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T-Mobile Sidekick 4G (Samsung SGH-T839)

 T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Available now
17th March 2011

T-Mobile's Sidekick line has been hugely popular in the US for several years, but it was effectively killed off by a massive data disaster by T-Mobile's aptly named partner called Danger, owned by Microsoft. Given the mess-up, it was clear that the existing Sidekick platform was no longer viable, and T-Mobile terminated their relationship with Danger and Microsoft.

However, the Sidekick is back with the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G, and this time it's a full-fat Android smartphone connected to the "My T-Mobile" service for data synchronisation and more. Not only is the Sidekick 4G the first Android-based Sidekick, but it is the first Sidekick device to be manufactured by Samsung rather than Sharp who made most of the previous versions. The "Samsung" name is proudly displayed on the back of the Sidekick 4G, capitalising on the rather good reputation that Samsung have when it comes to Android devices.

Despite the big changes to this new Sidekick, it does manage to look remarkably like its predecessors. The main feature that sets Sidekicks apart is the very characteristic and well laid-out QWERTY keyboard hidden behind the sliding display. Although we haven't tried it, the Sidekick 4G does look to have one of the best QWERTY keyboards on the market.

 T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Another characteristic Sidekick feature is the button arrangement to either side of the QWERTY pad (or the top and bottom of the screen, depending on orientation). This arrangement does mean that the Sidekick 4G is quite big - at about 127 x 61 x 15mm (or 5.0 x 2.4 x 0.6 inches) it has a similar footprint to the Samsung Galaxy S which has a much bigger screen - but it's still very much in line with older Sidekick models.

The display is a 3.5" 800 x 480 pixel panel, and another first for the Sidekick range is that this is a touchscreen. Oddly enough neither T-Mobile nor Samsung state the resolution anywhere in their press material, but they are visible in the T839's device profile. It's not a particularly big screen, but it is quite high resolution and should cope with almost any web page or video playback that you might want to do.

 T-Mobile Sidekick 4G On the back is a fairly basic 3 megapixel camera plus a front-facing video calling camera, the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G also has a 2GB microSD card in the standard sales package, supports Bluetooth, HSPA+ data, WiFi, comes with GPS and everything else that you'd expect from an Android 2.2 smartphone.

Inside is a 1GHz Cortex A8 processsor, plus a battery quoted as giving up to 6.5 hours talktime. The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G weighs about 162 grams (or 5.7 ounces).

T-Mobile USA do insist on calling their HSPA+ service "4G".. which it isn't as it is just the latest (and probably last) revision of 3G data, so perhaps 3.9G might be a better name. Still, with download speeds of up to 21Mbps (where supported) then it doesn't really matter.

Because this is an Android 2.2 smartphone then it does everything that Android does, plus the Sidekick 4G comes with a range of software enhancements to meet the expectations of existing Sidekick fans.

Heading for T-Mobile USA only at the moment in the late spring, the Sidekick 4G will be available in "matte black" and "pearl magenta" colour schemes. We don't know about availability anywhere else, but this is one Sidekick device that we think might sell rather well in Europe if it ever got the chance.

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T-Mobile Sidekick 4G (Samsung SGH-T839) at a glance

Available:

Q2 2011

Network:

GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 2100 / 1700/2100 (Band I & IV)

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSPA + HSPA+ + WiFi

Screen:

3.5" 480 x 800 pixels

Camera:

3.0 megapixels (main)

Plus video calling camera

Size:

Large slider
121 x 61 x 15mm / 162 grams approx.
5.0 x 2.4 x 0.6in / 5.0 ounces

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

MicroSD

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Optional

GPS:

Yes

OS:

Android 2.2

Battery life:

6.5 hours talk / 19 days standby

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