T-Mobile Sidekick 3 Reviews Say It Isn't As Big An Improvement over the Sidekick II as Expected

Martin O'Donnell has been sending me reviews of the new T-Mobile Sidekick III, the long-awaited successor to the T-Mobile Sidekick II. Operation Gadget has covered the Sidekick II since it debuted in 2004, and we've always been pretty impressed with it. Martin uses a Sidekick II on an everyday basis, in the same way that I use a Treo 650.

The Sidekick III is the third generation of this integrated communicator. When I heard that T-Mobile was about to release the Sidekick III, my first reaction was one of concern: How can the Sidekick III top the Sidekick II? After all, the Sidekick II took America by storm, and lots of celebrities came to rely on it as much as some employees of Fortune 500 companies rely on Blackberry handhelds.

The reviews I've read so far indicate that expectations were quite high for the Sidekick III and, although the Sidekick III is an improvement over the Sidekick II, it's not quite as much of an improvement as some respected reviewers expected. Here are a couple of examples of what reviewers are saying:

  • Sidekick 3 is better than ever, but still needs more by Tricia Duryee: "The T-Mobile Sidekick 3 is an improvement on what has been an already good thing. The new version maintains the features that made it popular, and new components make it more comparable to higher-end devices on the market today....

    "Although the device is a major improvement, there are a couple of things I found wanting....

    • "the device's form supposedly is sleeker and 20 percent less bulky than previous versions. But the size difference was hardly noticeable....
    • "when I went to send the slide show to a friend, it refused, saying I could only send 2 megabytes worth of data at one time....
    • "the camera doesn't take video, and it doesn't offer full-track music downloads or any other fancy new multimedia service."
  • Trying Out the Latest Sidekick by By Walt Mossberg and Katherine Boehret: "...while our new gadget earned plenty of approving glances from those in the know, the Sidekick 3 isn't all it could be.

    • "The Sidekick 3's screen is generously sized at 2.62 inches diagonal, due in part to its horizontal layout. But the screen's resolution is the same as it was on the Sidekick 2: a mushy 240x160 pixels. Compared with screens on other devices that offer greater sharpness and brighter colors, the Sidekick 3's screen is a definite downer.
    • "While many of the latest smartphones use high-speed EV-DO data networks for zippy Web browsing, the Sidekick 3 only uses EDGE -- a much slower technology." [This probably has to do with T-Mobile USA's decision not to implement higher speed wireless data services as early as Cingular, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint]

I think it's instructive that the inclusion of Bluetooth, SD memory, and a 1.3-megapixel camera with flash in the next generation of a device as hot as the T-Mobile Sidekick was not enough for the reviewers to say they really like the Sidekick III. This shows how competitive the market for integrated communication devices is.

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