T-Mobile Sidekick Making A Comeback As A 4G Handset

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Did you sob uncontrollably when T-Mobile announced it’d be axing the Sidekick back in early July of last year, look up briefly through a veil of tears as rumors of a 4G Sidekick made a brief blip on the radar later that very month, and then eventually slip into the comforting embrace of resignation about ever seeing another Sidekick again when those rumors proved false?

Cheer up.

PCMag.com has confirmed that T-Mobile will not only be launching a new Sidekick during the first half of this year, but that it’ll be a 4G handset to boot.

Without having any further details, it’s impossible to say what this new Sidekick will entail but the fact that it’ll be a 4G phone capable of leveraging T-Mobile’s fast-as-home-broadband HSPA+ data connection seems to indicate that the device will do a lot more than previous versions when it comes to surfing the web. Don’t be surprised to see a nice, slick web browser and perhaps a big, high-resolution touch screen, in other words.

The new Sidekick would presumably keep the QWERTY keyboard and flip-around screen form factor that have graced all the previous versions. What’ll be really interesting to see is if and how a new Sidekick might tie into Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 handsets.

Microsoft bought Danger, the company behind the original Sidekick, and put the acquisition to less than optimal use with the ill-fated Kin project from last summer. If it’s truly serious about Windows Phone 7, it’d be kind of odd to see it spin off yet another mobile operating system. (UPDATE: see next page)

Instead, a Sidekick running Windows Phone 7 with access to the app store may be in the cards, though that may not sit well with fans of the Sidekick interface from days past. Again, this is all purely speculative, so it’s entirely possible that the new Sidekick could be a completely separate offering than Windows Phone 7. We’ll hopefully hear more details in the coming months.

UPDATE: Here’s a photo from PCMag.com now too. There’s not much discernable detail for the Sidekick, though the screen does look relatively big compared to previous versions. It almost looks like a slide-up screen, too, instead of the flip-around style made famous by the earlier models.


UPDATE 2: Well there’s a curve ball. The phone will run Android. How about that? I got this statement from T-Mobile’s PR rep:

“I saw your post on Techland regarding the new T-Mobile Sidekick and I wanted to confirm that it’s true, we will launch a new 4G T-Mobile Sidekick available in 2011 running on the Android operating system. The article speculates on the operating system and I just wanted to point out that T-Mobile did confirm the new Sidekick will run on Android.”

So either the “Sidekick” name is solely owned by T-Mobile or it’s being spun off from Danger/Microsoft (Motorola and Sharp have both developed past Sidekick phones in partnership with Danger). That, or Microsoft’s branching out to Android, which seems least likely.

Following up with the PR rep, I got this:

“It is T-Mobile’s belief that moving Sidekick to Android will allow for more rapid innovation, delivery of 4G experiences, and higher customer satisfaction. Android continues to provide a rich platform for innovation – allowing us to build compelling services and applications across our device lineup. T-Mobile will continue to provide the best customer service for our loyal T-Mobile customers. We have no further information to share at this time but will be in touch when we do.”

So it looks like the “Sidekick” name is T-Mobile’s.

I asked which company would manufacture the handset, which resulted in the “we have no further information” quip but it appears that the device will more or less be an Android phone donning the Sidekick name. The “moving the Sidekick to Android” part seems to indicate that Danger and Microsoft won’t have anything to do with this one.

More on TIME.com:

Goodbye Sidekick, I Loved You

Is T-Mobile’s Mystery HSPA+ Smartphone a New Sidekick?

T-Mobile’s First Windows Phone 7 Phone Comes With a Kickstand

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