Sure this phone is quite “long-in-the-tooth” by now, and I’m about 12-18 months late to the party, BUT I saw that Amazon had the unlocked Dell Venue Pro for 229 bucks, like new, from the Amazon Warehouse…so I said “WTH” and bought it.

Now granted I’m still in the “honeymoon” phase with my new toy, but will strive to give an unbiased review.

Let me lay down the specs for you:

  • 1Ghz Snapdragon 8250 Scorpion w/Adreno 200 graphics (same as all 1st gen WP7 devices on GSM networks, CDMA devices use the 8650 chipset)
  • 512MB RAM
  • 8GB or 16GB Storage (depending on your configuration, mine is 8GB)
  • 4.1″ AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass
  • 802.11b/g/n for wifi
  • Configured for either T-Mobile or AT&T GSM bands (mine is T-Mobile)
  • Portrait QWERTY keyboard
  • 1400 mAh battery (lasts a full work day + more, for me)
  • 5MP auto-focus camera, with Anti-Banding settings and LED flash
  • Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango”

 

Gripes / Grrr

Firstly, I will be honest and state that there are a few annoying issues with this phone, but you may not care so much about these, as I do. My first issue (that I noticed right away)  is the lack of haptic feedback when using the Back, Home, and Search keys. I can’t believe an engineer actually thought this was a good idea. Sure it’s ok if you are looking at the device when performing that action, but how often do we do that? So this was the first “gotcha” that I noticed.

The second issue that I have with the phone, is the design choice for the volume and power buttons. If you are looking from the top of the device, down, you will see that the headphone jack and the power button are symmetrically placed on opposite ends of the top, and they are the same size in diameter. This makes the power button difficult to find and press, because of its small size. I’m fine with the power button being on top of the phone, but don’t make it the same size as the headphone jack AND make it flush with the rest of the phone. Perhaps a better design would have been a button of the same size, but maybe raised higher than the body, so it can be easily found and pressed.

As for the volume button, it is found on the upper right side of the device, along the beautiful chrome accents. To me, this button is also too small and it is placed too high on the device. I mean, with a phone this big, we’ve got plenty of real estate to work with here…so I’m not sure what Dell was thinking on this one either.

*The camera button is found in exactly the same place as any other WP7 device. In the lower right hand corner. I have no issues with it.

* It has a Digital Compass feature, but Dell has disabled it. No one knows why.

 

Thoughts on Gripes / Grrr

Overall I think Dell COULD have made the best of the 1st Gen WP7 devices if they had:

  1. Dropped the qwerty and made it thinner.
  2. Made the minimum storage 16GB instead of 8GB.
  3. Changed the layout of the volume/power buttons. Volume button should be on the left side, and power button should either be on the right side, or make it a slightly raised bar, where it is currently located.
  4. Given haptic feedback for the 3 hard keys (Back/Home/Search)…I mean who thought that was a good idea?

 

What I Like / Yaaay

Now, despite my gripes, there is plenty to like about this phone too. My favorite feature of the phone is IT LOOKS SLICK. Dell made a beautiful phone, and it shows. The huge AMOLED screen is a joy to look at. The colors pop and everything just looks beautiful. The best feature of the screen is the Gorilla Glass. No more screen protectors for me! Also, this phone has THE BEST build quality of any device I’ve ever used, and it feels great in your hand.

  1. BIG (and beautiful) 4.1 inch AMOLED screen w/Gorilla Glass.
  2. Slick form factor and design…very professional looking (the rubber accents at the top/bottom are a nice touch, as is the chrome along the sides).
  3. Good loudspeaker and earpiece.
  4. Nice springy and responsive qwerty (when I actually use it).
  5. Very nicely designed backplate/battery cover. The diamond accents provide a nice grip on the back of the phone. My HTC Arrive and Samsung Focus Flash slip out of my hands all the time because they are so slick on the backside.
  6. The 5MP camera is much better than most of the other 1st gen devices, specifically HTC, (don’t know about the OG Focus) and the camera has anti-banding settings.
  7. The 1400mAh battery is on par with other Windows Phone devices. For me, it will last an entire day+ with moderate usage.

Despite the devices shortcomings, Dell made a good first generation smartphone, but it could have been better. I would venture a guess that it would be 2nd best of the bunch, behind the Samsung Focus.

 

The Verdict

In the interest of full disclosure, I bought this device myself and am using it on my T-Mobile pre-paid plan. The device is the 8GB model, though I plan on replacing the 8GB MicroSD card, with a 32GB once the device warranty runs out later this year.

With that said, I would definitely recommend this device to anyone that is on T-Mobile and is looking for a quality built device that runs Windows Phone 7. The device is gorgeous to look at, has pretty good performance for a 1st gen device (especially post Mango). The only potential downside is Dell’s lack of interest in the Windows Phone platform, which is really odd considering how they are Microsoft’s largest OEM partner for desktop Windows. Hopefully they will reconsider their decision on Windows Phone, and come back with another killer device that runs Apollo.

With this device available off contract and unlocked, directly from Amazon, for less than 250 dollars, it’s truly a steal of a device. You aren’t stuck in a contract, plus you get a pretty sweet device that is built well and looks fantastic. If you are sitting on the fence, I would suggest that you take a gamble and get it. If you aren’t convinced, then you can also get the 1st gen Samsung Focus for slightly less than the DVP, also at Amazon, however you will be stuck on EDGE data, since the Focus uses AT&T 3G frequencies. If you don’t want to take a chance with Amazon, you can still get the DVP, directly from Dell, for $299.

**Update**

I recently decided to remove the 8GB MicroSD card that came with the phone, and replaced with a class 4 32GB Sandisk MicroSD card instead. The phone has performed flawlessly, and now I have enough room for all my tunes, apps, and videos. So now, this awesome phone is even better!