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Life with the Sharp/T-Mobile Sidekick LX

So the friendly people at T-Mobile recently provided me with a Sharp/T-Mobile Sidekick LX to review. After unboxing it, I played with it for a couple weeks. The result? My first time using a Sidekick. The verdict? A mixed bag.

– Hardware:
The Sidekick LX is a deceptively large device. But it’s relatively light, and it’s well proportioned – its extra size is only noticeable when placed side-by-side with other phones. It looks thin, but it actually matches the T-Mobile G1 in the X dimension.

Build quality is fine – it looks and feels a lot better than other Sidekick devices I’ve sampled, with tasteful chrome accents and a lovely purple-ish color on this “orchid” model. I wouldn’t call this phone attractive, but it’s not offensive either.

At 854×480 pixels, the 3.2″ WVGA screen steals the show – it’s absolutely stunning! The keyboard is excellent except for the spacebar, which lacks tactile feedback. Perhaps this was a problem specific to my unit?

It’s the first Sidekick with 3G, GPS, and a 3.2 megapixel camera (with auto-focus and flash). It also features a 3.5 mm audio jack, a mini-USB port (for charging/mass-storage), a micro-SDHC card slot, and Bluetooth (with A2DP stereo audio) – only WiFi is missing.

– Software:
At the risk of being called a heretic by some, the Sidekick LX reminds me of the Blackberry, especially the Java-based front end, the server-based back end, the fonts, and the trackball.

It’s a pretty intuitive user experience right out of the box, but some things (like the use of tabs and shortcut keys) are inconsistent from app to app, and performance is sluggish at times.

Amusingly, I often tried touching the beautiful, large screen, especially while using the reasonably decent web browser and maps app… Maybe it’s time for a Sidekick with a touchscreen?

My only major concern with the Sidekick platform is the dismal selection of apps in the store – there are only a handful of apps, most of them cost money, and none of them are truly compelling.

Before I dive further into the details, take a look at my summary video.


– Messaging:
Messaging is the Sidekick LX’s raison d’être. In addition to the usual SMS, push email, and IM support, it’s one of the first devices in the world to include native Facebook, MySpace and Twitter clients – this is a very good thing.

The email client is so-so. I was able to get Gmail up-and-running quickly and easily, but I was unable to get my hosted POP3 account working, despite entering the correct information. Notifications are not push-like, with significant delays (several minutes at best).

IM is disappointing. The client only supports AOL, MSN, and Yahoo! protocols – there’s no Google Talk or Jabber, which is what I use.

Although not quite as polished as on the iPhone, the Facebook client is pretty nice. The Twitter client feels a bit unfinished – the user interface lacks consistency, and there’s no support for uploading pictures. I can’t comment on the MySpace client since I don’t use the service.

– Camera:
With a 3.2 megapixel sensor, auto-focus, macro, LED flash and geo-tagging, the Sidekick LX camera boasts respectable specs. It improves upon the T-Mobile G1 camera with better color balance and light metering.

The resulting pictures are quite pleasing, yet a bit lacking in level of detail. There’s visible noise as well as a strange yellow halo in the middle of pictures taken in low-light, but it’s possible the latter was specific to my device…

No accelerometer means no auto-rotation, and video recording is limited to QVGA (320×240 pixels at 30 fps).

– Music:
The Sidekick LX includes a nice music player which, unfortunately, sounds rather poor compared to the current crop of media-capable phones. Playback is also hampered by occasional glitches (with VBR MP3 files) – hopefully, this can be fixed with a firmware update.

On the plus side, the standard mini-USB & 3.5 mm audio connectors, and the micro-SDHC support make it easy to transfer, store and listen to music.

– Overall:
Beyond being user friendly and well equipped, the Sidekick LX provides very good battery life and call quality, even if reception lags slightly behind the T-Mobile G1 and Samsung Memoir in the same calling area.

If you’re an existing Sidekick user, the Sidekick LX is definitely the best Sidekick available today and is absolutely worth considering. But if you’re looking for a feature-packed phone in the same price range ($199 with 2-year contract), I think the T-Mobile G1 is the smarter choice.

