The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 is the latest addition to T-Mobile's popular line of cool phones for youngsters, released in the US in July 2008.

The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 has the best mobile-phone keyboard we've ever used, and its trackball lets you whip through messages at lightning speed. Even so, that isn't quite sufficient to sway me to T-Mobile's newest hipster smartphone. Why? The phone's limited productivity uses, and the fact that we're simply not young enough!

The newest Sidekick measures 119x58x18mm; it's roughly the same size as the iPhone 3G, but a little thicker. The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 is a refined Sidekick LX that costs about a little less than its predecessor.

Anyone familiar with Sidekicks will be happy to know that the interface and all of its handy shortcuts have pretty much carried over from the Sidekick LX. The T-Mobile Sidekick 2008's features continue to evolve: for example, it's a snap to add more email accounts (AOL, Windows Live, Yahoo, and POP/IMAP email such as Gmail - but don't try to get the corporate-oriented Lotus Notes working). We've also been a big fan of how Sidekick handsets easily integrate instant messaging (AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo) with fewer hiccups and slowdowns than on other smart phones we've used, and the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 is no exception.

We found the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 comfortable in the hand. It feels solidly built, with its formidable keyboard hidden beneath the 2.75in screen.

Audio sounded good but a little muffled in our tests. The microphone doesn't pick up a lot of ambient noise, and the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 feels all right pressed against your face. And, according to the our battery tests, motormouths can gab for just shy of 9 hours before the Sidekick needs a recharge - good enough for the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 to shine against other PDA phones we've evaluated recently.

You also get Bluetooth support for stereo headsets if you don't like the wired kind; and, if you plan to use this T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 as your primary MP3 player, you can plug almost any headphones into the 3.5mm jack. The player supports the audio formats you'd expect (WAV, WMA, MP3, AAC) and some video formats you might not (3GP and simple-profile MP4).

While the Sidekick line has never been known for stellar images, the T-Mobile Sidekick 2008's 2Mp camera is capable of snagging 1600-by-1200-resolution photos. No flash, mind you, but it's still good for casual snaps. The camera can capture video, too, but only in 20-second clips.

NEXT PAGE: the down sides of the Sidekick 2008