At a glance, you may assume that the Venue is similar to the Venue Pro, the latter of which has a slide-out keyboard. But the Venue "non-Pro" is a slimmer phone, although it is still pretty sizable. The 4.1" display is very spacious, but it relies on the same screen resolution as the smaller Nexus One. Honestly, we wish Dell would've cranked up the resolution a bit given that we're being asked to carry such a large phone.
The chrome edges contrast nicely with the glossy black front and matte black, textured rear casing, but one of the things we noticed right away was just how slippery the handset is. The entire front and both sides are glossy, which means the phone slips easily from your grip. We'd recommend a case for any phone for protection, but in the case of the Venue, also for handling reasons. At 5.8 ounces, this phone is over an ounce heavier than the Galaxy S 4G, and it's one of the weightier phones we've held. The upside is that the device is extremely solid and rigid, but there's no question that it doesn't fall into the "lightweight" category.
The front of the device is primarily covered with a 4.1" AMOLED display, with three touch-sensitive buttons along the bottom (back, menu, home). The right edge contains a dedicated camera shutter button as well as volume up/down rockers, while the left side just has a volume/mute toggle switch. Along the top edge, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack and a power button (which is way too small). The bottom is home to two speakers and a microUSB port.
The back cover easily slides off, unveiling the 1400mAh battery, SIM card slot and microSD slot. The good news here is that you can access the microSD card without first removing the battery, and there's an 8MP (with flash!) camera front-and-center along the top. The front of the phone is remarkably glossy, so get ready for a fingerprint battle (one you'll probably lose). The touch-sensitive buttons are far more responsive than those on the Nexus One, but we weren't fans of the tiny power/screen unlock button and the slippery rocker switches along the edges.
There's no question that the phone feels very sturdy; whereas the Aero felt a bit flimsy, Dell really stepped it up with the quality on the Venue. It's certainly a business-ready phone, and you can tell it's a serious piece of hardware just as soon as you touch it. Sure, it's a little on the heavy side, but we'll take heavier if it equates to better rigidity.