I woke up this morning to several reports from people saying they had gotten an OTA for their Sidekick LX 2009. It’s looking like this update is a combination of the bug fix OTA I mentioned awhile back and the new Mobile Backup support. You should hopefully see less crashes in your Sidekick LX 2009 once this update is applied. The OTA may cause your device to hard reset. Don’t freak out though, all your data should be backed up to Danger’s servers, so it’ll come back. And once you have Mobile Backup, your address book will be backed up to T-Mobile’s servers as well! Hooray for backup!
For those hardcore geeks, the new OS version is 5.0/270115. A couple more screenshots:
No, this isn’t some new fancy device that’s going to kill the Sidekick. It’s a corrupted 3gp video file that has the potential to hard reset a Sidekick with very little user interaction that’s out in the wild. That’s right, hard reset, as in wipe out all of your data and force you to redownload it from Danger’s servers. Luckily with the way the Sidekick is designed you won’t lose anything, but it’s still an annoyance to have to wait for all your email, settings, etc to download. It’s also a really nasty trick to play on someone you don’t like.
This was first posted in the PBD forums under a thread titled “Virus In Email?! Important!! Read!!”. I know, my first thought too was, “yeah right, Sidekicks don’t get viruses”. Technically this isn’t a virus, and it isn’t even malicious in intent. It looks like it’s just a bug with the way the email application handles a corrupted video. Needless to say though, it is a serious bug that Danger will hopefully fix in an OTA quickly. This currently affects the new Sidekick 2008, as well as Sidekick LXs with the video OTA.
Want to protect yourself from this sort of crash? In your Email, go under Menu->Settings->Attachments->Remove Attachments of these types, and check “Multimedia”. This will remove any movie files that are attached to emails sent to you, including this nasty one.
For those of you rushing out to get your Sidekick 2008, you may notice that you’ll get an update shortly after connecting to the T-Mobile network. That’s right, a 0 day OTA for the Sidekick 2008 to fix a few performance issues. There’s no official changelist as to what this fixes, but the word on the street is that Sidekick 2008s with v4.7/227383 are getting a “Temperature icon” that signifies overheating when they try to charge. The simple OTA will upgrade you to v4.7/231400 and so far we haven’t been hearing any reports of this overheating alert appearing. So if you’re new device is getting that weird icon, wait till your OTA is received before you run back to the store to return it.
We’ve been waiting for months and months for this device. It’s been quite the cornucopia of rumors, codenames, and speculation. What once was thought to be the Style 2, then the Sidekick Aspen, or maybe the Sidekick Gekko, is officially here, and it’s going by the name of the Sidekick 2008. Yeah, we realize that 2008 is already half over too. We’re not sure why T-Mobile decided to go with an annual naming scheme this time, but as history shows, they can’t decide on a naming convention. Regardless, we’re here today to talk about the Sidekick 2008 *coughgekkocough*. We’re pretty impressed with a device that we had low expectations for. Sure, it’s not a major jump, but it certainly is a nice little device with all the familiar features that Danger does well. It’s a good upgrade candidate for anyone not yet carrying an LX or Slide, as it’s not a ridiculously expensive phone. That being said, let’s jump into the details.
The Bad News
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. The Sidekick 2008 is not 3G. It’s on the slower EDGE network like the other recent Sidekicks. Those of you still waiting for a super fast Sidekick 3G will just have to keep waiting. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, then you may not want to waste your time with the rest of this review.
One of the most important aspects of the Sidekick is the screen and its familiar flip. It’s still here. The screen on the Sidekick 2008 is the same high resolution (400×240 WQVGA) as the Sidekick LX, but it is a bit smaller in size (2.6″ instead of 3″). This actually results in crisper images and much nicer web browsing and picture viewing on the device. You don’t have as big of a picture, but for most of the things you use a Sidekick for, you won’t even notice. Plus you shave off a tiny bit of weight and size. Screen gets a thumbs up.
