When we first looked at the retail Windows Phone 7 devices back in September of last year, we had one general takeaway - the hardware, regardless of manufacturer, was fairly conservative. Samsung’s popular Focus is basically just a respecced version of the Galaxy S phone template, while HTC ended up giving the HD2 a mild refresh to create the HD7. The launch was focused on Microsoft’s shiny new OS, but there was one handset that stood out to me - Dell’s new Venue Pro.

Dell has been getting serious about returning to the handheld game, starting with the 5” Streak last year, and now with their stable of smartphones and tablets releasing this year. The Venue Pro was the first to hit market, and it’s a very strong first strike. It’s a portrait slider with a QWERTY keyboard, a 4.1” AMOLED screen, and Snapdragon underhood, and I think it’s the most compelling Windows Phone 7 device released thus far.

The underlying hardware is similar to the rest of the Windows Phone 7 handsets - you get a Snapdragon QSD8250, with the now-standard 1GHz 65nm Scorpion core and Adreno 200 graphics on-board. Beyond that, the spec sheet reads pretty well - there’s a 5MP camera with autofocus and LED flash, 720p video recording, 8GB or 16GB of onboard storage, and a removable 5.18 Wh battery. The curved AMOLED display has protective Gorilla Glass and a WVGA resolution, and the 4.1” diagonal size puts it squarely between the Focus/Galaxy S and the HD7/EVO 4G.

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 HTC Surround LG Optimus 7 Samsung Focus Dell Venue Pro
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 119.7 mm (4.71") 125 mm (4.92") 122.9 mm (4.84") 121.0 mm (4.76")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 61.5 mm (2.42") 59.8 mm (2.35") 65 mm (2.56") 64.4 mm (2.54")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 12.97 mm (0.51") 11.5 mm (0.45") 9.9 mm (0.39") 14.9 mm (0.59")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 165 grams (5.82 oz) 157 grams (5.54 oz) 119 grams (4.2 oz) 176 grams (6.21 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz 1 GHz Qualcomm QSD8250 1 GHz Qualcomm QSD8250 1 GHz Qualcomm QSD8250 1 GHz Qualcomm QSD8250
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 Adreno 200 Adreno 200 Adreno 200 Adreno 200
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 (?) 512 MB LPDDR1 (448 system, 64 GPU) 512 MB LPDDR1 (448 system, 64 GPU) 512 MB LPDDR1 (448 system, 64 GPU) 512 MB LPDDR1 (448 system, 64 GPU)
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 512 MB integrated, 16 GB (Internal Class 4 microSD) 16 GB integrated 8 GB integrated 8 or 16 GB integrated
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 5 MP with autofocus, LED flash, 720P video recording 5 MP with autofocus, LED flash, 720P video recording 5 MP with autofocus, LED flash, 720P video recording 5 MP with autofocus, LED flash, 720P video recording
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 3.8" LCD 800 x 480 3.8" LCD 800 x 480 4" Super AMOLED 800 x 480 4.1" AMOLED   800 x 480
Battery Integrated 5.254 Whr Removable 4.55 Whr Removable 5.55 Whr Removable 5.55 Whr Removable 5.18 Whr

At 176 grams, the Dell is hefty on paper, but when you pick it up it feels lighter than you expect it to. One thing that’s very clear though, whether in pictures or in the hand, is that the Venue Pro is huge. The easiest way to describe the Venue Pro’s size is that it’s roughly as big as the Samsung Focus/Galaxy S and 50% thicker. You get a keyboard out of the bargain, and it’s about as thick as some of the landscape QWERTY devices like HTC’s G2 and EVO Shift 4G, but the Venue Pro is a pretty beefy phone regardless of how you slice it.

Dell did an excellent job with the industrial design, there is no other way to put it. As far as the new line of Windows handsets go, the Venue Pro is easily and by far the best looking of the lot. The glossy black body is nicely offset by the chrome trim on the sides and the buttons, and the design comes across as very high class. As my best friend put it, the Venue Pro is the smartphone a mob boss would carry. The material quality is first rate, with the glass-covered screen, metal sides, and neatly textured plastic back panel exuding a very high quality feel. The weightiness gives the phone a very substantial feel, backed up by the solid spring-loaded action of the slider.

Overall, there’s only a couple of problems with the hardware. The lock button is a small, recessed circular button at the top of the device. It’s a pain to press, and is occasionally unresponsive. The camera button is also small, recessed, and difficult to press, but I’ll get to that later on. Overall though, other than those two or three minor ergonomic mishaps, the Venue Pro hardware is pretty striking.

Dell Venue Pro - Keyboard and Screen
POST A COMMENT

37 Comments

View All Comments

  • VivekGowri - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Yeah, sorry about that. I had to rush the pics, so they got taken in non-ideal lighting conditions and such. They'll be improved next time around though. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    At least the R8 V10 is a much more interesting subject than the usual smiley mug Reply
  • VivekGowri - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    I live right next to an Audi dealership, so my camera samples usually end up being of new Audis. Last time I think it was a 2011 A8, before that a TT or something. I try to keep it interesting :) Reply
  • earle36 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    When this phone came out, it was THE phone I wanted to get. Love the form factor, love WP7. I went to the Microsoft store and played with it a bunch, and decided this was the phone I was going to get. Then, I started hearing about issues with the device. Camera issues (mentioned in the review), device crashes, blue tooth issues, wifi issues, engineering battery sample shipping with the device, SIM card failing, replacement devices completely failing, and so on. In fact there was a thread detailing the issues on the dell support site:

    http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/mobile...

    Some of the points are very picky, and the list has grown quite a bit over time, but there were really some serious issues. Dell has been incredibly slow to respond, but they did respond. What remains on that issues list is mostly "nice to haves", but I thought it was worth mentioning.... Also, a lot of people had terrible luck with the customer support...vague responses about timelines for replacements, fixes for the issues, and so on.

    Thought it was worth mentioning.
    Reply
  • BaronMatrix - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Have no fear. I have ZERO problems. I use the 4G and not WiFi but call quality is great with the included headphones and email is VERY FAST. I needed to get my personal email off of work PCs and this does the job PERFECTLY.

    The KB lets me type long emails easily with ZERO errors.
    Reply
  • Wizzdo - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    "I have ZERO problems"

    Can you explain in more depth the issues you are having with ZERO?
    Reply
  • BaronMatrix - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    It keeps looking like an O. Reply
  • Faruk88 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Would have been nice to see a section on the phone's reception capabilities, like in other recent phone reviews on anandtech! Reply
  • TareX - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    An AMOLED screen that dim would be virtually unusable outdoors. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    While I still can't stand the UI look and could never purchase a WP7 phone on that basis alone, I love the hardware look of this phone.

    Brandon
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now