The Dell Venue Pro is portrait QWERTY slider, and whether you'll like it depends on how you feel about Windows 7. It's a massive phone running on a less popular operating system, but if you're fine with that, it performs well and comes packed with interesting features.
The body is certainly something to behold. It's 4.8-inches tall, 2.5-inches wide, and 0.6-inches thick, and it's definitely not hollow inside at less than seven ounces. If you're upgrading from a smaller phone, it feels substantially heavier and larger than most models. But if you're a fan of the size, the design is attractive, with soft touch bars along the front and bottom and a textured battery back that make it easy to grip.
And with a big body comes a big screen. The Venue Pro boasts a formidable 4.1-inch Super AMOLED screen with a 480-by-800 pixel resolution, and the screen may erase any lingering doubts you had about the larger size. It's great for watching movies and browsing the Web, with clear definition and vivid, accurate colors. And the Gorilla Glass coating is durable, scratch-resistant and easy to look at from a variety of angles, but it smudges up easily, so prepare to wipe the display off fairly regularly.
If you slide the display upwards, you reveal the full keyboard, which four rows and generously-sized buttons, although there's not much space between the keys, so you'll need to practice before you can type accurately. The hinge on the slider feels solid and leaves no wiggle room, so even if you're clumsy, the phone should stay in one piece.
The 5-megapixel camera isn't quite as impressive as the screen and keyboard, but the lens still does a commendable job, and it comes with a number of editing tools, like ISO and white balance controls, which make it easy to get a high-caliber shot. The LED flash keeps the camera functional even after night falls, and the auto-focus works quickly to zero in on subjects, though the images aren't as detailed in low light as we'd like. The 720p high-definition video capture is decent, but you can't share your videos easily with the Windows 7 software, and you have to put the clips onto your computer first, which is inconvenient.
Now, the main factor making or breaking your relationship to this phone is likely the Windows 7. No, it does not have the wide array of app options available from Android and Apple. If you're an app fanatic, it will leave you cold. That's not to say it's completely devoid of apps: it comes pre-loaded with a variety of T-Mobile services, and Internet fixtures like Facebook and Twitter developed Windows apps, so as far as social networking is concerned, you'll still be in the loop.
And the interface is easy to navigate, with a tile arrangement you can customize. Powered by a generous 1-gigahertz Snapdragon processor, the menus is zippy and fun to use, with lots of opportunities to swipe and pan through tiles.
T-Mobile carries the Venue Pro, but it's only available directly through Dell or at select Microsoft stores, so I suppose it lends the phone a kind of hard-to-find mystique -- but it can't be particularly good for sales.
Overall, if you want a big phone that uses Windows 7, you'll like the Venue Pro. But if you're not sold on the larger size or the OS, you'll want to check out a similarly-priced Android device. ♦
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