Dell Venue Review

Introduction and Design
Introduction:

More than a year ago, an Android powered Dell smartphone going by the codename of “Thunder” rocketed onto the scene showcasing the kind of engineering marvel that’s being concocted over in Dell’s camp. Fast forward to early this year in February, the Dell Venue finally became a reality by bringing all the wonderful things we saw with its Windows Phone 7 counterpart in the Dell Venue Pro – sans the keyboard though. On paper, this $99.99 on-contract Android 2.2 Froyo handset seems pretty bountiful with its perceived high-end specs, but it’ll be interesting to see how Dell’s Android beauty will stack up with the ever-evolving competition.

The package contains:

  • Dell Venue
  • microUSB Cable
  • Wall Charger
  • 16GB microSD card
  • Stereo Headphones
  • Getting Start Guide
  • Warranty and Support Information

Design:

Exact in almost every way to its Windows Phone 7 sibling, except for the distinguishable fact that it’s a solid candybar handset without a keyboard, the Dell Venue’s industrial design sports some elegant qualities that ultimately make it shine in every way imaginable. With its angular cutouts, chrome trim plated sides, and sturdy pattered plastic rear casing, everything about the Dell Venue is characteristically appealing to look at and hold. Even though it’s not the slimmest (0.51” thick) or most compact (5.78 oz) thing we’ve seen, it’s nevertheless able to capture our attention with its refined design elements.
 


You can compare the Dell Venue with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Without a doubt, one of the defining things about the Dell Venue is its wickedly robust 4.1” WVGA (480 x 800) AMOLED display with support for 16.7 million colors. Needless to say, everything pops out with its sharp details, vibrant looking color production, and high-contrast. Moreover, it sports some awesome viewing angles that enable colors to retain their appearance at every angle – though, it still requires a good shade outdoors. Even though it doesn’t offer any advantages, the curved nature of the display adds this neat looking distorting effect when viewing it at extreme angles.


Granted that it resorts to sticking with a three button layout, we don’t have any issues accidentally pressing any of the capacitive Android buttons below the display – mainly because they’re spaced evenly from one another. Meanwhile, we find its thin looking earpiece grill, light, and proximity sensors perched above the touchscreen.


Despite appearing flush to the surface, the dedicated power, volume, and shutter buttons exhibit a reasonable amount of feedback when pressed. Surprisingly enough, there’s a dedicated vibration switch located on the left side of the phone to instantly place it into vibration mode. Also, the 3.5mm headset jack, microUSB port, microphone, and speaker are located around its sides.


Placing our attention in the rear, we spot an 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash and its large chrome plated Dell logo. Sliding off the plastic rear cover, we gain access to its 1,400 mAh battery, SIM card, and microSD card slots.



Dell Venue 360-degrees View:





Interface and Functionality:

Indeed considered to be high-end 6 months ago, its 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8250 processor is more akin to fit the mid-range market nowadays – but still, it’s capable of performing decently with normal tasks. However, its performance isn’t as responsive as we’d like mainly due to some presence of lag when trying to navigate between its homescreens. Beautifying the Android 2.2 Froyo experience, the handset is graced with Dell’s Stage UI, which is in use with the Dell Streak 5 & 7. Naturally, we like the functionality with some of Dell’s widgets, which take up the entire space of a single homescreen, but it doesn’t feel as practical for the Venue’s smaller display. Even though it doesn’t compete at the same level with HTC’s Sense UI, it’s an admirable offering from a manufacturer that is still relatively a small player in the Android game.


Presented with an adequate amount of real estate, speed typing with its on-screen keyboards is no problem at all thanks to its tight responsiveness. At the same time, buttons are moderately sized to offer plenty of room to accommodate even the largest of fingers. Obviously, its landscape options are more preferable in typing out long posts, but you even have the Swype keyboard on board as an alternative.


Thanks to its sizable display, there’s less scrolling required in reading emails entirely with the Gmail experience, which so happens to be feature filled of course like any other Android smartphone out there. In terms of setup, it’s the same usual process by providing your email address and password for automatic setup. With less popular services, it’ll require you to add more information, like server addresses and ports, to completely set up.