15 thoughts on “Life with the Sharp/T-Mobile Sidekick LX Leave a comment

  1. i think the sidekick lx 09 is great. to me it has just about everything i want from a phone. i do wish that it was wifi. i dont like the fact that i gotta pay for the internet. but i everything else about it though. its cool. i love the keyboard. it feels like a many pc. i like the screen size. its the biggest screen i had for a phone and i dont have to squint as much. overall i say its better than the T-Mobile G1.

  2. The Sidekick LX 2009 is far the best phone I’ve ever bought after having Sidekick, Sidekick II, and Sidekick 3- it’s like I have a mini-HDTV with eye-popping graphics- easier on my eyes. The keyboard is all right, but with lack of tactile fel in space bar… that takes getting used to. The only downsides are that the LX doesn’t include the optional applications for the deaf community’s needs, such as IP-Relay or i711 Wireless Relay. Same deal with the other apps that existed in Sidekick II and 3, respectively. I travel a lot, and I rely on the wireless relays for that reason, especially when it comes to calling AAA services if my car breaks down, or talking with some people when planning for stuff upon my arrivals and such. Despite its shortcomings, this is the best Sidekick to date. Ever.

  3. how much the price of sidekick LX 09?
    I have sidekick 3,but i lost the camera cover.
    how much the camera cover? and where did i have to buy?
    my location in indonesia.thx

  4. This is the first time I owned a sidekick and I must say that I really love my phone. But I really do disagree with the whole long battery life. That’s a whop of crap. The battery life on this phone sucks!! It could be a whole lot better… and the fact that I have 2 have a G in order 2 send msgs. Other than that the phone is cool considering I always wanted this phone. I have the best version from all my cuzins!! :-D

  5. My names angel and im from california,I recently just got this sidekick well preordered it. I was quite excited when it arrived. I had a blackberry 8100 so it was a big change. The apps on my phone which I use are the myspace and twitter apps. Myspace tends to lag a lot,so I find my self going on the web browser to log in to myspace.the key board on this phone is amazing!I find it very comfortable and fast to either email,instant message,or text for the appearance of this phone(color wise) is a bit dull,but I love the big screen. I have yet to bump into someone with this phone,to compare opinions. The track ball on the sidelkick is so smoothe and sturdy compared to the blackberry which I had to replace because the track ball would freeze up at times. I dohave on question though… my phone since receiving it has blackout out on me with a huge red x on the screen. It restarts it self and erases my inbox of texts???is this normal? But overall im content with this phone and will continue to enjoy it. I don’t see myself with any other device. Thankyou

  6. I have had my new sidekick for about three weeks now. It is a well rounded phone, there are just some small defects. My sidekick has all the things I want in a phone! The problem is more of the fact that they are not tuned to their best capabilities. First, u can only get the dumb ass ringtones in the phones marketplace. Second, the speaker volume is not loud enough I can’t really hear my music in a crowded room. Last, twitter and myspace apps are not that polished, I would love to be able to play my myspace apps and twitpic my followers.

    • The fact that you can only get ringtones provided from the company is false. With the sidekick lx 09 you can record your own ringtones of whatever you want, and the phone will hold an incredible amount of them too. I have had a few different sidekicks and this feature is by far the best and to my knowledge this is the only sidekick which allows you to do so.

  7. I have the Lx 09 for about 2weeks now and I’m liking it so far I mean..itz no iphone its still a sidekick n it werkz great but hiptop or sharp or who ever needs 2 fix the glitch with da sick faces that tends 2 pop up wen It feels like and beef up da speed on the web browser I want it to able to watch any videos not just plain old youtube!!!!

  8. I have the 09lx for quite sometime and I like might have some glitches such as sometimes freezing while watching a video,and I would like wifi but I like the im,txt and web,overall its really good,it the best sidekick evr

  9. Hi my mane is anita I’ve had my sidekick 09 for 1 months I love it its upgraded better than the other sidekick but the downfall about them is I can’t hear my music its too low when I’m watching a video it just freezes for no reason and the web is mad slower but no matter what I luv my sidekick 09

  10. you guys should really check out I’ve been on there for years and its a 100% sidekick forums very popular.

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