T-Mobile Sidekick LX review: T-Mobile Sidekick LX

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The Good The T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 features a beautiful, high-resolution display and has a thinner design. The handheld also offers 3G, GPS, Flash video support, and Twitter and Facebook integration.

The Bad The GPS integration is a bit clunky, since you can't find your location within Microsoft Live Search. T-Mobile's 3G network isn't as widely available as other carriers, and there's no integrated Wi-Fi. The camera's picture quality wasn't the best, and video playback was poor.

The Bottom Line With the design improvements and addition of features such as 3G and GPS, the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 graduates from a simple messaging handheld to a real connected, all-in-one communication device for the younger crowd.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

Though they share the same name, the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 should not be confused with the original T-Mobile Sidekick LX, which it will eventually replace. The Sidekick LX 2009 is a stand-out with its slimmer design and gorgeous, high-resolution display, but more than that, it brings a host of new features to take the messaging handheld to the next level with the addition of 3G, Flash video support, GPS, and Facebook and Twitter integration. The GPS wasn't the most accurate and we still would have liked to seen the inclusion of Wi-Fi, but other than that, our complaints were minor.

While it's definitely still more for the high school and college crowd, the Sidekick LX 2009 has grown up to be more than just a device for sending text and instant messages. Plus, its thinness gives it an edge over the similarly featured Helio Ocean 2, while the integration of social networking sites makes it more attractive than the AT&T Quickfire. Current Sidekick owners will get first dibs on the new device. Online presales start now for a price of $199 with a two-year contract. For everyone else, the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 will be available in stores nationwide and online on May 13 for $249.99 with a two-year contract.

Manufactured by Sharp, the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 keeps the same overall look as the rest of the Sidekick family but holds the title of being the thinnest Sidekick to date. The handheld measures 5.1 inches wide by 2.4 inches high by 0.6 inch thick and weighs 5.7 ounces, but don't equate slim for flimsy. According to T-Mobile, it has put the device through rigorous testing and found that it's four times more durable than previous versions. Also, the Sidekick LX is still tall compared to other cell phones and smartphones, so while thinner, it's not the most petite handset.

The T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 is the thinnest Sidekick to date.

The Sidekick LX definitely feels solid in hand though; plus, it features a soft-touch finish to give it a nonslippery texture instead of slick, plasticky feel. Sharp also added small grooves on the back of the device where you can rest your index fingers when holding it. Doesn't seem like much of an addition, but it's a nice little touch that makes for a better ergonomic experience.

The smartphone is available in two colors: carbon or orchid. However, if you're not a fan of the colors, you will be able to create custom shells for the Sidekick LX, much like the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008, and T-Mobile's even added the option of laser etching the case. Custom shells will be available starting this summer.

In addition to being the thinnest Sidekick, the Sidekick LX 2009 also boasts the largest and sharpest screen to date. Based on Sharp's Aquos technology, the WVGA display measures 3.2 inches with an 854x480-pixel resolution. We were extremely pleased with the sharpness and brightness of the display. Images and Web pages looked smooth and colors jumped off the high-resolution screen.

The Sidekick LX 2009 boasts a large, high-resolution display.

The user interface will be familiar to Sidekick users. From the main screen, you have shortcuts to the device's main functions, including e-mail, Web browser, T-Mobile MyFaves, Communities, and media player. There's also a Quick Find feature that acts like a universal search function on the Sidekick. You can, of course, customize your background with different themes as well as change the font size.

Surrounding the display are the same navigation controls as the previous Sidekick LX. To the left, there are the Menu and Jump buttons and a directional keypad that doubles as the phone's speaker, and on the right, there is a Cancel button, Talk and End keys, an OK button, and the trackball navigator. On top of the device, there are two function buttons that perform different tasks depending on which application you are in; when you're on the home screen the left key opens your multimedia message in-box while the right key acts as the camera activation/capture button. The bottom features a 3.5mm headphone jack, volume buttons, a power on/off key, and a Mini-USB port.

Of course, two trademarks of the Sidekick are the swiveling screen and full QWERTY keyboard. To flip the display and expose the keyboard, you nudge the upper-right corner of the screen. However, the Sidekick LX 2009's swiveling action isn't quite as smooth as previous Sidekicks. First, it requires quite a hard push to open it and then it doesn't quite lock right into place. It's not a deal breaker, but something we noticed while using the device. We should also note that Sharp and T-Mobile have replaced the four LED notification lights that adorned the four corners of the Sidekick LX 2008 with a single LED that lines the bottom edge (in closed position) of the display. The trackball navigator will also light up to notify you of new messages, Twitter updates, and more.

We found the Sidekick's QWERTY keyboard easy to use.

We've always been fans of the Sidekick's spacious keyboards and the Sidekick LX 2009 is no different. The buttons aren't the biggest, but there's plenty of spacing between them so we had minimal mispresses while typing messages. If anything, the keys were a little stiffer than we like, but overall, we had a good experience. The buttons provided a nice tactile feedback, and there's a dedicated number row in addition to another set of numbers that shares space with some letter keys and highlighted in pink (blue on the carbon model).

Finally, on back of the device, you'll find the camera and flash, and behind the battery cover is the microSD expansion slot. The T-Mobile Sidekick LX comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a 1GB microSD card, a stereo headset, a protective pouch, a recycling bag, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

In the past, we've been a little critical of T-Mobile for not adding enough features or enhancements to new models, but this isn't so much the case with the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009. To start, it's the first Sidekick to have 3G, offering faster data speeds for Web browsing, streaming media, and more. It also nicely complements the added Flash video support on the Sidekick's HTML Web browser, so you can view sites like YouTube. T-Mobile has rolled out its UMTS/HSDPA network to 130 cities and plans to expand to 100 additional cities by the end of 2009. (You can find a coverage map here). Unfortunately, if you're out of a coverage area, you're stuck with EDGE as your only connection source since the Sidekick LX does not offer integrated Wi-Fi.

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