Dell introduced on Tuesday its first smartphone, dubbed Aero. Reminiscent of the design of the Palm Pre, the Dell Aero comes in at $99 with a two-year AT&T contract, but falls short of impressing amid the stack of high-end Android phones available today.
Judging by the price tag, Dell is aiming to position the Aero in the budget smartphone area, yet there's nothing going for Dell's entry-level smartphone. If you are looking to buy a new smartphone this autumn, here are three reasons why you shouldn't pick the Dell Aero.
The Dell Aero runs on a 624MHz processor, a notch below most high-end Android smartphones out today, which have processors running at 1GHz.
The display is 3.5 inches and has a resolution of 360 by 640 pixels. In comparison, the Droid X from Motorola has a 4.3-inch screen and the resolution is 480 by 854, while the Droid 2 packs the same high resolution in 3.7-inches of screen estate.
The Aero has a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash, but it doesn't record HD video like the Droid X or the iPhone 4. It has no secondary camera for video calls, but the GPS chip inside the Aero will geotag your photos.
Overall, the Dell Aero has no surprising hardware features that will put it ahead of other Android phones, either in the same price range, or with the Motorola and HTC Android heavyweights.
Really Old Software
To put it simply, Dell's Aero smartphone is an embarrassment to Android. My colleague JR Raphael explains that the Aero runs on Android 1.5, and the software is 16 months old. Android 1.5 is behind in functionality and performance to the latest version of Android, 2.2, and lacks the newest improvements to the user interface, software keyboard, Google Maps, live wallpapers, and voice commands.
Instead, Dell has customized heavily the user interface on the Aero, something that would delay the company significantly if it ever decides to give Aero users a software update to the latest version of Android. Because of the old software on the Aero, many applications from the Android Market won't be compatible with the phone, as they require 2.X version of Android, so you would be stuck with a limited selection of software add-ons to your Aero.
In perspective, the Dell Streak tablet doesn't fare any better, as it comes with Android 1.6. Dell didn't mention when or whether the Aero will be updated to the latest version of Android, but Streak users are expecting an update later this year.
It's on AT&T
The millions of iPhone users are putting a strain on AT&T's network. Complaints about AT&T's network have been mounting over the years, and many users are sticking to it only because they are waiting for an iPhone on Verizon.
Network issues aside, AT&T also killed unlimited data plans earlier this year, so if you want to do some heavy Internet surfing from your phone, better keep an eye on the usage meter.
If you are looking to sign a two-year contract for a smartphone with a wireless carrier, be it AT&T or Verizon, more solid alternatives are out there, be it an Android phone like the Motorola Droid 2 and the Droid X, or the Apple iPhone, which are more expensive, but pack in more power for your buck.