The Dell Venue Pro is a very capable Windows Phone given a productivity boost with a Qwerty keyboard. Office and email applications offer powerful ways to be productive on the move.
Excellent display, good operating system, wide email support, Qwerty keyboard, Office support
Large and heavy, poor battery life, average camera
£ 366 + VAT for 16GB model
1GHz processor, 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, 4.1in Amoled display, capacative touch screen, UMTS 900/1700/2100, GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 7.2Mbit/s/HSUPA 5.76Mbit/s, 5-megapixel camera with auto focus, 1,400mAh battery, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, 802.11g, USB 2.0, 192.78g, 63.5mm x 122mm x 15.25mm
The Venue Pro is Dell's first proper smartphone and offers a Qwerty keyboard, 4.1in capacitive touch screen and the Windows Phone 7 operating system. Support for Office and multiple email systems will make it attractive for people looking for a business smartphone with good interaction with Microsoft's popular business tools.
When you first see and hold the Venue Pro, you might feel a range of emotions. The large screen is impressive and the Qwerty keyboard, while small, is likely to be more suited to writing long emails than a touch screen.
On the downside, the phone is quite chunky, doesn't feel well balanced when the slider is extended and is one of the heaviest smartphones we've used at 193g. Compare this to a BlackBerry Bold 9780 at 122g or a Samsung Galaxy S at 119g and you can see how much more weighty the Dell actually is.
In terms of physical size, it's actually surprising how compact the Venue Pro is. It's certainly deeper than most phones (because of the keyboard), but its other dimensions compare well with the Samsung Galaxy S. Indeed, in width and height it's actually very slightly smaller than the Galaxy S, even though its screen is a little larger at 4.1in.
For email, messaging, phone calls and web browsing the 1GHz processor is more than powerful enough. There are some apps that seem to tax the handset more and this can result in a less than smooth scrolling experience. The Twitter app Seesmic was an example of one program that seemed to cause a lot of problems on the Dell. That said, this doesn't affect any of the pre-loaded software and we were consistently impressed by how this phone performs.
A choice of 8GB or 16GB storage options are available on the Venue Pro. For normal phone use, 8GB is fine. If you want to listen to music, podcasts or watch video then you may want to go for the larger capacity.
Compared to the email clients that come with the iPhone and most Android handsets, the application on Windows Phone is really a breath of fresh air. Visually, it's very different and perhaps a little more flashy than it needs to be. But functionally, and as a tool to increase your productivity away from the office, it's a very nice system.
For one thing, the text is large and easy to read while the large screen means you still get plenty on the screen. Swiping left or right will also take you through different categories of mail, starting with all and moving through unread and urgent messages.
Moving and sorting email is also easy too, simply select either a single, or multiple messages and press the folder icon to file them.
You can connect to Exchange, as you would expect for a Microsoft product, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail (or Windows Live as it's more generally known) out of the box. It's also possible to add any email service that uses the POP3 or IMAP protocols, although this requires manual configuration.
Unlike Android, all email accounts are handled by the same app, where Google's OS forces you to handle Gmail and other email accounts in a seperate, less capable, application. The only thing we would like to see is a unified inbox for mail, something the HP Palm Pre does very well indeed.