Dell Streak: Bad Reviews – Are they justified?

By Alan Ng - Aug 30, 2010

As most of you will be aware, the Dell Streak is now available to buy either on contract with AT&T, or without contract for around $549.99 in the US. The device has come in for a fair bit of criticism after release though – we want to know if you think it is fair or not.

We’ve picked out this article from the Associated Press, which gives you an idea on why the Dell Streak is actually not as impressive as first seemed prior to release.

Key reasons for this is the fact that the device doesn’t even come with Android 2.1. Android owners these days get pretty impatient when waiting for the latest update to Android 2.2 Froyo, so imagine their surprise to find out that the Dell Streak only ships with Android 1.6.

Other problems include a touchscreen keyboard which isn’t user friendly when texting, ‘dismal’ speaker quality, and far from perfect call quality. Aside from these problems, the Streak does contain an excellent camera, and takes high quality pictures using the 5 megapixel sensor.

We still don’t have any indication when the Streak will be upgraded with Froyo and Flash support, but at the moment – it seems to be receiving far more negative reviews than positive.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree with the negative feedback or not?

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Also See: Dell I31620003BLU Inspiron 11.6″ Laptop review for portability

  • Marc G

    The criticism is definitely unjustified. I have one running 2.1 and using launcher pro. Its the best phone experience I’ve ever had. (And I’m comming from a Nexus One!) And when it gets froyo, its really going to kick ass!

    Once you’ve used a 5 inch screen, its impossible to go back. Its the perfect size for a true geek like me. Every phone I buy in the future will be this size! Save all criticism for when they release 2.2 and THEN review it. And I dare you to give it a bad score!

  • gluonspring

    The bad reviews aren't surprising, given a number of PR failures on Dell's part, the inflation of expectations (remember all of those cool leaked colors?), and a less than competitive price. So the Streak falls short of the ideal tablet/phone. But despite these weaknesses, I think the negativity FAR exceeds the devices actual shortcomings. Take the keyboard. Lots of people don't like the stock keyboard, but we're talking about Android here, not the iPhone. Unlike the iPhone, you can just install a different keyboard if you don't like the stock one, so it shouldn't matter so much what the stock keyboard is like. I actually give Dell kudos for doing something different with the keyboard. It's another choice, different from the dozen other keyboards you can choose from, and choice is good.

    I also think the "Too big to be a phone, too small to be a tablet" reviews are just lazy. What does it even mean to be too big to be a phone? They don't really explain. Or too small to be a tablet? It's precisely like saying it's "too short to be pants, too long to be shorts". A moments reflection will tell you that's just meaningless. It's short pants, or long shorts. Whatever you want to call it, or make up a new name for it, it's clothing of a particular size and you can like it or not. You can say, "It's longer than I like my pants, and shorter than I like my shorts", but you're just expressing a personal preference. It's just as meaningless to say "it's too long to be shorts" as it is to say "it's too big to be a phone". The real question is, "do you like it?", "does it do something for you that would make you prefer it over other devices?"

    For me the answer is a clear "Yes", I do like it. I noticed, after a year with my wife's iPhone 3GS, that I spent very little time holding the thing up to my ear to make phone calls. Most of the time I spent with her iPhone I spent staring into it's tiny screen, trying to read a web page, text a message, check my emails, find something on a map, or snap photos of my child. Look around you, this is more and more what everyone is doing with their "phones". Everywhere you go, people aren't holding them up to their head, they are holding them in their hands squinting at the screen. It dawned on me, and I think it will dawn on more and more people, that I could really use a bigger screen on my "phone". I keep trying to read things or look up things on the web but often end up frustrated because of all of the tedious panning and zooming.

    I contemplated an iPad, but it had several problems for me. First, it's big. That's an asset but also a problem. I'd carry around something the size of an iPad a lot, but not always. The main utility of my wife's iPhone 3GS is that it's always with her. You don't have to plan ahead or ask yourself, "Do I want to take the iPhone?". You just do. You take it to fancy restaurants, you take it to church, you take it everywhere. It sits in your pocket, out of sight, until you actually need it. I just wouldn't carry an iPad to all of those places. Also, the iPad lacks a camera, and I find that I take a huge number of pictures with the iPhone. And, the iPad is not a phone, so I still need a phone.

