When I did the review of the Dell Streak, one of the things that struck me was the notion that I can use the Streak to make a phone call. I could not imagine myself making a phone call with a 152.9mm x 79.1mm pad. This time around I was loaned the Dell Venue, a smartphone that is based Google’s Android 2.2 operating system. This should not be confused with the Dell Venue Pro, which has almost the same look and feel, minus the physical keyboard and Windows Mobile 7 OS that the Pro possesses.
The Venue’s most pronounced feature is its 4.1 inch WVGA AMOLED touchscreen display. Dell used a high quality Corning Gorilla Glass giving it what I can only describe as true crystal clear display – one of the best I’ve seen so far (and only reminiscent of my experience with some of the high end 3D LED displays out in the market recently). Gorilla glass is optimized for handheld devices and notebook computers Its easy to clean, and wear resistant.
Despite its size 121mm x 63mm x 12.9mm (Height x Width x Thickness) , I didn’t find it anymore bulkier than the other smart phones that I’ve tested before.
WHAT I LIKE
The Venue has smooth metallic (chrome) sides. When I first took it out of the box, I was worried that the metallic sides would mean I would have to handle this phone gingerly for fear it would slip easily off my hands. As it turns out, the back panel has a micro-pattern that gives it just enough texture to give you a firm grip on the phone. In contrast to the HTC or the Sony Ericsson Xperia phones which always kept me on my toes whenever I held the devices for fear I would drop the phone, or it would slip off my hands. The Venue never slipped off my hand during the entire two weeks i was playing with it. I loved the curves ends of this phone as it doesn’t poke when inside my trouser pockets.
This is one of the few smart phones with an 8MP digital camera. The software is very intuitive as is the use of the Venue to take photos. However, quality is still not up to par with a dedicated digital camera with similar rating. I think all camera phones share this problem. They are, first and foremost devices for making calls. Shooting photos is a nice to have function (although increasingly as consumers grow accustom to taking photos and posting these to their Facebook account, having a good camera is becoming a must have feature, second only to making calls.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
Two things irked me using this phone. The first is the lack of a way to lock the phone without blanking out the screen. When you are watching a video, you will want to disable the touchscreen so as not to accidentally pause the video. Unfortunately the lack of such a feature meant, this occurred too many times for me.
But a more disrupting feature for me is the user interface of the Venue. Called Stage, I found it takes some getting used to as the layout is no intuitive (in my opinion only). So for me navigating around the many features of the phone was at times taxing. Often, I end up trying to trace back how to get a specific contact, or surf the web, or make a call.
For those who are using Dell laptops, the Stage software may not be so alienate. Dell uses this same software for accessing music, videos and photos on laptops and other mobile devices.
ONE MORE THING
So would I buy this phone? It’s very likely not for me. I love the external look and the solid feel of the phone when I am holding it. But the clunky user interface is a turn-off. At a suggested retail price of HK$3,999 or US$514, it is not a cheap phone.
The title of this review is “making calls with the Dell Venue” so from that perspective my overall experience is that the Venue is an ok phone. Its not amazing but certainly I found it not anything less than I’d expect from Nokia. I did found it difficult to adjust the loudness of the call when it sounded weak but overall it isn’t a bad device for making calls. Certainly I’ve had worst.
Dell Venue camera flash logo
Dell Venue home page
Music page as displayed by Dell Stage software
Surfing the Web on the Dell Venue
Facebook on the Dell Venue
Side view of the Dell Venue
Operating system: Android 2.2
Processor: Qualcom 1GHz QSD 8250
Bands: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, GPRS, Edge, HSDPA 7.2 MBps
Display: AMOLED 4.1″ 800×480 pixels, 24 bit, 16M colors
Camera: 8MP, autofocus, 4x digital zoom, video and audio record, dedicated camera key
Video: H.264 MPEG-4 AVC, WMV
Messaging: POP3, IMAP, ActiveSync, Push Email, Microsoft Exchange, SMS, MMS, Native IM
Browser: Web 2.0 full HTML, WAP support
Memory: 1GB / 512MB
Storage: micro SD support up to 32GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, AGPS, Bluetooh 21 EDR, A2DP, AVCRP, 3.5mm HSJ, micro-USB
Primary battery: 1400 mAh
Dimension: 121 x 64 12.9mm
Weight: 164 grams
Others: GMS HW compliant with G-sensor, E-compass, Virtual keyboard