Mobility Digest Review: Dell Venue Pro [Updated]
Today is a happy day(I’m so bi-polar), I just got my Venue Pro in the mail and have been playing with it for the better part of a day. Love how Fedex didn’t even ring the bell. Didn’t know my packaged had even arrived until I tracked it online and it said it was delivered. But no matter, I have my phone and the world is good again! So here are my impressions so far.
The phone is indeed heavy, but the initial weight shock has since subsided. It honestly didn’t feel that much heavier than my HD7 anymore. The second thing I noticed was the screen has a slight blue hue to it. This is especially visible when the screen is displaying white. It’s unfortunate, but I guess this is an issue with AMOLED screen in general. Saturation is amazing, maybe even a little oversaturated. Colors just pop compared to the HD7. Blues are bluer and reds are redder. The panel itself isn’t completely black as with the Focus, but since it’s OLED black produce zero light. I tested this with the lights off and indeed there is nothing emitted from the black areas. This is great for using the phone in the dark. While using the HD7 in a pitch black room(with the brightness on low) the light produced is still very harsh on the eyes. However, with the Venue Pro, I can have it set to high and still be manageable so long as the background is black. The screen is also noticeably less glossy than the HD7.
Build quality is amazing. I don’t think I can stress it enough. It feels like a tank compared to the HD7. It definitely has a premium feel to it. I would put it on par with the iPhone 4, if not slightly above it. The Venue Pro isn’t all that much larger than the HD7. Even with the keyboard, it’s maybe only 2-3mm thicker. Height is identical when you stand them up together and the Venue Pro is actually slimmer around the sides. The textured backing makes the phone easy to grip, as well as look nice. I love how the pattern continues on the back side of the screen. The metallic pattern really makes it stand out. It makes me almost wish the rear panel had the same metallic finish, until I realize that would make the phone way too flashy, and maybe even a little cheap. The subtle elegance of the phone is what’s great. The slider mechanism is stiff, yet easy to open. It provides the perfect amount of resistance. The volume keys are actually easier to press than those of the HD7’s, even though they are flush with the case. The only button that’s hard to press is the power button, but it likewise is better than the one found on the HD7. The curved glass making typing on the screen in portrait mode easier than on the HD7’s bigger screen. This is a minor plus, as you always have the physical qwerty right underneath.
The keyboard is what this phone is all about, and I’m sad to say I was slightly disappointed with it. This isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s not. I just wished the keys were a little more pronounced. Other than that it works without a hitch. I have only made 1 typo on the device and it was my fault not the keyboard’s. I love not having to double check all my words before shooting off an email or sms. When the keyboard is opened, there is a symbol in the status bar area that is enabled letting you know of any special key stokes, like shift, fn, etc. Inverted colors for fn/shift lock.
Sound quality from the speaker grill is leaps and bounds above the HD7. The HD7’s speakers have a very teeny sound to them. In contrast, the Venue Pro’s speakers are not only louder, but provide deeper sounds(without sacrificing the higher end when compared to the HD7). The HD7 managed to output the save volume of sound at 23 as the HD7 did at 30(the max setting), all the while still sounding better. I did notice some distortions on the Venue Pro when the sound was cranked up all the way though, but this was minimal. I was disappointed to discover that it’s not a stereo speaker as we had been lead to believe in videos from the Windows Phone launch, but the single speaker gets the job done quite nicely. The earpiece is also sufficiently loud. Much louder than the HD7 or the iPhone.
Camera quality was ok. I didn’t have the purple/pink hue issue I had with the HD7, but the phone doesn’t seem to do a good job focusing on object. It does finish focusing ridiculously fast, perhaps that’s the problem? I’m just speculating though. You can adjust the ISO setting to 100, 200, 400, 800 or leave it on “Auto/HUR”. There is also a large selection of resolutions to choose from including: VGA, SVGA, XGA, “FOUR_VGA”, UXGA, QXGA, and 5MP. It appears Dell has some additional problems to fix. The camera starts producing black bands in certain lighting conditions, you can see it in the picture to below. The bands were much darker and thicker in the view finder but diminished once the picture was taken.
On the accessories front, the included headphones are the most comfortable ones I’ve ever had included with a device, phone or dedicated mp3 player. They are in-ear canal ones so if you don’t like stuff in your ear then you’re out of luck, but they block out a good amount of noise, aren’t too big and have various sized fittings. There is also a built in mic with a answer/end call key. The AC adapter is nice, much smaller than the HTC one, which was already tiny to begin with.
