Dell Aero Android Smartphone Arrives on ATandT

Dell introduced the Android-running Aero smartphone, calling it its first U.S. smartphone - a designation that puts the Streak in clear tablet terms. With an AT&T contract, the Aero is just $99.99.

The Dell Aero is now available on the AT&T network, Dell announced Aug. 24. The smartphone, which Dell is calling its first in the United States, runs version 1.5 of Google's Android mobile operating system, also known as "Cupcake." It's priced at $100 with a two-year AT&T contract, or $300, via the Dell Website without a contract.

The launch of the Aero follows the Aug. 13 debut of the Dell Streak - a "hybrid" device that in size and pricing is something of a large smartphone or a small tablet. The Streak is also available on the AT&T network, or unlocked at an unsubsidized price. With the Aero, however, there's no second-guessing - it's a smartphone all the way.

"The Dell Aero is built with a focus on style and performance to help people find new ways to connect with friends and express themselves socially, supported by the nation's fastest mobile broadband network," Ron Garriques, president of Dell Communications Solutions, said in a statement.

Long and lean, the Aero measures 4.8 by 0.46 by 2.28 inches and weighs just 3.67 ounces. By comparison, the Streak measures 6 by 0.4 by 3 inches and measures 7.7 ounces, and the Apple iPhone (still the measuring stick for all smartphones) is 4.5 by 0.37 by 2.31 inches and weighs 4.8 ounces. It features a 3.5-inch multitouch display (same size as the iPhone) with pinch-to-zoom functionality and a resolution of 640 by 360 pixels. (Last comparison: the iPhone display, notably, is 960 by 640 pixels.)

Staying focused on the Aero, Dell has packed in the features usually arriving on phones at twice the price. The 3G-running Aero supports quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and tri-band UMTS/HSDPA (850/1900/2100MHz) networks. There's also WiFi connectivity - users going for the AT&T contract will receive "free" access to the carrier's 20,000-plus hotspots - as well as Bluetooth, GPS and assisted GPS.

Dell has included its own user interface on top of Android, and the Aero ships with Quick Office, Facebook, Twitter and a number of Google applications already installed. Facebook and other social-networking apps are additionally accessible with a single tap.

The Aero also comes with a 5-megapixel camera with 8-times zoom, flash, a dedicated camera key, and shooting and editing capabilities. Also on board are a 2GB microSD card expandable to 32GB and support for Adobe Flashlite, a full HTML browser, POP, IMAP and Webmail email accounts, and Microsoft Active Sync Email.

Dell was recently rumored to also have a smartphone called the "Thunder" in the works. While also long and lean and running Android, Engadget reported that the Thunder features a 4.1-inch display and an 8-megapixel camera.

Like rising smartphone giant HTC, Dell appears to have placed its smartphone bets with Android OS, which has proven to be the fastest-growing OS in the country. Dell's Mini 3 smartphone - the very first phone offering from the Texas PC maker - was introduced in November 2009 and debuted on Brazil's Claro network and in China on China Mobile.

Dell has not yet shared sales figures for the Streak, and during a conference call to announce revenue for its fiscal 2011 second quarter, executives kept the focus primarily on the company's commercial business, offering little more than to express that it expects the tablet market to grow, and that there's major buzz connected with Android.

"Certainly there's a lot of excitement around Android," CEO Michael Dell said during the call, "and we're participating in that."

EDITOR'S NOTE: The text has been corrected to reflect that the Aero runs Android 1.5, not 1.6.