Performance: Display, Camera and Battery Life
Dell's Venue display is imposing. At 4.1", it's one of the larger screens on the smartphone market. There are a couple of phones out there with 4.3" panels, but this is definitely amongst the most sizable. We weren't too fond of the 800 x 480 screen resolution, particularly since the Atrix 4G and iPhone 4 both manage to cram more pixels on smaller screens. We'd prefer to have added pixel density in order to squeeze more of the web, and more of maps, etc. onto our panel.
However, the panel quality is excellent. The AMOLED display is just gorgeous to look at. Colors are stunning, and viewing angles are outstanding. It even performs well outdoors, taking direct sunlight to actually wash things out. If you're up for watching movies, this is the phone to do it on. Colors just seem to "pop," and beyond that, the capacitive screen is highly responsive. We never had any missed presses or swipes, and the screen felt as smooth as ever in use. A terrific overall display, but we can't help but long for a few extra pixels given the size.
The 8MP (with AutoFocus + flash) rear camera is decent. In our estimation, no cameraphone is truly great, but this one functioned quickly and quietly, and definitely captured the moment. Things could be made to look a little better using Photoshop afterwards, but these samples here are raw exports from the sensor. The macro mode worked fairly well, but took a bit of extra time to focus. If you're buying the Venue for its camera, that's probably not the smartest move. It's about average -- nothing to write home about, but enough to capture memories you'd otherwise miss without a "real" camera slung around your neck.
As for battery life, that's a tougher one to judge. To put things in perspective, the iPhone 4 has a 1420mAh battery, while the Venue falls just short of that with a 1400mAh pack. We tested battery life a couple of ways; we simply used the phone as we normally would -- talking a couple of hours, surfing a bit, and keeping Wi-Fi on at all times -- and we managed a full working day without issue. That's around 14 hours, if you're wondering. Lighter users can easily squeeze more. We also placed a video on loop with the screen brightness at 70%, and managed just over 3 hours, but again, this was with Wi-Fi enabled and new emails popping up every so often. To be on the safe side, we'd say the average user could expect between 10 and 16 hours, and if you're a heavy user, Dell's battery is replaceable; just carry a spare and you'll be good to go.