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The Sidekick Gets More Smartphone-Like, Because It Has To

Lots of interest has been stirred up by rumors of a new version of the Sidekick that'll be smarter, better, and more 3G than previous incarnations. It's dubbed the Sidekick LX 2009, and details about it surfaced while a reader at was taking an online survey about smartphones.

The question that immediately pops up is: "Sidekick...a smartphone?" Sure, it's filled a niche in the market by providing a device tuned for easy text-messaging, thanks to its side-slide full QWERTY keyboard and kept things simple compared to full-on Windows smartphones or the iPhone or G1. It even acts as a media player, which also accounts for some of its popularity among the teenage "texting" generation.

But precisely because of the influence of the iPhone and G1 the Sidekick has to smarten itself up from these basic roots. The iPhone may cost more, but it has undeniable chic, thousands of apps and games, and it's blazed a trail for what future cellphones will be like. The G1 followed in its wake with a big screen, and a Sidekick-alike sliding QWERTY keyboard. Compared to these technological marvels, the Sidekick begins to look very much like ancient technology.

Which is why the LX 2009 has a large list of improvements, according to the rumor. It's got a higher resolution screen, at 854×480 pixels, connects over 3G, has in-built GPS with turn-by-turn navigation, a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus, pre loaded social networking apps and blogging tools, a YouTube app and memory expansion via microSD card. The addition of 3G will speed up the data-accessing segments of the phone, and its purported "thin design" will remove some of the pocket chunkiness the previous generations required.

But, in essence, all these fixes simply make the Sidekick a normal, standard, run-of-the-mill smartphone...albeit one with an increasingly-cloned side-slide QWERTY. The improvements will have to push the device's price up. It probably won't cost as much as the sophisticated iPhone or BlackBerry Storm, agreed, but the results may be in danger of pushing the Sidekick right out of its niche market.

[via Hiptop3, TmoNews]