Dell Streak Review

Introduction and Design

Even though some would argue that the massive sized displays of the HTC EVO 4G and the Motorola DROID X can be regarded as almost tablet-like, out comes the Dell Streak pushing forward and inevitably commences Android's presence into the tablet market. In actuality, the Dell Streak slams accurately down to earth as it records a display that's 5 inches of pure screen love. At that screen real estate, can it still provide a tablet friendly experience without allowing its below average sized display to eventually become its own Achilles Heel?

The package contains:
  • Dell Streak
  • 16GB microSD card
  • Stereo Headset
  • 30-pin USB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Microfiber pouch
  • Quick Start Guide


More than a handful from an initial grab, its sleek and streamlined (0.38” thick) body provides the notion of it being extremely manageable to hold. But instead, it'll steadily require more of a two handed operation than one. Luckily, its minimalistic design is well appreciated thanks to its hard lines, tapered edges that are curved, and high-quality plastic that's supplemented with a metallic rear cover. Finally, for something commissioned to be a tablet solution, we're surprised to find its weight to tastefully complement its construction. 

You can compare the Dell Streak with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Instantly, there's no hiding the fact that it's boasting a meager 5” WVGA (480 x 800) capacitive touchscreen that's constructed out of Gorilla glass to give it an impenetrable persona. Even with its high resolution, it lacks any distinctive looking text and requires you to place the tablet closer to your eyes to make it out. Moreover, colors begin to fade partly when viewing at some extreme viewing angles. However, its sheer luminance when set to the brightest setting is still appealing enough to the naked eye – while being usable in direct sunlight. And finally, we didn't experience any issues with its responsiveness seeing that it's able to register even the most subtle of touches.

Its three touch sensitive buttons, the home, menu, and back keys, are spaced far enough from one another and the edges of the phone to minimize accidental presses. On the right side of the phone, its volume rocker, power, and shutter keys are distinguishable to the touch while offering a sensible response when pressed. Additionally, you'll find the 3.5mm headset jack on the same side as well. Even though some would've like to see a traditional microUSB port, it instead resorts to using a proprietary 30-pin port which isn't something different in the tablet world.

We're greeted to a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with dual-LED flash in the rear while a VGA front-facing camera is discretely placed above the touchscreen. The rear metallic cover plays a crucial role in not only protecting its innards, but it keeps the device powered while connected into place. In fact, sliding it off will instantly kill power to the device – and thus offering you access to the SIM card slot, 1530 mAh battery, and microSD card slot. Finally, the speaker grill is found in a groove located on one side of the rear cover.

Dell Streak 360-degree view:

*UPDATE: Please note that Dell has issued an update to Android 2.2 Froyo for the Streak, fixing many of the problems that originally plagued the handset, and adding a brand new interface, called Stage. Please check our revision article for an up-to-date opinion on the qualities of the Dell Streak.

Interface and Functionality:

If there's something that'll quickly turn off people, it has to be the Dell Streak's appetite for dining with Android 1.6 Donut versus newer offerings like a tasty Eclair or Froyo. Not only will it soon become three versions old with the subsequent advent of Gingerbread, but it already falls behind the pack in terms of the full Android experience. Luckily, it sounds that Dell will soon remedy the situation with updates for Eclair – with Froyo being hopeful. And even though it'll require some casual Android users to adjust to its unique customized experience, everything manages to chug along at a satisfactory rate thanks to the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 chipset under the hood. Some may find it rather strange at first that the homescreen offers only a landscape view, but bearing in mind that the Streak is a tablet, it seems understandable that Dell has decided to choose landscape for its primary layout. Like other Android devices, you can personalize it with a variety of widgets, shortcuts, and folders.

Recommended Stories

Nothing out of the ordinary with the Dell Streak's address book as it syncs with your Gmail contacts and offers a myriad of detailed information that can be associated with each person. Meanwhile, its partner services Facebook and Twitter will enable you to combine contacts from your respective social networking accounts from the onset.

You'd imagine that a handset boasting an impeccable amount of real estate would exude a venerable messaging experience, but instead, it feels a bit more challenging. Rather than taking advantage of its sheer size, the buttons of its portrait style keyboard are still too small, but it does offer a dedicate row for numbers. Fairly responsive in nature, the speed of typing is painstakingly reduced because of that sole reason – and it doesn't improve with the landscape option. In fact, the numeric keypad on the right hampers in guiding our thumbs to the correct locations of buttons.

The Gmail app works like anything else we've seen on an Android device as it envelops the usual mix of features customary to it – like threaded view and the ability search emails. Even though it's common to not find any instant messaging client on an Android smartphone aside from Google Talk, the Dell Streak is graced with the presence of the Android Market which offers a treasure trove of clients to fill your instant messaging needs.

Aside from the usual mix of Google apps preloaded, there isn't much in regards to third party apps with the Dell Streak. However, it manages to include items like Amazon MP3 Store, Voice Control powered by Nuance, Quickoffice for your productive suite, and TouchDown as an alternative offering to get support for Microsoft Exchanger Server.

