoming Sidekick 4G this evening, and the smartphone mixes a bit of the old with the new to offer something that's both familiar to Sidekick fans and modern enough to keep it relevant in today's competitive smartphone market.
Right off the bat, you'll notice that the design doesn't stray far from its roots. You get the five-row keyboard and even the navigation buttons are still located on the corners of the phone.
However, don't think the Sidekick 4G is just a rehash of the previous design. Manufactured by Samsung instead of Sharp this time around, the smartphone is the first Sidekick to have a touch screen (a 3.5-inch WVGA touch screen, to be exact) with a spring-loaded hinge, a front-facing VGA camera for video calls, and a 1GHz Hummingbird processor.
The Sidekick 4G is also 4G capable and can hit theoretical download speeds of 21Mbps, which puts it on par with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and potentially faster than T-Mobile's other 4G smartphones, the T-Mobile G2 and MyTouch 4G.
Hardware aside, the Sidekick 4G was really more about taking the product to the next level, and T-Mobile approached that in a couple of ways. First, it enhanced the messaging capabilities of the smartphone by adding Group Text and Cloud Text features.
Group Text lets you send text messages to a group of people and allows you to reply all, as well as save and manage groups for future communication. You can also share your location and images within the group. Meanwhile, Cloud Text is a Web app that allows you to send and receive text messages from the comfort of your computer, so you don't always have to be tied to your phone.
Another step in evolving the Sidekick brand was moving the smartphone to the Android operating system. The Sidekick 4G will ship running Android 2.2 Froyo and along with the standard Google services, it will come preloaded with the Facebook and Twitter apps and the Qik video chat client (video calls can be made over Wi-Fi or the cellular network).
There's also no shortage of entertainment, as the handset features a Media Room where you can find and organize all your music, videos, and movies, as well as apps like Slacker Radio, YouTube, and T-Mobile TV. Like Samsung's Galaxy S series, the Sidekick 4G is also compatible with Samsung's Media Hub video store, so you can rent and buy movies right from your phone.
Other highlights include a rear-facing 3-megapixel camera, a jump key for easy multitasking, and T-Mobile's DriveSmart app, which will automatically send a customized message alerting any callers or contacts sending you a message that you are currently driving and will respond when it's safe.
Two key details that were not announced today were availability date and pricing, but we do know that the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G is expected to ship this spring and will be available in two colors: matte black and pearl magenta.