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Review: Sidekick 3

Posted by rapaleeman on May 5, 2008

Before I had the Shadow through T-Mobile I used the Sidekick 3 for a little over a week.  I wrote a review back then for some site and found it this weekend.  I figured I’d post it since it was actually pretty good (at least to me and that is all that matters).  I got a Sdekick iD review coming later today when I get it finished and edited.  Here we go.

The Sidekick 3 from Sharp is a great messenger that also has a phone built into it.  That is an important fact to realize about this device.  It is a texting machine with an added feature of a phone (and a few other things).

 

Hardware and Interface:

The operating system running on the Sidekicks have always been simple, easy, and very user-friendly.  The 3 is no different.  Everything is quite simple to get to and with the addition of the trackball, things are even easier.  A person can use the trackball to move in and out of menus and sub-menus quite quickly.  The d-pad is still there, but I found it to be too slow once I got used to the trackball.  The sensitivity was perfect for me out of the box, but it is customizable.

 

The rest of the phone is thinner than the Sidekick II but a tad heavier.  It is about the same size and weight of a HTC Tilt or Palm Treo 750.  The rubberized backing is perfect to get a grip to.  The camera lens is on the back and to be honest it was placed in a spot where my index finger kept hitting it.  Really minor, but definitely noticeable.  The side buttons are fine and placed in the perfect spots.

 

The screen seems to be a little brighter and cleaner than the II but it is still not up to par when compared to some of the other “smart phones” on the market if you consider a Sidekick to be a “smart phone”.  The kick function of the screen initially seems a little loose, but after a few flips I realized that it was quite secure to the phone.  The magnet that holds it into place is quite strong, but doesn’t affect other things around it.

 

Battery life isn’t bad.  I can go a whole 24 hours before a charge is needed.  Not bad and better than some phones I’ve owned.  Since it is constantly connected, a daily charge is a small price to pay.

 

The qwerty keyboard is the best I have ever used.  Period.  Nothing more.  Next section.

 

Texting, E-mail, and IM:

There is a laundry list of features pertaining to texting, IM, and e-mail.  There are plenty of natural shortcuts built into the phone and there is almost zero learning curve involved in using the Sidekick 3.  Everything is setup automatically using simple fill in the blank questions which makes you wonder why Microsoft hasn’t adopted this approach with their Windows Mobile messaging program which feels antiquated compared to the Sidekick.  Definitely what the phone was meant to do, though the lack of MMS is somewhat puzzling.  The phone is constantly connected to the internet so as long as you have service you will not miss an e-mail or IM once connected.  A definitely plus and something others should adopt as well.  Though corporate e-mail users need to look elsewhere.

 

Phone:

The phone part of the phone is a lot better than the Sidekick II and definitely better than a few higher-end more expensive phones (looking at you Mr. Treo).  The speaker is loud, but the speakerphone can get distorted at the highest volumes.  Even with only 1 bar using the T-Mobile service in Northern VA, I found call quality to be quite good.  No static or distortion on my end or reported on the other side.  Bluetooth works well, but only until about 10 feet.  A little shorter than I would like, but it hasn’t been a problem.  The phone also rings quite loud on the table or a car seat, but in my pocket it can be a tad hard to hear.  Plenty of ringing profiles and options all available through the menus or the +/- keys on the spine.  It does ge a little uncomfortable holding to your ear for extended amounts of time.  For long calls, Bluetooth it.

 

The Rest:

The internet is pretty slow admittedly since it uses Edge (T-Mobile does not have 3g as of this review), but for light surfing I found it tolerable and manageable.  Plus with the internet always connected to receive e-mail/IM/texts, it is pretty quick to just hop on and check a movie time or my favorite, ESPN.

 

The camera says 1.3 but it is honestly not that great.  Fine for quick shots at a club or party (make sure the night setting is on), but make sure you do not move while you are snapping the picture or it will blur.  The photos look better on a computer, or mySpace, but not good enough to print.

 

The MP3 player, while very basic, is actually quite good.  Playlists are supported, as well as MP3 tags.  Also, the phone acts as a USB drive when connected to the computer so it is easy to drag and drop songs with zero drivers required for install.  Music is a tad distorted through the speakers, but the included headphones sound pretty good.  Not an iPod/Zune replacement but definitely not a throwaway feature.

 

Finally, the catalog is the last thing that needs to be talked about.  With the Sidekick, you must pay for everything.  Ringtones, themes (though you can circumvent that one), and games (includes Rock and Rockets and hidden Snowbored game) are purchasable from the catalog which is always on (since the phone is constantly connected to the web).  That is probably my biggest gripe about the Sidekick, but it is aimed at teenagers and younger for being a hip phone.  That is expected.

 

Conclusion:

The Sidekick 3 is a texting, e-mailing, and IMing machine with a phone attached.  The kick is a trendy and easy to use device with everything right at your fingertips.  If you need a phone and nothing more then the Sidekick is not for you.  If on the other hand you need to be constantly connected and depend on everything else besides the phone, then step right up.  The phone isn’t bad, but definitely not the primary function and a Bluetooth will be a necessity for the longer conversations.

 

The other features (camera, browser, MP3, and games) are just along for the ride with the MP3 player being the highlight.  The games are expensive (though the hidden Snowbored game is a surprisingly good time waster) as well as the ringtones and themes.  Your phone bill will be heavy really quick if you want to “pimp” your phone.

 

Overall though, I really like the Sidekick 3.  I am 26 and work in an office where Blackberry’s and smart phones make up the majority of the population.  I like having a different phone that is just more fun and more usable.  The customizations are limited, but the OS is so close to perfect that I’m ok with that.  Definitely worth it, and with the $20 Sidekick plan through T-Mobile (with unlimited internet and texts) this is a definite bargain when compared to other higher end phones.

 

RECOMMENDED

 

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