All in all, the phone great. Is it perfect? No, but then what product is? It’s a great device so far. And I have no regrets buying it. I definitely recommend it over the HD7. Even if you don’t need the keyboard, the added bulk isn’t that much and you get a much higher quality device for your money. The difference between 4.1” and 4.3” is likewise not that big and the screen quality is just so much better on the Venue Pro. Did anyone else get their Venue Pro today? If so, tell us what you think of it so far in the comments. I will review the Otterbox case for the Venue Pro soon so stay tuned.
[Update] Since writing this post, I’ve suffered a freeze or two while using the phone. This is far from a deal breaker unless it continues to happen. I will keep you guys updated if the problem persists. I think this is by far the worse of bugs, yet I would not retract my decision in ranking this far above to the HD7.
Wow – if they knew how to launch a product they’d sell a metric shit-ton of these.
Regarding the camera, WP7 seems to do somethnig weird. If you shoot video it auto-focuses. You want a still and you need to manually rpess down half way to focus and then shoot. Why would you ever want to half press when you can always autofocus? No idea why they put us through shit like that…
Great review, Danny! Like your attention to and appreciation of the aesthetic detail put into this design. While I don’t need the physical keyboard, this phone just looks so delicious; I may have to go ahead and order it. I was waiting on the Asus, but…….
So glad I returned my HD7 to get a Dell Venue Pro, hoping it comes next week. The screen was the main reason I returned it after comparing it with a Focus, but you’ll be surprised the number of people who claim the screens are comparable in quality. If Dell gets serious and fixes their problems and produce devices of this calibre they can give HTC a run for their money.
I think if Dell can manage to streamline their manufacturing channels, they can probably get away with not even fixing the issues I’ve found so far to outsell HTC. At this point, I think the most important thing is marketing, they need to get across to the public that this is a premium device and it will sell like hotcakes. Not to mention the Venue is set to be released soon. Dell is sure to have a hit on it’s hands if they play their cards right. Although I hope they do fix the problems with the Venue Pro. Would make it that much closer to perfection…
Really happy for you Danny. You are finally getting to experience WP7 bliss. Question though. The Dell website lists the VenuePro at 0.60″ thick (15.24mm) and the HD7 at 0.44″ (11.18mm). Difference in weight is 1.09oz (5.71 vs. 6.80). Your width and height dimensions are right on. Does that sound about right to you? Just trying to get some perspective versus my chubby 0.51″ thick Surround.
@jimski, I’ve had the HD7 for a month now so I’ve had the joy of WP7, but the Dell is just so much better….as for the measurements, they sound about right. By the numbers it seems like a big deal. However, it’s really not that noticeable in person. Don’t get me wrong, I can feel the difference, but it’s not substantially heavier/thicker and it definitely doesn’t bother me. Then again, I was using the N97 for a good while and that is about the same as the Venue Pro in thickness. I think the added thickness makes the phone easier to grip as well. Perhaps next to the Focus, the Venue Pro would seem chubbier, but I think in day to day use it’s really not that bad, especially when you consider what you get. I would sacrifice a few ounces/grams for quality construction any day.
I know. But the HD7 was like an uwanted step child. Now you got what planned for. Was not trying to highlight the size of the VenuePro. Simply wanted to point out that some people actually prefer a slightly thicker device. With the hard shell, my Surround is about the same thickness as a naked VenuePro and I really do like the way it feels in my hand. And if HTC could somehow create an extended battery/hard shell combo (my idea so I have dibs on the prototype) that would add another ounce, but no additional bulk to the phone, I would be in Plenty O Power Heaven. Different strokes for different folks. That’s why they released 5 US models (with a few more on the way). It’s all about choices.
very true on all counts. I actually have an otterbox commuter case on it right now and i think it’s still an ok size. Another reason why I wanted the Venue Pro was the larger battery. Not sure why HTC skimped on the battery, the Venue Pro batter is essentially the same size even with the bigger capacity.
Would you use a screen protector with the glass? Or is it gorilla style tough?
@Phaet2112 check out the scratch test I did on the gorilla glass and see for yourself http://mobilitydigest.com/dell-venue-pro-scratch-test/
Thanks for your review, pretty indepth and not like the many generic ones online. Quick one though. How’s the sound quality through the headphones compareed to say the iPod. I imagine using this as an audio player, is there an equalizer etc? Secondly anything regarding the 256/512MB ram debacle? Thanks
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