Dell Streak review, The first true tablet phone
We love
The size is pitched perfectly for power users
We hate
Said power users would also like to be able to type properly
The first real landscape phone – but someone fix the keyboard

Since we first saw the Dell Streak in hazy spyshots and leaked video way back in 2009, we’ve been wondering just what the company would pitch it as. It’s a huge slate, but it makes calls? Huh? In the end, it left O2 to deal with the branding, and the network is now pitching it as a, well, Dell Streak. So is this a replacement for your mobile, or an iPad rival with a hefty monthly contract? We explain just where it really fits in this part of our Dell Streak review.

Read the rest of our Dell Streak review now:
Dell Streak review
Dell Streak review: Android OS
Dell Streak review: Build and touchscreen
Dell Streak review: Ultimate buyer’s guide

It’s quite clear that an impending tablet war is coming, as the first Android iPad rivals are starting to emerge at tradeshows. But despite the Dell Streak’s large size for a phone, it’s emphatically not an iPad rival. As you can see in the snaps above, it’s a great deal smaller than the iPad: in fact, you can fit approximately three Dell Streaks on top of the iPad’s screen. That limitation puts it in a different category altogether: the iPad is categorically better for sitting on the sofa and browsing the web, or reading ebooks.

The iPad is also a gizmo you’ll pay a one off price for, like an iPod, rather than an iPhone. The Dell Streak will set you back £35 per month on a 24 month contract , or intriguingly, £25 per month for data only, with no option for voice. While it’s great that O2’s seen fit to offer this option, after using the Dell Streak extensively, we can’t see the point of using it only as a tablet.

The size is naturally the issue here: at five inches, the Dell Streak is mansionesque. But believe it or not, Dell’s pitched it at just the right scale (and thickness, or lack thereof) to fit comfortably in your pocket. Throw another candybar or phone in there (Which you may also be paying monthly for), and all of a sudden, you’ve got one bulging, pricey pocket. It’s far better to merge the two together for an extra tenner a month, and use the Dell Streak as your phone. There’s just one thing to bear in mind if you do this: the Dell Streak requires to you to change your perception of how a phone works. It’s a landscape phone, to be held like a tablet.

Sure, a few Nokia phones have tried this before. The N800/900 internet tablets, for instance – but they’re barely bigger than new smartphones, and unless you’re typing, could easily be held in just one hand.

The Dell Streak really can’t, save to tap a quick bookmark in the browser. Instead, you hold it horizontally for almost everything. The keyboard is easier to use this way (Though still awful – why Dell thought a separate number pad to the right would be a good idea is anyone’s guess), the screen is wide enough to make viewing webpages this way, Google Maps looks better this way, and to really emphasise the point, Dell’s locked the homescreens into landscape view.

But so long as you accept this, you’ll love the Dell Streak. It doesn’t have the portability and casual coolness of an iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS or HTC Legend, but in lieu of the epic HTC Evo 4G ever turning up here, this may suit hardcore Android fans down to the ground. Here’s to many more tablet phones – Dell’s definitely on to something with the form factor.

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