Editors' note: After the initial release of the T-Mobile Sidekick Slide, T-Mobile and Motorola determined that some units had battery contact issues that caused the device to power off after opening and closing the phone. Motorola has since found a solution for the problem and will implement them to existing and new models. If you have an affected unit, or for more information, please check our Crave blog post for all the details.
The T-Mobile Sidekick Slide is one of two new Sidekicks (the other being the T-Mobile Sidekick LX) to makes its debut just in time for the holiday season. Unlike previous models, including the Sidekick 3, the Slide is the first Sidekick to be manufactured by Motorola and features a more compact design and slide-up screen. For the most part, the handheld offers many of the same features as the Sidekick LX, including excellent messaging functions, integrated Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and support for MySpace Mobile. However, we found the Slide's QWERTY keyboard harder to use, and the limited multimedia capabilities is disappointing. All that said, we think the T-Mobile Sidekick Slide is better suited for first-time buyers or newbies, especially with its cheaper $199.99 price tag (with a two-year contract), while diehard Sidekick fans might want to upgrade to the Sidekick LX.
The T-Mobile Sidekick Slide represents a couple of design firsts for the messaging device. Unlike previous Sidekick models, the Slide is made by Motorola and not by Sharp/Danger, but that doesn't mean the company completely redesigned the device. In fact, the Slide keeps the same overall design and navigation controls of previous Sidekicks, so it will be a familiar experience for any previous or current Sidekick owners.
The other major difference between the T-Mobile Sidekick Slide and other Sidekicks is the slide-up screen. Instead of a swivel mechanism, you just push up the bottom of the display to expose the full QWERTY keyboard. The sliding motion is smooth, and the front cover locks into place with a satisfying click. While reviewing the Slide, I had a few people mention that they preferred the slider design over the swivel screen because it felt more secure, which I can understand. Though I haven't heard any stories of screens snapping off on the LX or older Sidekicks, the cover can feel rickety and loose in its open state. That said, I personally prefer Sidekick LX's look and overall design. Clearly, this is a matter of personal style, but it's nice to have an option.
The screen itself measures 2.5 inches diagonally with a 65,000-color output and 320x240 pixel resolution, so images and text looked bright and sharp. At 4.6 inches wide by 2.6 inches high by 0.6 inch deep and 5.3 ounces, the Slide is smaller and lighter than the T-Mobile Sidekick LX, Sidekick 3, and Sidekick iD. It sports a hip and fresh black-and-metallic-purple color scheme and has a nice, solid construction. The backside also features a soft-touch finish, making the handheld easier to grip. We found the Sidekick Slide very comfortable and natural to hold while typing messages, but the bulky shape makes it awkward to use as a phone. It will also make for a tight fit in a pants pocket.
The full QWERTY keyboard features circular buttons that are backlit very well and have a decent amount of spacing between them. However, it's not as roomy as the one found on the Sidekick LX, and I thought the buttons were a bit slippery and stiff to press. To the left of the display, you have the launch buttons for the Menu and MyFaves pages and a directional keypad. The latter is slightly different than previous Sidekicks as it's a large rectangular rather than a smaller square. To the right, there is a Cancel button, Talk and End keys, an OK button, and the trackball navigator.
The right spine houses a mini USB port and, much to our disappointment, a 2.5-millimeter headset jack rather than a 3.5-millimeter jack like the Sidekick LX. This means you'll need an adapter to use regular headphones with the device. Along the bottom edge of the handheld, you'll find the volume rocker and a power button, while there are two function buttons on top 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. Finally, the camera lens is on the back, and the microSD slot is located behind the battery cover. Having the expansion slot in this location is bad enough, but the Slide makes it extra difficult by having it butt up right against the bottom surface so it's difficult and awkward to insert the microSD card.
The T-Mobile Sidekick Slide comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a belt holster, a wired headset, and reference material. For more add-ons for the Slide, please check out our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.