Sidekick phones are widely regarded as the original smartphones. In a time when most cell phones had tiny screens and keypads, the swivel screen and Qwerty keyboard of the Sidekick phones were very impressive. Owners fell in love with them because they were something unique in a world of phone clones. Even today, the Sidekick is still widely used for messaging and social media, but it falls short as a business phone due to the small number of applications available. Sidekick phones are sold by T-Mobile in the United States, who have just announced the retirement of the Sidekick LX and 2008 models.
Sidekick phones first appeared in October 2002 when T-Mobile offered the Sidekick 1 for sale. The screen was only two and a half inches in size, which sounds small today but was enormous back then. To the delight of text messaging fans everywhere, the hinged screen swiveled up to reveal a Qwerty keyboard underneath. No longer did you have to waste time doing the keypad shuffle just to send a text message or email. The screen was even big enough to browse websites, although they looked pretty dreary in black and white. Thankfully, a new version appeared in 2003 that had a color screen.
The Sidekick 1 was quickly followed by other Sidekick phones. The Sidekick 2 that was released in 2004 had a new screen and VGA camera. It was thinner than the original and could use interchangeable shells. The Sidekick 3 was launched in July 2006, with several limited editions appearing soon after. New features included an MP3 player, Bluetooth connectivity, and support for instant messaging services. The Sidekick iD that appeared the following year was similar to Sidekick 3 but did not have a camera, MP3 player, or Bluetooth.
In October 2007, the most widely anticipated model was finally launched. The Sidekick LX featured a high-definition screen, larger keyboard, microSD card slot, new software, and even mood lights. The Sidekick Slide that appeared less than one month later had a sliding screen instead of one that swiveled. The Sidekick 2008 was launched the next year, around the same time that the Slide was discontinued. In 2009, an improved version of the hugely popular Sidekick LX was finally launched.
The latest model is the Sidekick LX 2009, which now features 3G support. The designers took the popular Sidekick LX and make it even more stylish and functional. Another improvement was the 3.2 megapixel camera, with autofocus and flash. The software got a major overhaul and now supports social media websites, like Facebook and Twitter. GPS capability was added and integrated with the Microsoft Bing search engine. Several other design and technical improvements were also made. All of these improvements have won the Sidekick LX 2009 several editor’s choice awards.
DangerOS is the operating system installed on Sidekick phones. It has all the usual features you would expect to find on a smartphone, such as a calendar and address book. It also provides support for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube. Developers can make software applications for Sidekick phones and sell them through the Download Catalog. There are not as many applications available as there are on Apple iStore, but there is still a good selection to choose from. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent to Apple iTunes, so users have to upload music files from their computers.
As you would expect, there are plenty of accessories for Sidekick phones. You can customize the appearance by changing the shell case or by applying large stickers to it. Leather pouches, screen protectors, and case protectors help prevent scratch marks and minor dents. When traveling, it is a good idea to take a travel charger and replacement battery along with you, just in case you are unable to recharge your Sidekick.