There was a time when manufacturers still pushed the boundaries of industrial design, when Windows Phone was the newest smartphone platform around, and Dell still called itself a smartphone maker. These were the days of WVGA displays being sold as “high resolution,” of 3G masquerading as 4G, of 5-megapixel primary cameras and QWERTY keyboards with individual spring-loaded plastic keys.
Into this bubbling cauldron of freakish fun came the Dell Venue Pro, a name which may strike you as oddly familiar. Dell recycled the brand last year for its line of Windows tablets, but its 2011 manifestation was far more compelling: a portrait-sliding QWERTY smartphone running Windows Phone 7 on some of the most futuristic, aggressively modern hardware seen before or since. Dell’s Venue Pro was arguably the most impressive device of the entire Windows Phone launch lineup, a defiant statement that the beleaguered company was back and ready to smash the smartphone market the way it had with personal computers a decade earlier.
Of course, things didn’t really turn out that way. Thanks to a boatload of hardware issues, availability problems, and straight-up ineptitude when it came to order fulfillment, Dell’s new smartphone wasn’t nearly the blockbuster it could (or should) have been. Even though most of the device’s problems were eventually ironed out, the rocky launch and slow consumer acceptance of Windows Phone had taken their toll, and Dell exited the smartphone business entirely in late 2012.
But looking at a Dell Venue Pro review specimen today –in this case, Adam Lein’s excellently preserved demo device– it’s easy to see how this monster so easily and completely captivated the Windows Phone audience. Join us as we take a look back at a rare specimen from mobile phone history: an uncommon form factor in a beautiful package from a brand trying to make a comeback, on a fresh new platform from a company seeking its own redemption song.
Oh, and the whole thing starts off with a variation on a poem we ripped off from a Jimmy Buffett song. So … you know. Click.
Dell Venue Pro Review (Throwback)
Dying for more wistful looks at our beautiful smartphone past? Check out our Throwback reviews of the HTC HD2 and Motorola Q, then strap in for a quick rundown of Android’s glorious Nexus legacy going back to 2010!