New Sidekick LX to Get 3G, Exchange Support

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Despite its heritage as a phone aimed at the youth market, the latest version of the Sidekick mobile device will soon let users access their Exchange e-mail, T-Mobile said.

The newest Sidekick LX, which T-Mobile plans to announce on Friday, also will be the first to work on the operator's 3G network for higher-speed data access, something users have been clamoring for.

T-Mobile did not specify exactly when the Exchange support would come but said users would be able to download Exchange Active Sync from the Sidekick Download Catalog shortly after the launch.

While Sidekick customers are heavy messaging users, they tend to be young, so it's unclear that they're interested in receiving Exchange e-mail -- typically used by businesses -- on the phones. On average, Sidekick users send and receive more than 3,000 instant messages and 600 text messages per month, T-Mobile said.

Sidekicks run software developed by Danger that works in tandem with back-end servers that deliver services such as games, social networking, Internet access, Web e-mail and instant messaging.

Although Microsoft bought Danger last year, it appears open to supporting applications on the device that are built by rivals. The newest Sidekick will have a bundle of social-networking applications including MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. It will also come with IM clients from AOL and Yahoo, as well as Windows Live. Users will be able to watch YouTube videos via the Web browser.

Microsoft was unavailable to comment on any software updates to the Sidekick.

It will be the first mobile device that lets users upload videos to MySpace, T-Mobile said.

According to T-Mobile, Sidekick users generate more than 15 million requests to social-networking sites every day. Two-thirds of all traffic from the Sidekick browser goes to social-networking sites, the operator said.

The new Sidekick, with hardware built by Sharp, will also include a GPS-enabled version of Live Search that will let users map their current locations, search for nearby businesses and share favorite places with friends via an integrated messaging service.

Existing T-Mobile customers can buy the Sidekick LX in an online pre-sale starting Friday. People who order by April 30 will get the phone by May 12; those who order after April 30 will get it within seven business days. Anyone will be able to buy it starting May 13, either online or in T-Mobile stores. It will cost US$199 with a two-year subscription and a mail-in rebate.

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