    So for me, the criteria became pretty clear. I want cell phone, GPS, camera, and the largest screen that is comfortably pocketable (for me, YMMV). The Dell Streak satisfies all of those desires. I definitely wouldn't want anything bigger in my pocket, but I don't mind carrying it in my pocket at all. I can actually read things on it, and see full web pages, navigate with the maps without having a wreck, etc. It's a bit behind the iPhone in games and polish, but those are small prices for being able to have a device that I can actually use for the things I want to use it for. And, a couple of times a day, I get a cell phone call and hold it up to my head and don't feel the least bit self conscious about it.

    While there will always be a market for tiny phones, to fit in tiny bags or tiny fashion pockets, overall I think big is the future of smart phones because everything we actually do on our smart phones is better when the screen is bigger. It's increasingly silly to even call these devices "phones", since most of us spend only a tiny fraction of the time we spend on our smart phones actually making phone calls. Even mobile internet device doesn't quite capture it, because the camera feature is increasingly central too. We really need a new word for the whole category… pocket omni-device, maybe.

  • Randy

    Here are my "WHAT WAS DELL THINKING" top picks

    1. AT&T? You have to be kidding. Real or imaginary poor serivce = STRIKE 1
    2. Android v1.6? Still a fine OS version. But STRIKE 2
    3. Best kept secret? In the general Mom & Pop media. Ever seen it advertised? STRIKE 3
    4. The worst absolute "relase" of a new product. I was fed up waiting. STRIKE 4
    5. Releasing it to the WORLD, just not the U.S part of it? TRADERS! STRIKE 5.

    I liked Dell.. but this has been a HUGE MISTEP and has soured me from some time to com. What do you guees the combined salary is of the folks most responsible for this slow motion crash? Sounds like BONUS time if I know big bussiness. Hello Mr. Dell? Hello?

  • whe

    James B.
    You have totally unjustified criticism. Show me one user who is complaining about 1.6. Further it is not plain 1.6 but modified version. Just visit any streak forum. If you hate dell then you may have reasons but it doesnt stick to streak. I think almost every one has downloaded 2.1 version and that is not an issue at all.

    There may be lots of issue with delivery and marketing of product and this stupid American idea of locked phones and monthly data charges. In Asia the monthly charges for the same services in prepaid mode are about 25 percent of americans.

    You need to explain your strange antipathy to dell as you have no idea what streak is. it is a good product and it may be from Dell but could have been from HP or samsung still it would have remain same great product.

  • Jon

    Absolutely unfounded, The streak is a strong device, although it does have flaws, no more so than the Iphone has had during the first few months of releases. Donut 1.6 is a bad company move but in no way limits the device as stated before there are ways to get Eclair 2.1 running, and in fact was on my device within an hour of opening the box and before making the first phone call. Should Dell have had an update available at time of release… yes. Web browsing is 10x better than the iphone edge/3g/3gs/4 hands-down. As with the iPhone, the stupid decision to have proprietary cords is limiting, but i dont hear anyone using apple complaining anymore. The device does need some software fixing as far as memory leaks, even with task killers it steadily goes down and needs a reboot once a day minimum. The Bluetooth volume is HORRID and needs to be addressed along with EVERY other android device… whats up with that google….. It's as fantastic AND as frustrating as ANY other smartphone on the market. It's big… if you dont like big… dont buy it… just as if you don't like restrictions dont buy iPhone. The difference is… android doesnt constantly update to keep you from doing what you want… once you root it, its yours and there isnt any Big Brother Apple trying to sue you for having fun with your device.

  • James B.