Keyboard & Buttons
The keyboard on the Sidekick 2008 is very similar to the Sidekick LX. However the keys are ever so slightly smaller, but typing on it is still as easy as ever. That’s one thing that no phone on the market has been able to compete with, the Sidekick’s keyboard. I was a bit concerned with the keyboard size at first, but it hasn’t been too much of an issue. It just might take some getting used to.
One of the things I noticed about the 2008 instantly was that it was significantly lighter than the other Sidekicks. As I was carrying it around I sometimes completely forgot that it was in my pocket. I broke out the scale to get some real world measurements and found that it weighed 4.8oz, the same as the new iPhone 3G. Compare this with 5.7oz for the LX, 6.4oz for the Sidekick 3, 6.49oz for the Sidekick II, and a whopping 7.0oz for a Color Sidekick. If you’re still using a Color Sidekick, it’s time to upgrade.
One of the biggest selling points of the Sidekick 2008 is shells. These simple pieces of plastic are what can turn your phone from ordinary into something flashy and fashionable. T-Mobile will be selling all sorts of standard shells, in a typical range of colors. The device we got our hands on came with a yellow-green shell (like we’ve been seeing in all the Sidekick Gekko graphics) as well as a more subtle black one. The small parts of the device that aren’t covered by the shell (the screen frame, keyboard, and buttons) are a nice simple black as well. Yes, that’s right, right out of the box all you goth kids can finally have a black Sidekick without having to customize it. T-Mobile is also going to have a site where you can create your own shells, share them with others, and buy these custom shells. The shells are going to be created by Skinit.com and we hope they’ll be as nice of quality as the shells that come with the device. We’re also eager to see what sort of shell + custom theme combos people do with their devices. Maybe if T-Mobile doesn’t have a contest, we’ll throw one. Pricing for the shells from T-Mobile is $14.99 apiece or two for $9.99 each.
The camera is not a huge jump in quality, but it’s something. It’s a new 2.0 megapixel camera and it seems to get pretty good quality photos in good light. The camera takes images at a resolution as high as 1600×1200, but does’nt have a flash like the LX. Here are a few pics we snapped with the 2008:
The camera is slightly better, but you’re still stuck recording video in postage-stamp size 176×144 pixels. It’s handy for sending a quick video message to a friend, but don’t expect to record the championship basketball game you went to with the Sidekick. We took a quick little video: Video taken with the Sidekick 2008
The Sidekick 2008 ships with Danger OS 4.7, a slight bump up from the current OS for the Sidekick LX. The OS is virtually identical (we haven’t found any differences yet) to what is on the Sideick LX after the long-awaited video OTA update brings you to v4.6. Just like the Sidekick LX, the Sidekick 2008 also has video playback as well as recording. The Sidekick 2008 has the newer browser that has full page mode as well as a device-optimized mode for viewing web pages. You’ll want to use the full page mode if you want a more “true to original design” web browsing experience, and the device-optimized mode for stripped down and quick web browsing. Oh, and remember that annoying flying icons bug if you had a custom theme and the MySpace app installed? It’s finally fixed. A huge thank you to the developer at Danger/Microsoft that took the time to fix a tiny, yet annoying detail like this. There’s some debate over whether it’s fixed or not.
We’re hearing from T-Mobile that the Sidekick 2008 isn’t going to break the bank and will be available for $149.99 with a 2 year contract. This isn’t the cheapest phone out there, but it’s definitely appealing to get the Sidekick LX features without paying several hundred dollars. The price for the phone without a contract extension will be a bit more for those that don’t want to lock into another 2 years. No official word on this price, but the leaked info from Best Buy makes us think $299.
In the box you’ll get the typical array of accessories. The new charger is well designed, with a plug that flips out when needed. You’ll also get a stereo wired headset/mic, but we bet almost everyone will be picking up Bluetooth headsets since you can now listen to music over them with A2DP now. Two shells are included, a yellow-green one and a plain black one. Once T-Mobile gets the shells site up and running we should see the available options for shells explode.
I like the Sidekick Gekko. It’s not a groundbreaking phone, but it’s a nice daily-use communication device. I’ve been recommending it to friends who are still limping along with a Sidekick II, or an older device. Danger still owns the mobile device instant messaging trophy, as well as the “Best Keyboard” award. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them in one post in the near future. Also, we’re curious to see who’s going to pick up this phone:
Getting a Sidekick 2008?
