Another area where EDGE helps enhance performance is e-mail. The T-Mobile Sidekick 3 comes with its own e-mail account, which you can use after registering, but just as before, you can access up to three additional POP3/IMAP4 accounts. Plus, you'll never miss a beat, because you're automatically notified when you get new mail, thanks to its always-on push e-mail solution. If you receive attachments with your e-mail, that's no problem either. The Sidekick 3 can open and display Word documents, PDFs, and JPEGs; however, you cannot edit said files. And though this isn't really a businesscentric device, you can have your corporate e-mail forwarded to the Sidekick with a little help from your IT department.
If you need immediate communication with friends and family, the Sidekick comes preloaded with three of the major instant-messaging clients: AOL, Yahoo, and MSN. You can hold up to 10 simultaneous conversations, and you can switch between conversations quickly by pressing the Menu and D buttons. And if you happen to lose your network connection in the midst of a session, the Sidekick will save the chat until a connection is restored. The Sidekick 3 also supports text and multimedia messaging.
As a phone, the T-Mobile Sidekick 3 offers all the standard features, including speed dial, call forwarding, three-way calling, a call log, a vibrate mode, and a speakerphone. The Sidekick's address book holds up to 2,000 contacts, with room in each entry for five numbers, an e-mail address, an IM account, a Web URL, a street address, and notes. For caller-ID purposes, you can pair an entry with a photo, a group ID, or one of 22 ring tones.
The T-Mobile Sidekick 3 now comes equipped with a 1.3-megapixel camera (vs. the Sidekick II's VGA camera), but oddly, it can't record video. You can take snapshots in three sizes--1,280x1,024, 640x480, or 320x240--and adjust the quality from low to high. Other than that, your editing options are limited, and you can activate the flash, change the exposure setting, and turn sharpness on or off--that's about it. You can take up to 131 pictures at the largest size, and there's a convenient photo counter at the top of the screen so that you can keep track. You can store up to 1.75MB of photos on the Sidekick's internal memory (there is a total 64MB of SDRAM and 64MB of flash memory), or you can save them to your memory card. If you'd like to share them with family and friends, you can send them via e-mail or play them in a slide show on your device.
Also new to the T-Mobile Sidekick 3 is a built-in music player. It's pretty rudimentary and supports only MP3 and WAV files, but we still appreciate its inclusion. Using the included USB cable, you simply drag and drop tracks from your PC to the Sidekick, which should show up as an external drive on your PC. Once the files are on your device, you can search for songs by artist, album, genre, or composer, as well as organize tracks into playlists.
Other features include a calendar, a to-do list, and notes. You get the same old Rock and Rocket game that's been on previous versions of the Sidekick, and once again, customization options are pretty sparse. You can choose from four backgrounds, but that's about it. There is a download catalog, however, where you can get more ring tones, games, and applications.
We tested the triband (GSM 900/1800/1900; EDGE) T-Mobile Sidekick 3 world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network, and overall, call quality was good. Volume was more than adequate, and conversations sounded loud and clear. Our callers reported the same, but unfortunately, they weren't singing the same praises when we activated the speakerphone. They said our voice was garbled and that our female voice sounded mannish--yikes. On a brighter note, we had no problems pairing the Sidekick 3 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset.
Surfing the Web on the Sidekick was a great experience. Load times for even graphics-intensive sites were fast, although there was a bit of scrolling involved. Listening to MP3s on the Sidekick's speakers left much to be desired. The sound was weak and tinny, and any outside noise drowned out the volume, even at its highest level. However, quality improved when we plugged in the included earbuds. The Sidekick's 1.3-megapixel camera didn't produce the sharpest pictures. Instead, lines were a bit blurry and colors were faded--definitely not printworthy but OK for the fun snapshot.
The T-Mobile Sidekick 3 is rated for 4.5 hours of talk time and up to three days of standby time. In our tests, we managed to beat the rated talk time by half an hour. According to FCC radiation tests, the Sidekick 3 has a digital SAR rating of 0.50 watt per kilogram.
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