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printed September 30, 2014
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Review: Dell Aero

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If you think of the Dell Aero as a stylish, somewhat pricey feature phone, it isn’t that bad. Call quality was great. Web browsing is far superior to what you’ll find on other feature phones. The Aero is somewhat more customizable than your average feature phone, with a menu that you can rearrange and the potential for more widgets and capabilities, if you dig through the App Market. Plus, that App Market is a huge bonus for a feature phone, and it beats the pants off the standard, basic download store. The phone has a nice selection of features and apps built in, including Google Maps, a video editor, real Office document attachment viewing and even full-fledged apps for Facebook and Twitter. Compared to other feature phones, the Dell Aero doesn’t look half bad.

But it’s not a feature phone, it’s a smartphone running Android. In this respect, the Dell Aero is a total disappointment. Forgetting that the Aero runs the oldest version of Android of any phone on the market, Dell has skinned the interface to the point that the best features have been flayed. Performance lags dramatically, and many actions that are almost instantaneous on other phones take seconds on the Dell Aero. There are almost no customization options, not even the most basic Google Android widgets. The App Market is nice, but every app I tried had some sort of problem on the Aero, from screens that would not size properly to the Aero’s resolution to missing menus and features to complete performance failures.

If you’re deciding between the Dell Aero and something like the Samsung Eternity II, a basic touchscreen feature phone, the Aero still wins with a better design, more powerful features and solid call quality. It costs only $10 more than the Eternity II, though for another $30 you could have the HTC Aria, which is a much better example of what Android can do in a small package.

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