Dell Venue Pro review:

Dell Venue Pro

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Typical Price: £350.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Choice of physical and touchscreen keyboards; Sturdy design; Easy to use.

The Bad It's too big; Windows Phone is quick but needs to improve; Photos and video could be better; Limited storage.

The Bottom Line Robust build quality and a unique portrait-sliding keyboard give the Dell Venue Pro an edge over its samey Windows Phone competitors, but its pocket-punishing size could prove problematic for some people.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.5 Overall

Dell's first foray out to the bold frontier of Windows Phone is quite a discovery, thanks to its astonishing size, and a distinctive sliding keyboard that lets you type in portrait mode. The Venue Pro is held back from greatness, however, by a lack of expandable storage, poor video capture and average battery life.

The Venue Pro is available for around £20 on a monthly contract, with SIM-free prices starting at about £450.

Heavy stuff

There's no getting away from it -- the Venue Pro is one seriously chunky customer. With an overall weight of 193g, it's easily one of the heaviest phones we've witnessed in recent memory, and its striking dimensions ensure a beefy bulge in your pocket.

Weight is often an indication of solid build quality, however, and that is most certainly the case here. Dell is famous for its robust personal computers and laptops, and the same design ethos has been carried over here. The Venue Pro feels sturdy and dependable.

The Venue Pro's AMOLED screen is a real beauty, putting its LCD-based rivals to shame.

Another plus point to the phone's design is the vibrant AMOLED screen, which dominates the front of the handset thanks to its 4.1-inch size. Although it's not quite as bright as the Super AMOLED variant showcased by the Google Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy S II, it's still impressive.

Self portrait

The most striking aspect of the Venue Pro's design is its slide-out keyboard, which (unlike Windows Phone rival the HTC 7 Pro) is used in portrait mode, that is, it slides down from beneath the screen rather than sideways. Ironically, the physical keys aren't entirely necessarily -- we actually found it quicker to use Windows Phone 7's excellent touchscreen keyboard instead.

Another problem is that when the keyboard is exposed, the Venue Pro's already intimidating height balloons to a staggering six and a half inches, making it awkward to hold with one hand. Still, we're sure BlackBerry veterans and other people doing serious business will appreciate the presence of physical buttons.

The unusual portrait-sliding keyboard is welcome, but may not be to everyone's tastes.

Like many of its Windows Phone brethren, the Venue Pro comes equipped with a 1GHz processor and 512MB of memory. This combination ensures performance is nippy and responsive, with no describable lag between operations. Much of this speed is due to Windows Phone 7 being such a streamlined operating system, but if you're used to Android's often inconsistent performance, using the Venue Pro could be a pleasant surprise.

Windows to the soul

The Windows Phone 7 OS hasn't changed much since we first saw it on the HTC HD7. In fact, we're rather disappointed Microsoft isn't forging ahead with new features. Multi-tasking is still missing, and although navigating the menu system is a breeze, things become sticky once you've downloaded a lot of applications. The layout needs work.

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