During the past couple of weeks, we've seen pieces of the puzzle falling into place--leaked images and internal memos, FCC approval, a scheduled New York launch event. However, Thursday night, T-Mobile put all the speculation to rest and added the final and definitive piece to the puzzle. The end product? The new T-Mobile Sidekick LX.
Not to be confused with the original Sidekick LX, which it will eventually replace, the Sidekick LX 2009 offers a slimmed-down design and some great new features, including 3G, Flash video support, and Twitter integration.
Current Sidekick owners will get first dibs on the new device. Online presales start now for a price of $199 with a two-year contract. If ordered by April 30, customers will receive their Sidekicks on May 12; if ordered after April 30, the device will be delivered within 7 business days. For everyone else, the Sidekick LX will be available in stores nationwide and online on May 13, but final price had not yet been determined.
To come clean, we actually got a preview of the T-Mobile Sidekick LX at CTIA 2009, but we couldn't say anything because of nondisclosure agreements. However, now that the cat's out of the bag, we can talk about all the features and our first impressions.
Manufactured by Sharp, the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 is currently the thinnest Sidekick, measuring 5.1 inches wide by 2.3 inches high by 0.6 inch thick and weighing 6 ounces. Despite the slimmer design, according to T-Mobile, it has put the device through rigorous testing and found that it's four times more durable than previous versions. It definitely felt solid in hand; plus, the smartphone features a soft-touch finish to give it a nonslippery texture instead of slick, plasticky feel. There are also grooves on the back where you can rest your index fingers when holding the device. It doesn't seem like much, but it's a nice little touch that makes for a better ergonomic experience.
The smartphone will come in two colors: carbon or orchid. Also, if you're not a fan of the colors, you will be able to create custom shells for the Sidekick LX, much like the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008, and T-Mobile's even added the option of laser etching the case.
In addition to being the thinnest Sidekick, the Sidekick LX 2009 also boasts the largest and sharpest screen to date. Based on Sharp's Aquos technology, the WVGA display measures 3.2 inches with an 854x480-pixel resolution and swivels open to reveal the full QWERTY keyboard. The screen was indeed sharp and bright, and we've always been a fan of the Sidekick's keyboard. There's good spacing between the buttons and the quality feels better on the Sidekick LX. Other highlights include a 3.5mm headphone jack, a microSD expansion slot (phone ships with a 1GB microSD card), and mood/notification LEDs along the top edge of the screen.
In the past, we've been a little critical of T-Mobile for not adding enough features or enhancements to new models, but this isn't so much the case with the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009. To start, you get 3G support for faster Web browsing. It also nicely complements the browser's added Flash video support, so you can view sites like YouTube. Not only that, but you'll also be able to upload and share videos, even to MySpace, with the built-in 3.2-megapixel camera.
As always, the Sidekick LX plays for a younger crowd, so there's plenty of support for social networking applications. In addition to MySpace Mobile, the Sidekick LX now ships with Facebook and Twitter integration. Like previous versions, you get a dedicated T-mail e-mail address and support for POP3/IMAP accounts, but T-Mobile has also added Exchange ActiveSync support. While we don't expect to see too many corporate types toting the Sidekick, we appreciate the added functionality.
The quad-band phone also has built-in GPS with Microsoft Live Search, Bluetooth 2.0 (A2DP supported), Quick Find universal search, and AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo instant messaging clients. If anything, we would have liked to have seen some enhancements to the music player, which pretty much remains the same.
Overall, we liked what we saw of the T-Mobile Sidekick LX. The 3G and Flash video support are huge and so is the Facebook and Twitter integration--should be a hit with its target audience. The phone won't win any beauty contests (there's something a little odd about it that I can't quite pinpoint), but again, the thinner design, the soft-touch finish, and finger grooves add up to a nice user experience. We're expecting to get a review unit before the national launch on May 13, so of course, we'll have a full review, video, and hands-on photos then.
In the meantime, you can check out some beauty shots of the T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 below. Also, for all those wondering about the April 21 private launch event in New York, it will be dedicated to the Sidekick LX and only the Sidekick LX, nothing else (read: no T-Mobile G2 yet. Sorry.) CNET TV's Natali del Conte will be at the event so check back later for video of the party and a closer look at the new Sidekick.