Remembering the Lost Hero of Our Times

June is an important month for the mobile industry. And that’s because the most influential phone of recent times was launched in this month some years back.

Being influential doesn’t necessarily mean though that you’ve got to be the successful too. Sometimes, just a single feature of the failed product is enough to revolutionize the whole industry. Which is the case here.

Maybe you’re thinking that I’m talking about the iPhone, released in JUNE 2007. You’re close then but not that much. The IPhone triggered the touchscreen revolution, true that, but the phone we’re discussing in this piece triggered the next big revolution, the revolution of gigantic screens.

I am of course talking about the Dell Streak, which is probably one of the biggest unsung heroes of our times.

Dell Streak was the first phone by a major manufacturer to be manufactured with a 5 inch screen, the first ever phablet.

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But of course, its 2010 we’re in. The Streak, thus, was deemed too big for a phone, too small for a tablet. GSMArena’s review titled ‘Size does matter’ concluded by saying:

“Of course, it might be just us but 5” does seem stuck in the middle of nowhere: it’s either a huge phone or a tablet too small.

We’ve always thought that tablets are supposed to let you leave your laptop at home. With the Dell Streak however goes the other way – it will let you leave your phone at home.” Fair enough.

Still on paper, the Dell Streak was by no means, a dud. To start off, it was a 5 inch display and had a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels which would’ve led to a modest pixel density, but was the norm at the time (for flagships atleast), it wasn’t bad looking (you may disagree though), it had a beefy hardware and of course, the camera was a 5 megapixel unit with 720p HD video recording.

But everyone who knows even a tiny bit about tech knows that the “paper” doesn’t matter much. The phone was launched with the aging Android 1.6 Donut, which was buggy if anything, its homescreen could only be used in landscape and of course, people weren’t even remotely familiar with its ergonomics.

Dell, thus, ended the Streak’s life pre-maturely for good in August 2011. Some “spin-offs” were later created by Dell as well including the-much-more-natural Streak 7 with a 7 inch display but that too failed to create ripples due to several issues (buggy interface to name one). Both of these products, along with some other bulky, outdated phones sealed the fate of Dell from the smartphone, and eventually the PC industry (to some extent atleast), which I find ironical especially after this quote by Michael Dell.

Phablets finally went mainstream in October 2011 after the release of Samsung’s Galaxy Note. The S-Pen alone gave us a reason to buy the thing. If the Dell Streak started the revolution, Galaxy Note nurtured and flourished it. Phablets started hitting the market even without an S-Pen like feature and were still successful. The market had changed.

Fast forward to 2013 and even the flagships by the major manufacturers have got 5 inch (or even bigger) displays. Even the reluctant (fundamentalist, you may add) Nokia and a stubborn Apple had to follow suit. You may or may not like it but if you want the best phone in the market right now, that’s just the way it is. And the Dell Streak is at blame here.

The Dell Streak is then, the Leonardo the Vinci of our times. Too intelligent, too advanced. If you have any doubts, ask Samsung.