Phone

Dell Streak: My favourite 5-inch Smartphone

Dell Streak remains till today the largest screen smartphone in the market (the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7 is not really a smartphone because you cannot hold the device up to your ears and talk to the other calling party). Although the device was out for more than 7 months in Singapore (even longer globally), I would still like to share with you my views.

During a Dell event last October (2010), I managed to see a working copy, but had no more than one minute to try the device. Thanks to XPR who followed up in my innane interest in this mammoth (by today’s standard) phone, I was couriered a unit within 24 hours of my discussion.

Let’s jump straight into the good things about the phone:

  • Generous 5-inch display to let you enjoy content with comfort. If you use third-party launcher apps, you can fill up more icons per screen
  • Very natural typing experience when using on-screen keyboard in portrait mode
  • Clear phone voice quality of the other party
  • It charges from flat to full in just 2 hours
  • The gloss-coating chilli-red colour is stunningly eye-catching (yes there are the usual black colour for the understated masses).

The challenges?

  • Device is a little too big for one-hand operation, but I can still manage it.
  • Interface is less robust. This phone was built based on the ancient Android 1.6 OS then updated to Android 2.2 during Singapore launch. Therefore, it is clear during my reviewing period that the phone did not perform as optimally as phones like Dell Venue which was built for newer Android OS.
  • Battery drains excessively. With my kind of heavy usage, it barely lasts 6 hours.
  • Proprietary dock port means I have to bring the cable with me.The rest of the Android devices use the universal micro-USB.
  • Camera shutter lag, which is common for smartphone cameras.

In perspective, the Dell Streak was never designed with the phone as a primary function. Its touch icons and lock screen are oriented in landscape, the power button is around the mid-point of the device. It is really intended as a mini-tablet for two-handed usage, and included phone functions to give the device an added selling point. Despite the bulk, I am quite happy to put the Streak against my ear for a decent conversation, though I don’t know how that looks from the passers-by.

A 5-inch device like the Dell Streak would be the perfect device to satisfy both your phone and tablet needs. Small enough to put in your large pocket yet big enough for consuming content comfortably. Between my Galaxy S and Dell Streak, I would pick the latter, though I would be mindful of the battery drain. A backup battery is highly recommended. And a large pocket too.

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