Being an Android device and all, we’re treated to the usual assortment of Google apps, but we also find some third party ones preloaded as well. In fact, we find apps like AccuWeather, Amazon MP3, Assistant Free, Backup & Restore, CoPilot Live, Evernote, Facebook, Kindle, Quickoffice, TuneIn Radio, and Zinio Reader. Additionally, Dell’s presence is known on the handset with apps like Dell Video Stage and Dell Sync.  



Camera and Multimedia:

As a whole, the Dell Venue’s 8-megapixel auto-focus camera manages to dish up some sub-average looking shots. In sunny outdoor conditions, it does manage to capture a fair amount of sharp details and neutral looking colors, but, conversely, it fails miserably in low lighting conditions mainly because it’s riddled with hazy visuals and subtle amounts of noise. Sadly, the LED flash lacks any potency and doesn’t even remotely illuminate the scenery – even at 3 feet away!




Regrettably, its high-definition 720p video recording is rather unappealing with its soft looking visuals, choppy 20 frames per second capture rate, and hissy audio recording. Moreover, there’s a noticeable amount of artifacting present when panning quickly or recording fast moving items. In any event, it’s not pretty by any means.

Dell Venue Sample Video:



Finding the traditional stock Android music player, it’s undoubtedly functional in playing songs – but don’t expect to find any glitzy looking visuals. Surprisingly, the Dell Venue’s speaker is seemingly deafening at the loudest setting, and tends to sound rather irritating too. However, setting it down a few notches makes the experience a bit more pleasant to the ear.


Thanks to its luscious looking AMOLED display, we’re able to enjoy watching a video encoded in MPEG-4 1080 x 720 resolution with no issues at all. Not only does it move swimmingly at a consistent rate, our eyes are fixed squarely to the popping colors produced by the AMOLED display – not to mention its sharp details too!


For something priced at $99.99 with a contract, we’re thrilled to find a 16GB microSD card preloaded with the smartphone. However, if that’s an inadequate amount, then you can double it by switching it out with a 32GB one.

Internet and Connectivity:

As much as we love that it offers Flash support, the Dell Venue struggles at times to provide a steady web surfing experience to make it lovable. In fact, its performance with navigational functions, like kinetic scrolling and pinch zooming, seems to be strained when Flash content is present – but when it’s not, the handset swimmingly functions well. Nonetheless, setting the browser to “on demand” with plugins, its performance is much more tolerable to accept.


Seeing that Dell also sells the handset as an unlocked model, this GSM smartphone is able to place voice phone calls in almost any location around the world. In the US though, it’s enabled to run on AT&T’s 3G network – with EDGE support only with T-Mobile. Much like most other contemporary smartphones, it features connectivity features like 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, and aGPS.



Performance:

Calling quality with the Dell Venue is less than engaging since voices sound hollow on both ends of the line – and at the same time, static and background noise litter the experience through the earpiece. Switching to the speakerphone, it’s evidently profound with its boisterous tones, but muffled voices lessen its output.

Running on T-Mobile’s network, the handset manages to pull in a decent amount of signal strength at -71 dBm. However, we experienced a couple of dropped calls during our testing in the greater Philadelphia area.

Charging up its battery fully, we’re able to achieve a talk time of 6.5 hours before completely dying. With normal every day usage that primarily consists of web surfing, emailing, texting, and the occasional phone call, we’re able to easily get a solid day’s use out of the handset – though, it’s ideal to charge this one nightly. Light users will naturally get more juice, but heavy users might want to charge it throughout the day to retain a decent battery level.

Conclusion:

Honestly, one of the best things about the Dell Venue is the fact that it’s one of those handsets you don’t quite expect to see in the wild – thus, it’s able to stand out more amongst the usual pack of smartphones out there. Looking into it more, Dell has done a magnificent job with its design, and much like its Windows Phone 7 sibling, every inch of it seeps with elegance – though, it doesn’t quite hit the high marks in all categories with its performance. In the end, its $99.99 price point is fitting for a handset with its hardware, but no longer competes on the same level as some of the newer handsets on the scene. For the money, it’s a respectable offering that stands out from the usual crop out there.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 2.2
Build number: 13505
Kernel Version: 2.6.32.9-perf

Dell Venue Video Review:





Pros

  • Gorgeous looking handset
  • Mesmerizing AMOLED display
  • Reasonably priced at $99.99

Cons

  • Stutters with Flash content
  • Shoots ugly looking 720p videos
  • LED flash is nearly worthless

PhoneArena Rating:

7.5

User Rating:

9.0
1 Reviews

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