Camera and Multimedia:

To our amazement, the Dell Streak's 5-megapixel auto-focus camera works nearly flawlessly in sunny outdoor conditions as it captures plenty of sharp details while complementing it with saturated looking colors. However, the same cannot be said about the quality it produces in low lighting conditions as images quickly dematerialize with their muddy looks and slightly off color tones. Even worse, the dual-LED flash is completely useless seeing that it struggles in illuminating figures that are 3 feet away. So even though it doesn't play well in low lighting conditions, we're happy with the respectable quality with its outdoor shots in great lighting. Additionally, the camera interface employs a ton of features and options to keep even the most seasoned photographer content.

With a maximum video recording resolution of 640 x 480, its futile to even attempt to consider it to play head-on with the likes of some smartphones boasting 720p capture. Although it would've been nice to see it sport 720p (NOTE: Dell Streak now has 720p video capture after, after the Android 2.2 update. Please see our revision article for an updated opinion!), its quality is less than appealing seeing that it moves at a rate of 20 frames per second. Nowhere close to offering stunning visuals, some people can still appreciate its performance.

Dell Streak Sample Video:

Being a slight departure from the usual things we're accustomed to seeing, the music player on the Dell Streak offers a tasteful presentation that proves to be more dynamic than others. Not only does it display the album cover, track information, and on-screen controls, but you can execute a swiping motion to revert to single carousel view to browse through your library. As for its audio quality from its speaker, it's surely more than equipped in emitting some stringent tones, but it seemingly crackles when placed at the highest volume setting.

Combining its 5” display and snappy processor, it makes for a conducive video watching experience. Even though it blazes through a video encoded in MPEG-4 800 x 480 resolution without much effort, the Dell Streak begins to show small signs of slowdown when playing a 1280 x 720 video. Regardless of that, it shouldn't sway anyone in regarding it to be more than acceptable.

The media gallery employs some nifty graphical elements with its 3D cube like effects when switching between portrait and landscape. And aside from having the ability to share content through an eclectic mix of services, there is just a wealth of editing options to carefully brighten or improve photos. 

Media buffs should be more than agreeable with the 16GB microSD card preloaded with the smartphone, but for those with a voracious appetite, it can always be replaced with cards up to 32GB in size.

Internet and Connectivity:

Not only will the Dell Streak make for a great airplane trip companion, but it'll be more than usable abroad thanks to its quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and tri-band UMTS (850/1900/2100 MHz) connectivity. And if you're unable to establish a solid data connection, you can switch to using its 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi as an alternative option. In addition, it has support for Bluetooth 2.1 to allow a variety of wireless devices to connect to it.

Without question, the tablet's lack of support for Flash Player 10.1 (NOTE: Dell Streak now has Flash 10.1 Player support, due to Android 2.2 update. Please see our revision article for an up-to-date look at the qualities of the Dell Streak.)  is an eyesore for something with such a heavy focus on web browsing. Overlooking that, we're still treated to a good web browsing experience that'll cater to just about anyone. Although its pinch gestures to zoom in/out might not look the smoothest out there, it still nonetheless gets the job done. Complex web pages load up in a timely manner, while its fluid kinetic scrolling will undoubtedly make navigating such a breeze with the quick flick of your finger.


Regretfully, there's nothing pretty with calling quality with the Dell Streak as voices on both ends exhibit muffled and distorted tones – and it doesn't get any better when there is a conspicuous amount of static in the background on our end. Switching to the speakerphone, it manages to produce some strong tones, but the all too distinct muffled tones are evident once again – plus, there's the appearance of echoing on the loudest volume setting. All in all, its combination of difficulties makes for one abysmal experience.

Keeping steady at -73 dBm in high coverage areas, we didn't experience any problems with the Dell Streak suddenly losing connection to the network in the greater Philadelphia region.

If there's one thing we're most impressed about the Dell Streak, it has to be its unanimous phenomenal battery life. With a full charge in tow, we managed to get 3 days of light usage with the smartphone – with a focus on texting, web browsing, and playing games. Needless to say that it's more ideal to take on a weekend getaway seeing that it'll provide some much life on the road.


Size does matter, and in the case of the Dell Streak, it makes all the difference for those who are considering this tablet. In a way, its diminutive display might initially appeal to a wide audience for being more pocketable, but when it comes down to becoming a functional tablet, it makes for a challenging experience. Since it's regarded as a tablet, the Dell Streak truly tests the limits of what consumers would still consider a respectable tablet experience – which is evident with its unusual on-screen QWERTY. However, it's still knowingly a more compact solution over other tablets in the market – while still playing itself as a smartphone replacement. Even though Android 1.6 limits its ability to truly stand above the greats, we'd imagine that an upgrade to Android 2.2 Froyo would remarkably add more luster to its coating. It's not to say that the Dell Streak is handicapped for right now, but until then, we'd settle for some more functional tablets like the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

*UPDATE: The Dell Streak has been updated to Android 2.2 Froyo, which fixed many of its issues and added lots of new functionality. Please check our revision article for an updated opinion of the tablet!

Software version of the reviewed unit: Android 1.6; Build 6267; OEM Version GAUSB1A111100

Dell Streak Video Review:


  • Streamlined & clean look
  • Solid construction
  • Produces nice looking outdoor photos
  • Great Battery Life


  • No Flash 10.1 support
  • Bland looking photos
  • Abysmal calling quality

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

8 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless