Here's a first look at the upcoming Sidekick, a re-imagining of the classic Paris Hilton handset, built around a shell of Google-powered Android goodness. The new phone, made by Samsung, maintains the iconic look and feel of the thing, and some of the user experience, too. It's not all the same, but it will probably make some once and future Sidekickers very happy.
Hardware-wise, it's no teenie-bopper phone. The goal was to keep that signature slide-out screen and big QWERTY keyboard, but when closed, there's a nice 3.5-inch touchscreen. I have to fault Samsung for not dropping in the incredible Super AMOLED screen you can find on the Galaxy phones, but I presume that cost has something to do with it. (When the Sidekick's undisclosed price is eventually disclosed, it will hopefully reflect this.) There's also a front-facing camera and pre-installed Qik videoconferencing.
From a network perspective, it should do well, as long as you've got strong T-Mobile service in your area. It's got T-Mobile's 4G capability with a 21Mbps theoretical peak. (It won't get that much, but I've seen a similar phone realistically get 11 megabits.)
It's got the "jump" key that was found on earlier Sidekicks, but this time it's for speedy multitasking, as it lets you jump between apps in a custom-designed switcher. You can program keys to launch different functions, and drop into the "Media Room" environment where most of the phone's video and audio apps are collected.
Since it's meant to be social, it comes preloaded with Facebook and Twitter, and features a group chat SMS blasting function. Cooler still, there's a cloud texting service, which lets you send the same texts from your computer as you would from your phone. Speaking of the cloud, it's not fully in-sync with a server, like the previous Sidekicks, but it does use Android's native syncing for contacts, apps and other options.
The best thing about it running Android is that it will have access to all of the Android apps. However, since it's got a heavily redesigned interface overlaid on top of Samsung's own custom interface, and currently runs OS 2.2 (Froyo), it probably won't be easily upgraded to the latest Android OS, and might hit a few other compatibility snags.We'll have to test it out to see for sure, but it's certainly a decent start, and could be ready for a fashion comeback, especially among people who've had a hard time gluing pink rhinestones on the all-glass iPhone.