Sidekick's line of smartphones has long been popular with the young, hip crowd. (Remember when Paris Hilton's Sidekick was hacked, and her personal photos and contacts were distributed across the Web?) While the Sidekick has lost some of its cool quotient since the introduction of the iPhone, the company hopes to reverse that trend with the Sidekick Slide. This is a good-looking smartphone with excellent messaging and multimedia features, but there are some drawbacks when using it to make calls.
All previous Sidekicks featured a swivel design, in which the phone's screen twists open to reveal the keyboard. The Slide lacks this swivel format; as its name suggests, the Slide slides open instead.
PROS: The Slide sports an attractive black and electric blue case, with a comfortable soft-touch finish. The phone is easy to hold, and well-designed for typing with both thumbs.
CONS: The QWERTY keyboard is a disappointment. The keys are small (even for a smartphone), slippery, and hard to press.
PROS: Voice quality is very good. I was able to hear callers easily, and they said the same thing about me.
CONS: Dialing a phone number can be cumbersome. You have to slide the screen open and enter the number using the keyboard. (If you've already entered a contact into your address book, you can initiate a call with the phone closed, though.) Once the call is connected, you can close the phone--and to talk comfortably, you'll have to. This additional step isn't a deal-breaker, but it can be a nuisance. The Slide also feels slightly bulky and heavy when held during a lengthy call.
Browsing the Web
PROS: Viewing Web pages on the big (2.5 inch), bright screen is easy on the eyes.
CONS: The Slide, which is available from T-Mobile, supports the EDGE data network. This is not a true high-speed, 3G data network, and it shows: Pages and images can be slow to load.
PROS: The Slide lets you send and receive e-mail from four accounts (one Tmail account from T-Mobile, as well as three additional AOL, Yahoo!, and POP/IMAP accounts). Adding a Yahoo! or AOL account to the phone is a snap; you simply enter your username and password. Adding a POP or IMAP account requires entering a bit more information, such as your mail server, but it can be done quickly.
Once the mail accounts are created, each is displayed on its own tab within the mail interface, and navigating between accounts is easy.
In addition to e-mail, the Slide supports instant messaging via AOL's AIM, Microsoft's Live Messenger, or Yahoo! Messenger.
CONS: The keyboard. As I mentioned earlier, typing can be a chore--and that's a drawback when using email and IM.
CONS: Software is a true weakness for the Slide, and all Sidekick phones. They run a proprietary operating system which supports very few third-party applications. If you're looking to edit--or even view--word processing files or spreadsheets, this is not the phone for you.
PROS: The Slide includes a decent audio player and a 1.3 megapixel camera.
CONS: The camera lacks a flash, and the photos it captured were only decent at best. It cannot capture or playback video.
The Sidekick Slide is available from T-Mobile for $200 (after discounts and rebates, when signing a new two-year service agreement). If you're looking for a phone with strong messaging features, it's worth a look. But if productivity software is important to you, keep looking.