This will be my first Sidekick! (39%, 1,016 Votes)
I'm upgrading from the Sidekick LX (21%, 555 Votes)
I'm upgrading from the Sidekick 3 (16%, 416 Votes)
I'm upgrading from the Sidekick Slide (9%, 243 Votes)
I'm upgrading from the Sidekick iD (7%, 171 Votes)
Other (specify in comments) (6%, 145 Votes)
I'm upgrading from an earlier Sidekick (2%, 52 Votes)
Apparently Motorola/Danger/T-Mobile have worked out the kinks with the Sidekick Slide and solved the powering off problem at least well enough to sell the phone again. For anyone that was waiting to get a Slide, break out that credit card.
Looks like Danger/T-Mobile have pulled the famous MySpace app from their catalog. Is this perhaps so they can fix the buggy application that has everyone using the browser still? There have been numerousposts on poweredbydanger.com with people complaining about the poor performance and bugs as well as necessary workarounds to fix conflicts with themes downloaded from sk3themes.com, sklxthemes.com, and skslidethemes.com. Up until the app was pulled, you were able to download and install it for free and continue using it until the end of December. After that you would be charged a recurring monthly fee of $1.99. Did Danger/TMobile just treat this freebie as a beta test for an app that wasn’t quite ready for the market but needed to be pushed out in order to compete with the Helio Ocean on paper? Here’s hoping they squash the bugs and deliver a 100% app by the end of the month.
UPDATE: The MySpace App is back in the catalog. No idea why it disappeared briefly.
Looks like T-Mobile has done the right thing and instead of continuing to sell defective Sidekick Slides, they’ve pulled them for the time being. No word yet on what they’ll do to remedy the problem in the long run, but they are offering free upgrades to the blue Sidekick LX for users that are reporting the Sidekick Slide resetting issue. Here is the official word from T-Mobile (via BGR):
“T-Mobile USA suspended sales of the T-Mobile Sidekick Slide™ on Friday evening, Nov. 16, after Motorola – the manufacturer of the device – confirmed that some devices may inadvertently power off when the slide door on the front side of the phone is opened or closed.
T-Mobile has taken this action to help ensure our customers only receive devices we’re confident will perform at their peak, so they can stay effortlessly connected to those who matter most.
Motorola is currently working to identify the root cause of the power cycle issue in affected Sidekick Slide devices. The T-Mobile Sidekick LX™ and Sidekick iD™ are not affected by this issue.
If a customer purchased a Sidekick Slide that is experiencing the unintended power cycle issue, they may contact T-Mobile Customer Care, or go to a T-Mobile retail store, for assistance and to discuss available options.”
We’ve heard from a number of people that this problem has existed for some time. Why T-Mobile would choose to ignore it until a week after release is anyone’s guess. Here’s hoping they’ll come up with a hardware fix and get these things back on the market soon.
We’ve heard a number of reports from various people and sites that there’s a pretty serious flaw with the Sidekick Slide. Those of you that have moved away from the familiar flip of the Sidekick devices may have noticed that this change comes with a problem. Your Slide turns off when you slide the screen. Word has it that this problem existed with the pre-production devices, and we wonder how in the world this was acceptable for production devices. But nevertheless, it appears that this issue isn’t just a few unlucky folks. The crew over at Engadget gave their Slide a test and said it happened 2 out of 30 or so slides. Any true Sidekick users knows that opening the screen 30 times in a day is nothing! BoyGeniusReport says that this is happening with 2 of their devices, and we’ve heard a number of reports from various users via email. To make matters worse, your data is wiped out when this happens. Luckily it’s all returned thanks to Danger’s servers, but if you don’t have coverage, you’re out of luck until you do.
The culprit appears to be a loose connection for the battery. We’ve heard reports of people using a small bit of folded paper or business cards as a shim to wedge the battery more securely in place to fix the problem. No official word from T-Mobile or Danger yet though. So if you’re Sidekick Slide is resetting when you slide the screen, give T-Mobile a call and let them know.