Dell Mini 5 could be a smartphone alternative
Could Dell’s Mini 5 be a data-only replacement for your smartphone? Only if you can get a 5-inch tablet to fit on your person.
Neeraj Choubey, Dell’s general manager of tablets, confirmed to Laptop Mag that the company is working with AT&T to bring the Android-based Dell Mini 5 to market. He says you can hold the device to your head or attach Bluetooth headsets for phone calls when a SIM card is inserted, and it will even have a front-facing camera for video calls. Those features could make it the most promising data-only small form device yet.
It’s not entirely clear whether AT&T will require a voice plan along with the data service, as it does in all of its smartphones. I imagine the carrier won’t. AT&T hasn’t officially announced a partnership with Dell, but I’m thinking there will be a data-only tablet plan, as A&T will offer for Apple’s iPad, on the assumption that most people will find a 5-inch tablet too bulky to replace a phone outright.
Indeed, the Mini 5 is a sort of an awkward size. As you can see in this TechCrunch video, it fits in one hand, but it’s probably not very accommodating for a pants pocket. That’s creating some skepticism; Van Baker, an analyst with research firm Gartner, tells Wired that the Mini 5 will sit uncomfortably between smartphones and large-screen tablets such as the iPad.
But aside from tech junkies who are itching for an entertainment and productivity device that can also make VoIP calls, the Dell Mini 5 could find another market: Choubey said the Dell Mini 5 may appeal to “this quintessential soccer mom” by consolidating the functions of a navigation device, a Flip camera and a cell phone into one product.
Still, I think a four-inch Android tablet would really hit the sweet spot for power users who want a data-only device that makes phone calls. There’s lots to like about the Mini 5, such as its use of the Android Market and its smooth operation, but if Dell could just shrink it down a little more, I’d be very interested.
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