    I think the disappointment is justified. Dell want top dollar for there produce, but they deliver nothing in return. Dell is really the only one that really benifit for there mass produced crap. The put out a produce that has a subpar UI, and then have the nerve to expect top dollar. Yeas, there are some idiots, that think since the are able to root the streak that makes it all good, but at that price why should you have to. I guess Dell is right just throw Android on anything an they will beg you to take there money, Just what has Dell done to create any type of following. As I said before,the UI is subpar V 1.6, , Now again whose laughing all the way to the bank? By the way, that upgrade, don't worry,it will be out sometime this year maybe next. but just incase we dont get around to it,just hack it,thanks. Also, if you are expecting v 3.0, you silly people. Dell having a good laugh on you…

  • Don

    The reviews are puzzling to me, but I suspect if it had shipped with 2.1 and on Verizon they'd all be glowing. AT&T is the best carrier in my area and I can wait a few weeks for 2.1 or 2.2. Furthermore, the Streak fits easily in my pocket, while an iPad (which I bought the Streak in lieu of) does not. Nor does the iPad make calls. Arguing that the Streak us gargantuan is silly. It's not as if it requires special logistics to transport it.

  • Sean

    I bought a Streak unlocked from the UK (I live in Australia) and upgraded it to 2.1. I love it!. The flexibility it offers with a usable screen area is fantastic. I only truly need to bring my laptop out for the occasional session now. I think it has copped a fair dose of undeserved criticism and the few minor shortcomings that it does have (for my needs) can be worked around easily. That being said…I would love to see 2.2

  • Absolutely baffled by the bad reviews – coming from the iPhone 3g, the Streak reminds me of the superb Psion 5mx from over 10years ago (to this date, still unsurpassed as a personal organiser in some respects e.g. 32hrs on 2 AA batteries, full movement keyboard etc)… brought bang up to date the 5″ screen is absolutely perfect for on-the-go web access. The iPhone gave me eye strain, the iPad wouldn’t fit in a pocket – this is as good as it gets right now!

    Fantastic news regarding official Android v2.1… I updated to v2.1 on day of purchase using the leaked firmware and it’s been brilliant, can’t wait for v2.2 for full flash support and more speed/battery life.

    Go Dell, ignore the Apple blinded, feeble minded blog artists and keep with this format!

  • whe

    People who are criticizing are the ones who are either fake or have not used it. The 1.6 is not big limitation and many many people are upgrading to 2.1 themselves. If you read the forum the actual users are very very happy while it seems reviewers are paid to give bad review. There are repeated non sense criticism about android 1.6 or AT&T which are quite bogus.

    Streak is like mini van. Yes it is smaller than a passenger bus but it can be parked in your garrage or most of the garage and is more useful than a car. Streak has extended the use of mobile to practical computing without being bothered to carry additional baggage. Running internet or opening office files or watching movies moves from possible on other phones to practically being done on streak. How many people actually watch a movie on IPhone? or how many actually surf the net for longer duration? On streak you can do this practically without loosing convenience of a mobile.

    May be some frail small woman feel it big to hold against her head but not for normal people. Blue tooth is very normal solution for such small people.

  • ppj

    I think AT&T is a big limitation here. As far as I know, AT&T restricts its Android users from installing applications not from the Market, which limits one of the core appeals of Android—complete freedom.

  • frank

    Na..aah!!! I so looove my streak, regardless the 1.6

  • Sparkletron

    All the issues mentioned in this article can be addresses by an OS update which has already been promised. Not mentioned is that the non-contract $550 Dell Streak is still carrier-locked to AT&T. A $550 phone should not be locked in any way; it should allow users to choose a GSM-compatible network; it should allow "side-loaded" apps; it should operate without a data-plan-associated SIM–or any SIM at all; it should even run other Android distributions (such as the popular CyanogenMod). Dell should fire everyone associated with the decision to lock the Streak down and try to woo back all the T-Mobile customers they left standing at the alter.

  • Kike

    Ridiculous 1.6OS and too expensive compare to similar devices

    • Sinohub

      I’d say Dell Streak is the poorest phone I had ever used. I bought this phone from Strahub and within 10 months, I exchanged the phone for two times all becuase of toudhscreen problems. And the third phone? It got connector problem after two weeks I used it. Go to Dell’s Customer Service, I am told it is not under waranty, the only waybis I need to pay more than S$500 to change a new one! So my suggestion, never never buy a smartphone from Dell!!

  • bori

    No I don't agree. The phone is great coming from the iphone4.