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T-Mobile’s Sidekick 4G finally sees the light

by Lauren Mitchell

Move over Batman, Robin’s back. This spring, T-Mobile will debut the newest generation of Samsung’s Sidekick. The smartphone cult classic returns, combining past favorite features and enhanced superhero capabilities.

While the Sidekick has been teen market-focused in the past, the new generation is all grown up with a mature outlook featuring 4G network capabilities and the Android operating system. Running Android 2.2, not the classic Sidekick OS, the less flashy new model trades its video game-esque noises and "disco ball" glowing trackball for customizable notification sounds and three alert LEDs. The new matte black (also available in magenta) model features a 3.5-inch bright and sharp WVGA display, 800x480 screen, and a zippy 1GHz Hummingbird processor.

Interacting with the phone is easier with the addition of a touchscreen and navigation buttons instead of those confusing icons from previous generations. The phone includes a tweaked custom UI written by T-Mobile and Samsung based on Samsung TouchWiz. It also brings a group/cloud text feature, enabling messaging among phone and PC users, as well as preloaded Facebook and Twitter apps.

Worried you won’t love this phone as much as your last Sidekick? Have no fear; the phone maintains its Sidekick-iness by keeping close to the original’s physical design, including the fan favorite bubble button keyboard with its super-speed texting capabilities. The traditional Sidekick multitasking "jump key" returns as well and now lets users flip between active applications.

Although it's not meant to compete with the higher-end 4G smartphone offerings by Sprint and Verizon, the Android features make the Sidekick relevant in today's marketplace. That being said, with another 4G phone nipping at the heels of the iPhone, Apple’s iPhone 5 better be 4G enabled and quickly on its way, right?

Samsung’s modernized Sidekick successfully balances exciting enhancements and features enjoyed in previous models, proving that although the race to be user-friendlier and faster is never-ending, Samsung’s new Sidekick deserves its moment in the spotlight. Pick up a new Sidekick for $99.99 after rebate with a qualifying unlimited data plan… and of course a new two-year contract. It will also be available for $149.99 with other data plans.

T-Mobile recently announced that the company will be acquired by AT&T for $39B. Though the fine print says the acquisition is pending a long regulatory approval, could this be the last Sidekick phone to hit the market under the T-Mobile name?