T-Mobile Sidekick II
At a Glance
T-Mobile Sidekick II Phone
In an unusual design, this PDA phone sports a sliding LCD and a comfy keyboard that is fun to use for instant messaging.
T-Mobile's Sidekick II is fun to use, with a comfortable keyboard and generally swift performance. But this PDA hybrid phone has a few weaknesses, mainly having to do with a poorly designed phone component.
Part of the Sidekick II's charm is its quirky design. The screen swivels up, exposing the QWERTY keyboard underneath. The side panels consist of a rubberized cover that makes the device easy to grip. It contains four navigation buttons on each corner of the screen area, for home, menu, close, and enter. A scroll wheel makes it easy--and snappy--to navigate menus icons. Unfortunately, the power button was difficult to press, requiring an emphatic nudge to turn the unit on or off.
The rubbery keyboard was terrific and comfortable to use, even for hours of exchanging instant messages or e-mail missives. The Sidekick supports AOL's instant messaging and e-mail apps, and you can set up Yahoo Messenger, and POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts, too. Browsing the Internet was smooth, though the slow GPRS connection was a drag and the screen could use a higher brightness level. Another pedestrian feature is the VGA (640 by 480) resolution camera, which produced dark and grainy photos.
The unit's phone functionality has improved a bit over its predecessor's: It now has numbers on the keyboard as opposed to only on an on-screen dial pad. But the device is too bulky and feels awkward to hold against your ear. I also found the earpiece volume level too low. In a few of my calls, the incoming and outgoing voice quality sounded fine. But often I couldn't hear callers very well, and they said I sounded far away. Talk-time battery life, on the other hand, was terrific, lasting 9 hours, 27 minutes in our tests.
The Sidekick II is pricey, at $300 (as of April 7, 2006, with a two-year contract). Though I liked the text input capability, I would wait for the price to drop before seriously considering adopting this model as my mobile messaging sidekick.