First Looks: Dell Venue
Setting the Stage
Dell has come a long way since its Windows Mobile days, and like most other major manufacturers, has decided that the Android platform is the perfect stage for its latest smartphones. While it isn't the first Android phone to come out of the company's pockets, the Dell Venue takes a departure from the conventional design elements found in other Android phones. Let's take a quick gander at what it has to offer.
The Dell Venue is a classy-looking phone that will appeal to the corporate types mostly due to its chrome edges, and slightly curved 4.1-inch Gorilla Glass display. To add on, the phone's rounded edges make for a sturdier and more comfortable grip. The Dell Venue itself is rather unusually-shaped, featuring a elliptical top and bottom.
Another thing to note is that while we liked the phone's solid build, the Dell Venue does feel a bit too bulky and heavy at 165g compared to other competitors. Other unique touches that we also fancied include a handy silent ringer/vibration mode switcher on the left and a dedicated camera shutter button on the right. The inclusion of the latter is especially welcomed since it is not available on many other Android smartphones.
Admittedly, we were apprehensive about the fact that the phone still runs on the older Android 2.2 OS, and there's no official word on when the phone will get an upgrade to 2.3. Nonetheless, we didn't have any complaints about the phone's performance here - its Snapdragon 1GHz processor ensured that navigation was smooth without any hitches.
On the other hand, we realized that there were times where the screen failed to respond appropriately to our swipes especially towards the corners, perhaps as a result of the curved glass surface. However, thanks to its large 4.1-inch screen, typing felt extremely smooth and speedy on the conventional virtual QWERTY keyboard. There's also a quick shortcut option to select the Swype text input method if preferred.
The Stage UI
The Dell Venue, like its HTC, Samsung and Motorola contemporaries, also comes with its own custom UI. Those familiar with the Dell Streak might have an inkling of Dell's Stage UI but the bottom line here is that the user interface strives to give users a quick and easy way to get to their favorite content, be it videos, news or social feeds, through its Stage widgets.
There are 12 in total and they typically take up the space of an entire home screen. Otherwise, the Stage UI is for most parts fairly rudimentary and in need of some in-depth refinement. We also noted that the UI can get buggy at times, with pages loading incorrectly and displaying weird alignments.
On paper, the smartphone's 8-megapixel camera sounds good. However, the phone disappointed with its sluggish and oft inaccurate focusing capabilities and mediocre picture quality; photos taken in low-light conditions tended towards having a cloudy look. Video recording was also sub-par with mediocre audio capture. Otherwise, both audio and video playback quality was reasonably good with clear vocals for the former and clarity for the latter.
At the end of the day, what's in for those looking for a Dell Venue? Outwardly, the Venue is a charmer no less, with a solid Gorilla Glass touch display framed by chrome edges but it falls short primarily in two areas: user experience and multimedia creation. If you are looking for a no-frills smartphone, this might be the one for you. Otherwise, for its $738 price, you can have your pick from a market crowded with similarly capable Android smartphones.