Editors' note: The review and ratings have been updated since the original publish date to reflect the new enhancements that were made with release of the June 2008 over-the-air software update.
First released in October 2007, the T-Mobile Sidekick LX impressed us with its slimmer and lighter design and sharper and larger screen. However, we couldn't help but be a little disappointed by the lack of new features. There were some slight enhancements to the music player and a new MySpace Mobile application, but we were left wanting more. Well, with the new software update that was released in June 2008, we finally got it. (Better late than never, right?) The upgrade finally brings video capabilities, stereo Bluetooth support, and more. This, in addition to the strong e-mail and IM capabilities, will certainly appeal to young messaging fanatics. Current Sidekick LX owners will receive the update over the air, while devices that ship after July 29 will have all the new capabilities built into it. The T-Mobile Sidekick LX is available now for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates and discounts.
The T-Mobile Sidekick LX makes quite a first impression. It's noticeably sleeker and sexier than any of the previous Sidekicks, though technically on paper, the LX isn't that much smaller than the Sidekick 3, measuring 5.1 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep, compared with 5.1 inches wide by 2.3 inches wide by 0.8 inch deep. However, the LX is 1 ounce lighter at 5.7 ounces and the slim handheld is just easier to slip into a pants pocket or purse. Plus, we like its updated look and shape--a tad iPhone-esque actually--and you have your choice of two colors: midnight blue or espresso brown.
Perhaps what we're most excited about is the much-improved screen. The low-resolution displays on the previous Sidekicks have always been a sticking point with us as well as users, but finally Sharp gives our eyes a reprieve. The Sidekick LX now has a larger 3-inch, 65,000-color TFT display and a sharper 400x240-pixel resolution. The difference in quality is amazing, as text and images look crisp and colors are more vibrant. You can also choose to customize the home screen with different background themes and change the font size.
The navigation controls surrounding the screen remain pretty much unchanged from the Sidekick 3 and Sidekick iD. To the left you have the Menu and Jump buttons and a directional keypad that doubles as the phone's speakers, and on the right, there is a Cancel button, Talk and End keys, an OK button, and the trackball navigator. Along the bottom edge of the handheld, you'll find the volume rocker and a power button, while along the top, there are two function buttons that perform different tasks depending on which application you are using. We found this last set of controls a bit hard to press since they're tiny and set flush with the phone's surface.
To expose the full QWERTY keyboard, just nudge the upper-right corner or the lower-left corner of the screen to trigger the swivel mechanism, causing it to rotate a full 180 degrees and snap into place--mind your fingers, though. There are some slight modifications to the buttons, but they're all good and we still think the Sidekick's keyboard is one of roomiest and easiest to use. There's plenty of space between the keys, and the buttons now have a frosted, more tactile feel to them unlike the glossy, somewhat slippery ones on the Sidekick 3. We predict happy thumbs. The one gripe we have, and it's one we've had before, is that you have to open the screen in order to dial any numbers and then close it again to continue with the call. That said, the Sidekick LX is comfortable to hold and use as a phone, and it has a textured back, similar to the D-Wade Limited Edition Sidekick 3, so it's easy to grip while messaging.
There's a mini USB port and good news: a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can plug in a decent pair of headphones. The camera lens, flash, and self-portrait mirror are located on the back, and there's a microSD expansion slot, but it's located behind the battery cover. Finally, for pure flash, you can program the LX to light up like a Christmas tree to alert you to new messages, phone calls, and so forth. There are LEDs built into each of the four corners of the device, and they, as well as the trackball, will flash various colors, depending on what scheme you choose. It's oddly mesmerizing and fun...for about five minutes, but we think it'll definitely appeal to the targeted youth audience.
The T-Mobile Sidekick LX comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a carrying case, a wired headset, a 128MB microSD card, and reference material. For more add-ons for your Sidekick LX, check out our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
While the original release of the T-Mobile Sidekick LX didn't offer too many improvements or additions, the new software update that was released in late June 2008 brought several enhancements. We'll start with the LX's messaging capabilities, since that's a major draw of the device. Like previous models, the LX comes with its own T-Mobile e-mail account, but you can also access up to three additional POP3/IMAP4 accounts. The LX ships with an always-on push e-mail solution so you'll automatically be notified of new messages (with an accompanying light show). Though the Sidekick is definitely not a business-minded smartphone, you can have your corporate e-mail forwarded to the LX, and there's an attachment viewer for Word documents, PDFs, and JPEGs.