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printed December 20, 2014
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Review: Sidekick 3

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Is It Your Type Body Three S's  

Screen

The screen is 240x160 pixels, which sounds low-resolution, but provides plenty of space for most tasks, including browsing. It is the exact same screen in resolution, color depth and technology as the Sidekick II.

The Sidekick is one of the few phones using truly transflective technology. These screens don't require a backlight to be seen in daylight, instead they use ambient light to light the screen. In dark rooms, a light sensor automatically turns on a backlight for the screen as well as the keyboard. While transflective screens use less power, the one on the Sidekick suffers from washed out colors, and images tend to look pixelated.

Signal

One of the biggest disappointments of the Sidekick 3 is that it does not improve on the II's notoriously weak signal strength. The Sidekick 3 loses signal as soon as you come near a dead zone. Like its predecessor, it will sometimes manage to recover and get a weak signal in these areas, but this is inconsistent. The Sidekick 3 demonstrated the same behavior in our bank vault test, managing to at least get text messages and voicemails sometimes, and not getting any signal at all on other occasions.

The 3 has slightly improved the speed at which the Sidekick will re-join the network after losing signal. It is still not as fast as most phones, but it is faster than the II.

Sound

There is only one speaker on the Sidekick 3; it does not have a separate loudspeaker for ringing and speakerphone. Sadly, the main speaker is not loud enough to hear the Sidekick ringing or use the speakerphone in noisy environments except on the loudest volume. The speaker is plenty loud for calls when held to the ear.

Each volume setting is a separate profile that you can edit. So you can set "normal" to vibrate as well as ring but "loud" to just ring, and more. You can also adjust the volume for ring, call speaker, and other audio events separately for each profile. Selecting a volume is easy using the external volume keys.

When using the wired or Bluetooth headset, the only sound sent to the headset is calls or music (in the case of the wired headset only). All rings, alerts and other sounds are still played through the phone.

Battery

Even though Danger has taken steps to conserve battery power, such as completely turning off the screen when the device is idling, the battery rarely lasts longer than 2 days. Since they could not significantly improve battery life, Danger has now made the battery removable. T-Mobile and Danger will offer additional batteries and stand-alone chargers for people who need to go more than 48 hours without plugging into a wall.

In addition, the battery continues to drain (though at a much slower rate) when the device is turned off, so turning it off in hopes of preserving a little battery life for later does not always work. Now that the battery is removable, we suggest that you actually take it out of the device if you've powered it off in hopes of preserving power for later.

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