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printed October 22, 2014
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Review: Dell Aero

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Screen

The screen on the Dell Aero looks great. The 3.5-inch display pushes 640 by 360 pixels, which is an unusual resolution for Android devices, but not unheard of. Text looks sharp on the Dell Aero, and pictures look colorful and bright. Outdoors, the screen still performed well. It was easily visible in bright sunlight, and the LCD on the Aero bested the OLED screen on my Nexus One by a mile.

Sound

Sound quality on the Dell Aero was also outstanding. My phone calls sounded great. Callers sounded up close and personal on my end. Tones could be a bit warm, with more bass than treble sound, but this wasn’t unpleasant. On their end, my callers reported a slight, occasional hiss, but nothing serious. The speaker on the Dell Aero is also nice and loud. It could distort at the highest volumes, but this was mostly a problem with music. Speakerphone conversations sounded good, even over loud car noise. Ringtones were also loud and clear.

The phone uses ring profiles, a feature that most Android phones lack. I found the profiles difficult to manage; they required lots of menu digging when I just wanted to tap and go. If you want the phone to vibrate, you can’t simply turn down the volume until the phone shakes. You have to dig through the sound profiles to “ring and vibrate,” or just “vibrate.”

Signal

The Dell Aero had no trouble connecting to AT&T’s 3G network. Almost all of my calls went through with no trouble, though a few times the call would fail after dialing and I had to send the call again. Incoming calls found me every time.

The phone was a bit shaky on the data network. Testing the network speed, the phone might be nice and fast one moment, then slow to a crawl the next. Data never stopped completely, but a few consecutive runs of SpeedTest bore this out. Data speeds were simply inconsistent, even sitting still.

I also had trouble with the phone’s Wi-Fi connection. The first time I connected to my home network, everything worked just fine. After a restart, the phone would not connect automatically. When I tried to connect from the Wi-Fi menu, the pop-up screen that asks if you want to Connect, Forget or Cancel the connection did not work; the buttons would not register my taps. I tried multiple restarts, but I was never again able to connect properly.

Battery

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Battery life on the Dell Aero was okay, but it could have been much better. After an initial charge around noon, I used the phone extensively until the evening, but I had a power warning pop up around dinner time. In a longer test in normal use, the phone seemed to sip more slowly, until I turned on the GPS and started navigating. The GPS and camera drained the battery very quickly. If you won’t be using those functions, the Aero can make it through a full day, but you’ll need to charge the phone every night. There is definitely a trade off in the light weight of this phone -- the smaller battery reduces weight at the expense of life.

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