Pros: Sidekick is an easy to use Android phone with real keyboard and touchscreen .
Cons: The Samsung Sidekick 4G does occasionally freeze up.
I finally got a Smart Phone thanks to T-Mobile's upgrade plan, and I have to say that I love it. A couple years ago I had a Blackberry that had more problems than it was worth, but my new Samsung Sidekick 4G Smart Phone is everything I could want in a phone and a lot more.
What's in the Box?
The Samsung SGH - T839 aka the Sidekick 4G comes with your not so basic awesome Android based smart phone, a Plug in Charger, a Battery, a mini SD card, an SD card adapter so that you can plug your mini SD card into any computer's card reader, a USB connector and an instruction manual. It was pretty easy to put in the partially charged battery, SD card and get the phone up and running. The SD card holds 2 Gigabytes but like everything, you can go out and buy a bigger card. So far the initial 2 Gigs works fine for me, because I don't store a lot of music on my phone, but prefer to listen to music apps that stream music into the phone.
The Samsung Sidekick Design
This is an update of the old sidekick design. It is a fully loaded 4 G Android phone. 4G means its a fast network, and Android means that it uses the Android operating system for which over 40,000 apps, including Angry Birds, can be loaded onto your phone. The phone is definitely larger than my last no featured flip phone, but it does so much more. The screen takes up the whole face of the phone and it is a touch screen. Tap on an app to open. You can use a virtual touch screen keyboard for any app that requires you to type in information. The whole screen also rotates vertically or horizontally depending on how you are holding the phone.
Full Keyboard However, here is my favorite part for guys with fat fingers like me. Hold the phone horizontally so that the touch screen looks like a widescreen monitor and push it. The touch screen gently slides over and up revealing a touch keyboard underneath. The phone now looks like a mini laptop computer with the keyboard in the front and the monitor flipped up. For those not as savvy with a touch screen keyboard, the actual minature keyboard can be a lot easier to use.
Back to the Vertical closed look, and I will describe the remainder of the buttons. On the right side at the bottom is the on/off switch. Holding it for a moment will light up the screen, which you then slide open with your finger. On the right near the top is the volume switch and the input for headphones. I use my phone in my car at times plugging it into the car stereo or with Skull Candy Ink'd headphones to listen to the wide variety of music options. For a phone though, the build in speaker is surprisingly clear and loud.
On the left side is the camera button near the bottom and the USB input near the top.
On the front at the bottom right is an arrow button which brings the touch screen to the last screen like the back button of a browser. The built in microphone is here to both talk on your phone or talk to your phone. Yes, Android has many awesome voice apps, including virtual assistants and voice activated google searches. A Button at the bottom left brings up a list of touch screen options for whatever app you are in.
On the top of the phone are speaker and camera inputs and two more important buttons. To the Right is the JUMP Screen button. If you press the jump screen button, the touch screen displays the last several apps you were in, and allows you to simply tap the one you want. The button to the left brings you to the home screen on the touch screen.
The Sidekick fits easily into my hand to use, and fits into most pockets. I would not bring this phone into a heavy metal mosh pit or any other high contact arena however, as the touch screen is exposed, and I would imagine it would break on impact. I did purchase a Ferrari racing red protection case for my phone that looks pretty cool.
The Samsung Touch Screen
The Touch screen has SEVEN home screens that you can flip through with your finger. You can organize your apps onto the seven screens for quick access. At the bottom are three touch screen buttons, phone home/app and contacts.
Phone button brings up a standard touch screen dialer, as well as a call log and voice mail options or a list of favorites. You can easily turn on the speaker phone as well.
Home/Apps button brings up one or the other. THe home button brings up the 7 home screens on which you can see your selected wallpaper and the apps that you have assigned to each of the 7 home screens. The app button brings up a list of ALL of your applications that you have downloaded to your Android phone. I've organized my phone so that one screen has the weather, one screen has music apps, radio stations and players, another has several news sources etc. You can organize your home screens however you'd like and its easy to do. The app screen just gives a list of each app in alphabetical order. Each app is represented by a little square icon.
