Where the Dell Venue Pro departs a bit from the Windows Phone norm is in the choice of screen. Rather than using a traditional TFT display, Dell has instead opted for a large 4.1inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 480×800. AMOLED displays does offer battery life advantages, as long as they’re not showing a bright background too often (bright backgrounds drain more power than dark ones on these displays). In fact the look of Windows Phone has been designed specifically to optimise battery life on AMOLED screens, which is why it predominately uses a black background in the main menus.
However, Dell has opted for an AMOLED screen rather than the newer Super AMOLED displays that Samsung uses on the likes of the Galaxy S. This model can’t compete with the natural colour tones Galaxy S’s display, with a slightly murky and overly blue-ish hue. This is especially noticeable when it’s displaying a white background. We’re not trying to say the screen is bad – far from it, but it’s just that it’s not up to the same quality as the one on the Samsung Galaxy S.
To be honest, on large touch screen phones like the Dell Venue Pro we find it hard to see the point of adding a physical keyboard, no matter how good it is. With such a large display used here it’s not exactly difficult to hit individual letters in the on-screen virtual keyboard. Still, we guess this handset is aimed primarily at those moving from messaging phones, such as older Blackberry devices, to touchscreen smartphones.
The good news is that the Venue Pro’s keyboard is fairly impressive. Initially, at least, it seems odd that Dell hasn’t opted for a horizontal sliding design similar to HTC’s 7 Pro, as that would have allowed for a larger, roomier layout. This narrower keyboard feels a lot more like the type you get on Blackberry’s devices. The keys may be on the small side, but they bubble outwards, and are probably closest to those found on Nokia’s E72 in terms of look and feel. They’re easy to type on, and the small amount of travel in each keys makes them very tactile.
The handset sports a 5-megapixel camera, which has both an LED flash and autofocus. The flash is a bit too harsh, and you tend to get bands running across photos when you use it. However, when working outdoors the camera actually performs pretty well as it manages to capture pictures with fairly good colour accuracy. Detail also stands up well when you transfer the photos to a PC to take a closer look. You can also use the camera to capture video at 720p, although the results can be a little bit jerky on fast camera pans.
We had no problems with call quality during our test period, but we did find that battery life was a bit below par, so you can expect to have to charge this handset every night.
The Dell Venue Pro is a pretty good Windows Phone handset. It’s fast, easy to use and the slide-out keyboard is responsive too. However, we can’t help feeling that it’s just a bit too large to be truly comfortable to use, and the screen and battery life could be better.