Dell Streak review: Size does matter

GSMArena team, 05 November 2010.
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Well packaged

The Dell Streak is a high-end device and so is the packaging. There’s a nice 3-piece charger inside that uses the USB cable to connect to the phone and one of the two supplied plugs to go into the socket. By providing both, Dell spares you the need to buy a travel adapter.

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Unboxing the Dell Streak

The supplied microSD card is the impressive 16GB but the really nice touch is the enclosed carrying pouch to keep your Streak protected when you carry it around. Finally, you are getting a one-piece headset (so replacing the headphones but keeping the mic isn’t an option) and some paperwork.

There is no CD supplied as the Dell Studio installation files are available on the microSD card.

Dell Streak 360-degree spin

This one here may be too big for a phone – or too small for a tablet. Some might even find the size just fine – it wouldn’t be that incredible you know. In either case though, the 10mm slim waistline will be much appreciated. And if you happen to have wide enough pockets, you’ll even be able to slip it in and not get much of bulge.

The Dell Streak stands at 152.9 x 79.1 x 10 mm. The weight of 220 grams is about what you would expect from a device this size. It sure could’ve been lighter if everything was made of plastic, but we certainly welcome the extensive use of metal on the chassis.

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Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S and Dell Streak: who’s big

Design and construction

Slim and metal-cast, the Dell Streak will make a good first impression. It was obvious this kind of size would tolerate no fancy designs and accents. They went for clean lines instead and that turned out to be a smart move, focusing all attention on the excellent build quality.

We certainly have our reservations about the red color of the review unit we received, but there are plenty of other paintjobs to choose from.

The Dell Streak offers very few keys on the front, reserving most of the space for the 5” display. 16M colors, capacitive overlay with multi-touch support and WVGA resolution is what you get here and it does sound good enough on paper.

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The 5” screen doesn’t impress with image quality

In real life the touch experience is as smooth as you would expect. Capacitive screens are deservedly praised for their excellent response and the Dell Streak lives up to the expectations.

Unfortunately, the image quality isn’t quite as good with only average contrast and brightness. We never expected an LCD unit to rival SuperAMOLED blacks, but the Streak isn’t good enough at its own game either.

Sunlight legibility isn’t particularly impressive, although the device is reasonably usable in the bright sun. You will just have to work a bit harder to find the proper angle but, unlike some other devices, proper angles do exist. In this aspect the Dell Streak falls only slightly short of the Galaxy Tab and the Apple iPad.

Under the display, or on its right side, if holding the device landscape, are the three capacitive keys: Menu, Back and Home. And by the way, landscape seems the intended way of working with the Streak – judging by the orientation of the pictograms.

A long press on the Menu brings the search option while a long press on the Home button launches the task switcher/homescreen editor. The mouthpiece is in the bottom left corner at the front.

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The three touch-sensitive keys at the bottom

Above the display are the earpiece, the proximity sensor and the front-facing camera. It can be used as a video-call camera but only in supported apps, like messengers for example. Otherwise the Streak doesn’t support video-calling over the cellular network.

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The earpiece, the proximity sensor and the secondary camera

The 30-pin connector goes on the left side of the Streak. The proprietary connector is probably the worst part of the hardware for two reasons. Firstly, it is incompatible with any other cable you might have (the 30-pin connectors of the iPad and the Galaxy Tab are incompatible either).

The other problem with this port is the huge and not particularly good looking gap it leaves on the side of the phone. There is no cap over it, making this part of the phone particularly unattractive to look at.

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The large gap of the 30-pin connector is not too attractive to look at

The top and bottom of the Dell Streak are completely bare with no controls or connectors whatsoever.

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Nothing going on top and bottom

On the right (top side, in landscape use), there are three keys: camera, power and volume rocker and the 3.5mm audio jack, which is, again, left exposed. The camera and power buttons are a tad too small for a device this size – we did find them a bit fiddly.

The shutter is a two-stage button – it can be half-pressed to lock focus. But overall, it’s not comfortable enough to work with – mostly due to size.

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The camera key and the power key could be a bit bigger

The back features the 5 megapixel camera lens and the dual LED flash. You can’t really expect much from a LED flash, but it can do the job for close-range shots. The loudspeaker grill is further down towards the bottom.

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The back side of the Streak

Removing the battery cover reveals the 1530 Li-Ion battery. Be warned that removing the rear cover will almost instantly cause the device to switch off. Quoted at up to 9 hours and 48 mins of talk time or 400 hours of standby, we really expected more from it. In reality, it’s worth just over a day of extensive use (two hours of browsing, a dozen of shots and a few calls, plus 30 minutes of fiddling with the rest of the phone apps). That’s all we managed to get out of it.

The microSD card slot is under the cover and even though it is accessible without removing the battery it’s actually non hot-swappable. It’s all due to the fact that the phone switches off when you release the battery cover.

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The microSD card slot is under the cover too

The Streak is very well built and good looking too – though, well, red is not its best color maybe – at least not for us.

We enjoyed handling the device and even though it doesn’t feel quite as comfortable as a phone it is really compact and manageable for a tablet. Actually talking on the Streak doesn’t feel natural we think – but it’s not something you need to do. Any sort of headset – wired or wireless – will do just fine.

You might think a 5” screen just can’t be too big – after all there’s re enough phones out there with 4 and even 4.3-inch displays. In our humble opinion, 5-inch is across the line already. We mean calls only – the size of the Dell Streak is otherwise right for watching videos or browsing the web. The middling screen quality and poor codec support are an entirely different mater though.

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Handling the Dell Streak: comfortable enough, just not for making phone calls

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