Contacts This button brings up a list of contacts. You can select photos, assign cell phone, office numbers, list the address and even assign ring tones for each of your friends, family and clients. or the pizza shop.
What Can You Do with the Phone?
Phone! Yes, you can call and receive phone calls, send text messages and receive text messages. The layout and sound quality is great. Making calls can involve a few steps though from unlocking the phone to bringing up the phone app. Also it took me a bit of time to learn how to answer the phone, you have to swipe Accept just right to accept calls.
Camera No flash? Did someone call in sick the day Samsung designed the camera? This is my only real complaint about the phone, it was completely stupid to leave out a flash. Otherwise day light pictures look fine as long as the lighting is good. I actually used this to file a Visa application for one of my clients when I realized we needed a photo for an online application. I snapped the photo and e-mailed to myself and was able to use it.
GPS Your phone knows where you are. Built in GPS allows your phone to guide you along roads, bike trails or just bring up local restuarants and movie theaters. Remember to shut it off when you go murder someone, because your phone knows what you did last summer.
WIFI / Bluetooth Your phone can tap into bluetooth or wi fi networks. I have mine programmed to both my home and office wi fi nets so that downloads don't even count on our cell phone plan. ( I have a plan that limites high speed connectivity after 5Gs). It is easy to set up and once set up, you don't have to enter passwords again.
Music Player Download songs from your computer, install SkyFM, listen to the BBC Radio, get Slacker Radio, get Pandora, your phone can play music! Although the built in speaker isn't great for music, when you either plug in headphones or plug this into your stereo, the sound quality is as good as an MP3 player. In fact some apps for a price, offer CD quality. You can also buy music with the phone.
Movie Player Youtube to Netflix, your little Samsung Sidekick will let you watch the latest youtube videos, TV shows or even movies with the right apps. I have a youtube app that lets me search for any music video or cat video on the internet. Netflix (with subscription, but no extra charge for use on the phone) allows you to watch music and movies on your phone. For a little picture the quality is pretty good, and can make a long wait somewhere go fast. You can even buy movies to watch on your phone or subscribe to TV services.
Net Browser This Android phone has full internet access, so it allows you to download the mobile version of your favorite browser and go online. I do need my reading glasses to read, but a couple button presses can enlarge the screen.
E-Mail You can check online e-mail, although the phone works best with gmail, Googles e-mail system. It is also easy to send e-mail with the phone.
eBook Reader You can read books on your phone, most of the major ebook reader apps are available. I have Kindle on my phone. Granted I prefer the larger screen of my actual kindle, but if I forget it and want to read, I can. Of course you can buy books online.
Planner A number of to do list applications and planning apps are all available for Android.
Games There are games galore from the ever popular Angry Birds to a plethora of puzzle solving games, word games, zombie games, side scrolling platform games, racing games, you need never be bored as long as you have your phone.
Personal Companion Thanks to Siri like technology for the Android app market, you can download a number of virtual assistants who will talk to you make phone calls for you, find movies for you, or just look up information for you. However, they will NOT open the pod bay doors for you.
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Good Points - Touch screen and full qwerty keyboard. Use either one or both. Good Sound quality, easy to set up and use. Loads of useful features including 4G, Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS and more.
Bad Points Camera has no flash. Phone does freeze on occasion. Calls may drop when switching from a Wifi zone into a 4G zone. It takes the phone a moment to realize you've left the range of a wifi area and to connect to the 4G network. Your call may be dropped in that brief moment. A connection is required for many of hte apps.
The Ugly So far, my phone is smart and sexy. However, I would worry about breaking the touch screen.
I love my Samsung Sidekick 4G Android Smart phone!!! Now I too can play Angry Birds. I can talk to my lovely British assistant. I can listen to radio stations around the world, read international news, find out where I am and where I am going and so much more.
My 20 Favorite Android apps (actually quite a few more)