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)
Total Voters: 2,596