Dell Streak review: Size does matter
Phonebook is nice
The Streak phonebook has been visually customized and is fortunately one of the apps that will gladly go portrait when you rotate the phone. Unfortunately, its functionality falls a bit short of the best Android has to offer at this stage. The unlimited capacity and seamless sync are still here, though.
Contacts get listed by first name and you have no power to change that, plus there’s no option to filter your SIM and phone contacts. However, you can still use groups to decide what gets displayed, though.
There is no alphabet scroll in portrait mode, which is strange given it works in landscape. Flick scrolling and searching through typing are available either way.
There are no quick contacts in Donut land but the Streak has a way around this – and does even better – placing the shortcuts next to the picture of each contact. The increased screen estate does count here obviously.
When editing a contact there are many info fields that you can assign, but everything remains perfectly organized. You have all the types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc) and there's a plus sign on the right - clicking it adds another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes the unneeded field.
Naturally the usual functionality such as adding a custom ringtone, picture or sending incoming calls straight to voicemail for any contact is available.
Telephony is decent
It does look strange to hold a 5” device up to your head and talk, but it doesn’t cause any problems with the in-call experience. The earpiece is loud enough and the microphone is actually a couple of centimeters above the bottom edge so you can talk straight into it.
Unfortunately, on the software side of things, the Streak fails to set the world alight. For starters it lacks smart dialing and we really appreciate that feature.
Plus the dial pad itself is hardly much of a looker. The Streak partly make up for that with an excellent voice recognition app, that’s fully speaker independent.
The call log appears next to the dial pad and you get a shortcut to immediately dial one of the numbers there. It shows all the dialed, received and missed calls all in one list.
We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on the Dell Streak. It did pretty well grabbing a “Very good” mark, which means that you will be easily able to hear it even in noisy environments. More info on our loudspeaker test as well as other results can be found here.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Samsung I9000 Galaxy S||66.6||65.9||66.6|
|Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab||66.7||64.6||68.6|
|Google Nexus One||69.9||66.6||79.1||Good|
|Dell Streak||70.1||75.7||80.8||Very Good|
More info on our loudspeaker test as well as other results can be found here.
Messaging: welcome to the large screen
There aren’t too many custom elements to the Dell Streak messaging department so you are getting the usual Android straightforward approach – no folders, just a new message button with all your threads listed underneath.
Composing a message is a little frustrating since the text box with the message occupies only a part of the screen. Now, it’s a big enough screen but you still have a small part of the text to work with. At least adding a recipient is nice and easy, with a smart-dial-like suggestions.
When you add multimedia content to the message, a text message is automatically turned into an MMS. You can just add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or you can choose to go into a full-blown MMS editor, depending on your needs.
Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted.
There is also a generic email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.
As for text input options, the Streak offers a couple of on-screen full QWERTY keyboards. As expected on a screen this size, even the portrait keyboard allows comfortable typing with large and well spaced keys. The design of the keyboard isn’t perfect but the screen estate and good sensitivity successfully conceal that.
And you will be interested to know what they did with the place in landscape mode. Instead of making the keys too large, Dell added a numpad on the right so you don’t have to toggle between letters and numbers when you type. Again it’s hardly the best designed keyboard we have used but with such big screen you will be speeding your way through texts comfortably.