T-Mobile Sidekick Returns as 4G Android Smartphone

T-Mobile March 15 unveiled its T-Mobile Sidekick 4G, an Android 2.2 smartphone sporting a 3.5-inch display and a QWERTY keyboard. Availability is this spring.

T-Mobile USA teamed with Samsung Mobile to bring back the T-Mobile Sidekick, an Android smartphone sporting a 3.5-inch display and a QWERTY keyboard on the signature pop-tilt hinge for which the Sidekick brand was famous.

While the original Sidekick lacked a touchscreen, the dual-input modes of the Sidekick 4G handset are designed to appease the majority of consumers looking to access their device by touch and type.

However, instead of being based on the Danger operating system and data service owned by Microsoft, the new Sidekick will run Android 2.2 and be powered by a 1GHz processor on T-Mobile's 4G network, capable of delivering potential peak download speeds of up to 21 Mbps.

The Sidekick 4G wouldn't be a Sidekick without serious messaging capability, as evidenced by the 5-row keyboard.

The new device includes Sidekick Group Text and Cloud Text messaging applications. Group Text lets users engage in group text conversations. Cloud Text lets users text with friends or groups across PCs and the Sidekick 4G.

The Sidekick 4G includes a VGA front-facing camera and T-Mobile Video Chat powered by Qik. The Sidekick 4G also features a physical jump key that lets customers switch between live apps during a phone call, or assign keyboard shortcuts.

True to most Android devices, the smartphone will also be integrated with Google services, including Gmail and Google Maps and Android Market access.

The Sidekick 4G comes with DriveSmart from T-Mobile, which notifies callers and senders the recipient is driving and will respond when it's safe. DriveSmart Plus offers the same functionality, though it automatically activates when the handset is in a moving vehicle, and features parental controls for when teen drivers are behind the wheel.

The new Sidekick 4G is preloaded with Facebook and Twitter applications, with users able to update their status from the notification pane and browse their feeds from the home screen. Users may also sync their social network contacts to the phone's address book.

Sidekick 4G also boasts a "media room," a one-stop destination for music, videos, movies, YouTube, T-Mobile TV and Slacker Radio. Customers may rent or purchase their movies and TV programs from the Samsung Media Hub.

The device's pricing and availability have yet to be announced, though T-Mobile said U.S. can expect it in matte black or pearl magenta this spring.

The Sidekick brand is looking to recover after taking some hits in October 2009 when hardware issue on servers run by Microsoft subsidiary Danger wiped the personal data from nearly 800,000 Sidekick users' phones.