Dell Aero shares Streak roots, without the tablet heft

Dell Aero is the first Dell smartphone to hit the US market – if you don't count the Dell Streak.

Dell Aero is smaller than the Dell Streak. But will consumers go for a Dell smartphone?

Dell Aero – the name conjures images of sleek, spheroid objects winging their way through space. In practice, the Dell Aero is just another Android smartphone, edging itself into a crowded market that grows bigger by the day. The distinction here is that Aero is the first Android smartphone made by Dell, which has previously concentrated its energy mostly on PC sales.

So how does the Aero stack up to other Android devices? Well, for one, the price is right: Dell says the Aero will cost $99 if consumers sign up for a 2-year contract with AT&T. (The Aero is currently available only through the Dell website for $299.) And the phone is 3.67 ounces, which puts it on the lighter end of the smartphone spectrum.

The rest is standard-issue smartphone stuff: a 3.5-inch display, a 5-megapixel camera with 8X zoom, and a microSD slot. No word yet on what kind of Android OS the Aero is running.

It's been a big summer for Dell mobile devices. Earlier this month, Dell rolled out the Streak, an ungainly hybrid – or tweener – that falls somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet. Dell said that the 5-inch touchscreen on the Dell is "ideal for experiencing thousands of Android Market widgets, games and applications, all without squinting or compromising portability."

Critics weren't convinced. In a review of the Dell Streak, Walt Mossberg said the Android 1.6 OS on the Streak was nice – in theory. "But I couldn’t find, and Dell couldn’t identify, any apps written especially for its larger screen," Mossberg wrote. "In fact, a few Android apps I tested seemed to crowd all their icons into just a portion of the Streak’s screen, especially when the device was held vertically, leaving lots of white space."

Here's hoping the Dell Aero acquits itself more ably.

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