T-Mobile USA said today that it is offering a new version of its signature Sidekick device at $99.
The Sidekick, a horizontal handheld with a swivel screen that pops up to reveal a full-sized keyboard, has been widely successful among celebrities and youth adamant about staying connected. The user interface easily allows people to send instant messages, e-mail and text messages when not taking a call.
But the device’s pricing has always been slightly out of the reach of the masses. The Sidekick 3 is $200 after mail-in rebate and with a two-year contract.
The new device, called Sidekick iD, will be $99 under the same terms. It’s set to be available April 25.
To accommodate the lower price, T-Mobile removed the phone’s camera and MP3 player, and delegated it to a slightly slower, GPRS network.
But the communication abilities will remain the same. T-Mobile said Sidekick users are among the biggest users of features such as IM, texting and Web browsing. Usage is nearly 50 percent higher than with T-Mobile’s average device or phone, and more than 30 percent of all Web page views on the T-Mobile Sidekick are to MySpace.com, with other top visited sites being FaceBook, Sconex and Google. In addition, the average T-Mobile Sidekick customer sends or receives more than 3,000 instant messages a month.
T-Mobile marketing director Greg Andrews said the phone is not only going to be accessible to a larger group of people, but also brings personalization to a new level.
The iD will also be the first Sidekick model to have T-Mobile’s myFaves available immediately to the users. The feature allows unlimited calling to five favorite people. The iD is also highly customizable with easily replaceable back-plate and side bumpers in a variety of colors.
“They love to customize their Sidekicks,” Andrews said. “It becomes a personal device, the Sidekick iD is all about individuality.”
T-Mobile USA said the Sidekick iD makes the third Sidekick available today. It joins a limited edition version designed by Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade and the standard Sidekick 3. It also may not be the last variation of the device. T-Mobile said the Sidekick is becoming more of a brand than an individual product.