The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 is the latest addition to T-Mobile's popular line of cool phones for youngsters, released in the US in July 2008.

The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 has the best mobile-phone keyboard we've ever used, and its trackball lets you whip through messages at lightning speed. Even so, that isn't quite sufficient to sway me to T-Mobile's newest hipster smartphone. Why? The phone's limited productivity uses, and the fact that we're simply not young enough!

The newest Sidekick measures 119x58x18mm; it's roughly the same size as the iPhone 3G, but a little thicker. The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 is a refined Sidekick LX that costs about a little less than its predecessor.

Anyone familiar with Sidekicks will be happy to know that the interface and all of its handy shortcuts have pretty much carried over from the Sidekick LX. The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008's features continue to evolve: for example, it's a snap to add more email accounts (AOL, Windows Live, Yahoo, and POP/IMAP email such as Gmail - but don't try to get the corporate-oriented Lotus Notes working). We've also been a big fan of how Sidekick handsets easily integrate instant messaging (AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo) with fewer hiccups and slowdowns than on other smart phones we've used, and the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 is no exception.

We found the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 comfortable in the hand. It feels solidly built, with its formidable keyboard hidden beneath the 2.75in screen.

Audio sounded good but a little muffled in our tests. The microphone doesn't pick up a lot of ambient noise, and the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 feels all right pressed against your face. And, according to the our battery tests, motormouths can gab for just shy of 9 hours before the Sidekick needs a recharge - good enough for the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 to shine against other PDA phones we've evaluated recently.

You also get Bluetooth support for stereo headsets if you don't like the wired kind; and, if you plan to use this T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 as your primary MP3 player, you can plug almost any headphones into the 3.5mm jack. The player supports the audio formats you'd expect (WAV, WMA, MP3, AAC) and some video formats you might not (3GP and simple-profile MP4).

While the Sidekick line has never been known for stellar images, the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008's 2Mp camera is capable of snagging 1600-by-1200-resolution photos. No flash, mind you, but it's still good for casual snaps. The camera can capture video, too, but only in 20-second clips.

NEXT PAGE: the down sides of the Sidekick 2008

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The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 is the latest addition to T-Mobile's popular line of cool phones for youngsters, released in the US in July 2008.

Unfortunately, along with a lot of the old things we like, many annoying issues linger in the newest Sidekick. The Sidekick's Danger OS remains constrained and sluggish. Maybe we're a little spoiled by the ability to hack Windows Mobile 6.1.

The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 still can't read Microsoft Word documents - a feature that has been lacking since the first Sidekick hit the scene. (And in the States at least, the T-Mobile EDGE data network crawled along at insufferably slow speeds when we browsed the web.)

Our greatest frustration with the Sidekick is its wasted potential: it could be much more than just a kid's phone. Oh, sure, you can buy Intellisync so that you can move Outlook contacts over to the device, or you can dig up the small handful of productivity apps that hide in the download store. And that store holds some gems, such as Melodeo's Mobilcast for grabbing podcast feeds, but even that app needs to get the kinks worked out (audio hiccups and unfulfilling lists of podcasts). For the most part, though, you're choosing from apps such as "Flirting 101", "The Pocket Idiot's Guide to Getting Girls", and a blinged-out digital timepiece for your phone's screen-saver mode.

Together with its customisable removable backplates (gotta love the leopard-print shell!) and the default web bookmarks to places such as PerezHilton.com, everything about this phone screams "teen". That's a far cry from the Sidekick's original billing as a data communicator.

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PCWorld.com

T-Mobile Sidekick 2008: Specs

  • 1030mAh Lithium Ion battery
  • talk time: up to 5 hours
  • standby time: up to 4 days
  • band (frequency): 850MHz
  • 900MHz
  • 1800MHz
  • 1900MHz
  • Included Accessories: 512MB MicroSD card
  • charger
  • Stereo Hands-Free Headset
  • Mini-USB cable
  • Changeable Shells (includes black and green)
  • Bluetooth
  • qwerty keyboard
  • 2Mp camera
  • audio player
  • 119x58x18mm
  • 120g
  • 1030mAh Lithium Ion battery
  • talk time: up to 5 hours
  • standby time: up to 4 days
  • band (frequency): 850MHz
  • 900MHz
  • 1800MHz
  • 1900MHz
  • Included Accessories: 512MB MicroSD card
  • charger
  • Stereo Hands-Free Headset
  • Mini-USB cable
  • Changeable Shells (includes black and green)
  • Bluetooth
  • qwerty keyboard
  • 2Mp camera
  • audio player
  • 119x58x18mm
  • 120g

OUR VERDICT

We're not saying that the Sidekick 2008 is a bad phone - not at all. In fact, we wrote this entire review on its perfect little keyboard (in the body of an email message, of course, since the phone doesn't support Word documents). It's just disappointing that after all these generations on the market, the Sidekick has been relegated to fashionista status.

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