The T-Mobile Sidekick iD comes packaged with a travel charger, a carrying case, a wrist strap, a wired headset, and reference material.
In order to make the T-Mobile Sidekick iD more budget-friendly, some features had to be sacrificed, but we think T-Mobile and Danger took it a bit too far. The iD strips out the 1.3-megapixel camera, music player, integrated Bluetooth, expandable media slot, and EDGE support. Axing Bluetooth? Sure, we're in full agreement. The lack of EDGE speeds is questionable, as is the removal of MP3 playback and the expansion slot, but chances are good that most users will have a dedicated MP3 player for their music anyway. No, our biggest gripe is the lack of a camera. Many basic cell phones these days include at least a VGA camera, so we find the omission inexcusable, especially since the Sidekick iD is such a youth-oriented and multimedia-centric device. There is a photo viewer installed on the iD, but obviously without a camera, you'll have to get photos onto the handheld another way (via e-mail, multimedia message, and so on).
Despite the Sidekick iD's shortcomings, we can't deny that it's a solid messaging device. The iD comes preinstalled with AIM, Yahoo, and Windows Live instant messaging clients, and you can have up to 10 simultaneous conversations if you're a social butterfly. To switch between conversations just press the menu and D buttons. And if you happen to lose network connection in the midst of a session, the Sidekick will save the chat until a connection is restored. The Sidekick iD also supports text and multimedia messaging.
The Sidekick iD comes with its own T-Mobile e-mail account with real-time message delivery. Setup is extremely easy, as the device walks you through the whole process when you first turn it on (it's really just a matter of choosing a username and password). The iD also can be configured to access up to three POP3 and IMAP accounts, but e-mail delivery comes in about 15-minute intervals. If you have a Web-based e-mail account like Hotmail, you will need to use the iD's HTML Web browser to check your messages.
As a phone, the Sidekick iD offers a 2,000-contact address book with room in each entry for multiple numbers, an e-mail address, an IM account, a Web URL, a street address, and notes. You can assign contacts to groups, and for caller ID, you can pair an entry with a photo and one of 22 ringtones. You also get speed dial, call forwarding, three-way calling, a call log, a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, and support for T-Mobile's myFaves service. MyFaves gives you unlimited calling to five contacts, regardless of carrier. Plans for myFaves start at $39.99 a month.
Other features on the Sidekick iD include a calendar, a notepad, a task list, one preloaded game, and a download catalog where you can get more ringtones, games, and applications.
We tested the triband (GSM 850/1800/1900; GPRS) T-Mobile Sidekick iD world phone in San Francisco, and call quality was OK. On our end, voices sounded mostly clear both on regular calls and on speakerphone, though there was a slight crackling noise in the background. Our callers said audio was bad on their end, and asked us to repeat ourselves several times. They also reported a weird echo when we put them on speakerphone.
Web browsing was slow. Without the EDGE speeds, simple sites like Google took about a minute to come up while graphics-intensive sites like CNET.com took 2 minutes or more to fully load. On the upside, sending and receiving e-mail via the Tmail account was instantaneous, and we also had no problems setting up the Sidekick iD to access our SBC Global account.
The Sidekick iD is rated for 5.3 hours of talk time and up to six days of standby time. In our battery tests, we were able to get 8 hours of talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the iD has a digital SAR rating of 0.63 watts per kilogram.
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