Goodbye SideKick II, hello Blackberry 8700

I’ve been using the Sidekick, Color Sidekick, and Sidekick II for the past several years, and have remained fairly satisfied. The convenience of a full web browser, instant messaging, email, and typical PDA features in a phone, at a decent price point, with a $20/month unlimited data plan has been sweet. Funny how a cracked LCD can change things. T-mobile’s idea of an “upgrade credit” is that I can pay MORE for a replacement SK II than I paid the first time, AND I get to sign a 2 year contract. No thanks – after 8 years of loyal T-Mobile service, I’m going to have to kick them to the curb.

The more I really began thinking about it, the more I realized the SK II was beginning to wear thin on me. How the SK’s creators, Danger, stay in business releasing a single new phone every 18 months is beyond me. Even when they went from black and white Sidekick to the Color Sidekick, to the Sidekick II, they kept the system memory at 8 MB. They ignored Bluetooth. The form factor improved slightly. T-Mobile insisted that the ability to use MP3 email attachments as ring tones be disabled, trying to force users into their walled garden. The real clincher was the most recent update, where they finally enabled Javascript on the browser. The catch is that on JS heavy pages, the device would swap out all of my email off of the device, forcing me to either re-fetch the individual messages or reboot the device to get the swapped back in. I appreciate the feature, and understand that the device has limited memory, but flash memory prices have been plummeting non-stop. Would it kill to make 16-32MB standard?

So a busted SK II and a steep replacement cost meant I wanted a new phone. Main criteria were a full QWERTY keyboard, reasonable form factor, Bluetooth, full HTML web browser, Email and PDA functionality, EVDO or EDGE (high speed) wireless data, and a net acquisition cost of $100 or less. This ruled out Treos, most Windows Mobile devices, and even most Symbian devices. The only decent device that seemed to fit the bill was the Blackberry 8700c, which is currently free after rebate from I used and developed for Blackberry devices during my time at Air2Web, but this will be my first round owning one. It’s on order, so in the mean time, I can answer my Sidekick when it rings, and not much else. I’ll post Blackberry 8700 impressions once I’ve put it through the paces.