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dell streak small
Last Updated: July 24th, 2011

The Dell Streak may have been available in the UK for over two months now, but it’s taken until now to hit the States. Just in case you forgot, here is a roundup of my thoughts on all the features the phone has to offer if you’re thinking of getting yourself a Streak when it’s released tomorrow.

Hardware

When you first see the Dell Streak on the shelves, you may be confused as to what it’s trying to be. It’s a bloody big smartphone, with a 5” capactive touch screen display, but it’s not quite large enough, in my opinion, to be called a tablet. Sure, bigger is all the rage right now, with smartphones beginning to reach 4.3” in size, but when making a call with the Streak, it just seems a little too big. On a brighter note, you’re looking at a resolution of 800x480, which works well enough on the device, offering enough screen estate to find your way around the OS and your applications.

dell streak

On the right hand side of the screen are three capacitive touch buttons, providing access to your home screen, a menu and allowing you to go back to your last window. When I was first using the Streak, I was slightly concerned about accidentally hitting the buttons whilst holding the device, but it’s never proved a problem so far. There’s a 5 megapixel camera on the back of the phone, and you’ll find a volume control, power button, and physical camera button on the top of the device as you hold it. There’s also a front facing camera, which is sure to come in handy for video calling apps that you can find on the Market.

My biggest gripe with the hardware is the size. Don’t get me wrong, the Streak feels great in your hand when you’re composing a message or browsing the web, but when it’s up against your ear during a call it feels slightly unnatural. I suppose it’s something that most users will get used to, but I’ve never used a phone with a screen above 3.7” in size, so I’m not at all used to it.

Software

Before I begin to comment on the software, I should probably just come out and say that the Dell Streak still runs Android 1.6. However, there is hope, as the Eclair (2.1) version of Android was leaked for the UK version of the Streak today. Thus, although there has been no official announcement, it could be coming to the US version in the near future - though that may just be wishful thinking on my part. Like most Android phones on the market, the Streak uses a custom interface on top of stock Android. It works pretty well here, offering an unobtrusive skin that’s still familiar to people who’ve used an vanilla Android device before.

dell streak social

To access the applications on the Streak, you actually have to use the drop down arrow from the taskbar at the top of your screen, and then tap the ‘more’ button to see the rest of your apps. This works great, because you often have a select few apps that you use the most, and can drag them to the top of the list for immediate access without having to look through your entire app drawer. The big screen definitely comes in handy for browsing the web (in landscape mode, anyway), and while using Google Maps. The only complaint I have comes when you’re using the keyboard in landscape mode, as Dell chose to throw a numeric keypad in to the mix for no apparent reason whatsoever. As far as I’m concerned, it makes the experience worse, and is rather pointless on a device like this.

Probably the most useful inclusion in the software department is the inclusion of QuickOffice, as it lets you view Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets and presentations out of the box. Some of the files that I’ve tested with the application haven’t rendered perfectly, but it’s definitely nice to have in a hurry.

All things considered, Dell make good use of the screen estate on offer with the software, and their customizations to Android aren’t so intrusive that it simply doesn’t look like Android anymore!

Conclusion

The Dell Streak is certainly an interesting device to say the least. Its unique size and design makes it a contender in the market, as it stands out above the rest of the smartphones on the shelves. I’m certainly looking forward to the Android 2.1 (or 2.2?) update which will hopefully come sooner rather than later in the US, too. If you want to grab one for yourself, it’s available through AT&T from $299.99 with a two year contract.

John Thompson
John's been addicted to technology ever since he tinkered with his first custom built PC when he was 10 years old. He's also the proud owner of seven Amazon Kindles, but only because he destroyed the first six.

  • http://[email protected] Paul

    Why in the world would anyone buy this for $549 instead of the iPad? Even with the 2 year plan for $299 is just insane.

    • Jim

      re: Paul: I ordered a Streak because an iPad won't fit in even my coat pocket, but I also wanted something with a bigger screen than an iPhone. Simple as that, really.

    • BobbyPhoenix

      And the ipad won't make calls, and won't play flash video.

  • Xander

    Why? because this is not just a big ipod touch like iPad.

    You may not know, but this one can make a phone call, not just with voip like ipad,

    why? bcuz this one still fits inside my pocket, unlike ipad..

    why? bcuz I already have ipod touch and other phones which are all about the same.

    Why? bcuz this phone is one of a kind

  • Jewkhok

    I want one but i seen the thunder may be coming soon as well

  • shadow2by4

    This phone makes me drool. I'm a gamer, so a big screen with a snapdragon under it is my dream phone. Too bad I'm on T-Mobile... I'll have to foot the extra cash to get one unlocked. And one for my fiance, too. Of course, that's once it's been hacked. We're both VERY used to Cyanogenmod 5.0.8 on our G1's.

  • logan

    great review. love my new dell. size isn't a problem for me. apps are great and it's easy to navigate around. the receptioni is incredible and the games and web browsing keeps my fiance busy. great unlocked gsm phones. i like the huge touch screen, so much you can fit on one screen. so much better than my tiny old unlocked htc phones. the wifi and gps is great and handy for business and my daughter loves hers for the enormous camera on it. also got our htc unlock codes and blackberry unlocking for free! got our last couple streaks at unlockthatphone.com 2 thumbs up

  • Ezell Presley

    I love this phone because I love the fact that I can can send a WIFI signal from this phone to run my laptop or update my ITOUCH on the go. That and the apps are great that I have managed to download.

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