If you are on T-Mobile and you have decided that you are going the route of Windows Phone 7, then this article is for you. The one thing I am really starting to appreciate about Windows Phone is that the deciding factor becomes the form factor and the quality of components. Well, almost.
Speaking of Identical Software
OK, there are some manufactures trying to differentiate themselves with slightly different Windows Phone features and software and frankly if it gets any deeper than it is now, the consistency that makes Windows Phone great will come unraveled.
HTC is currently on my sh1t list <strike>adding</strike> cluttering the Marketplace with their own “HTC Apps” menu. These are Apps that HTC made that you can only download if you have an HTC phone. Many of them are useless or duplicates of already available apps, we don’t need a graphically fancier stock quote app that doesn’t fit with the Windows Phone UI.
There is a nice app called “Attentive Phone” which will lower the volume on the ringer if you pick it up or ring louder when it’s in your pocket or turn on the speaker phone when you lie it face down. Even though I can do without, it’s a useful app- but it should not be limited to HTC phones. It paints HTC in a bad light knowing they are holding such a feature hostage in their own walled off app store.
I strongly commend Dell for keeping the Venue Pro as a pure Windows Phone install and focusing on making the hardware awesome.
The HTC HD7 has a 4.3” LCD screen whereas the Dell Venue Pro has a 4.1” AMOLED. Comparing them side by side the AMOLED on the Dell VP really pops- more vivid colors, faster refresh rate, and deeper blacks. It’s pretty easy to see which is better side by side, but im not sure the difference really matter when you are using the same phone daily. The LCD screen still looks great on the HD7 and I’m not sure you would regret not going with an AMOLED screen. In other words, AMOLED would be my preference, but it wouldn’t be a make or break feature.
If you notice, the Dell has a bowed out screen, this gives it a really nice overall feel in your hand but I question the practicality of the design. I don’t like the idea that if I set my phone face down, it would rest on the center of the screen. It’s a hard glass composite that won’t scratch easily but if done enough times you could see some ware in the center of the screen. Not good. It also is a slight ergonomic issue in that when you reach across the screen your thumb doesn’t always touch the screen at the correct angle because of the convex bow. I’m nitpicking and its not a huge deal- it was a very slight sacrifice in usability for a better design and feel in your hand.
This is where it becomes a personal taste- it’s not possible to debate what is better since we all have different sized hands and different needs. So I will take you through my reasoning to help guide you around your decision.
Tactile Sliding Keyboard vs Touch Only
Personally I always find comfort in a tactile keyboard, but have become quite comfortable with the Windows Phone touch keyboard. The Dell VP’s slide out keyboard is a bit cramped but very usable. I find that I type about the same speed on the touch screen as I do the tactile keyboard, but there is a big advantage to having the tactile keyboard- you can see the entire screen when you type. Having the tactile keyboard allows you to see the entire messaging thread when you are composing a new one.
I am also finding that it is easier to reach the back button when you have the slider open. Sometimes I flip it open just so I can reach the back button without holding it precariously at the base of the phone.
The HTC HD7 is only a few millimeters wider, but it makes a really big difference in my hands. The HD7 is simply too big. Without a case I feel like the HD7 will slip out of my hands especially when holding at the bottom to press the touch buttons at the bottom. I almost never put cases on my devices, but I did so with the HD7 to give me a better grip on the phone. The extra 0.2” in screen size on the HD7 is more of a hindrance than an asset. The thicker size of the Venue Pro makes it more confortable to hold as well.
I have always love the build quality of HTC phones and that doesn’t change with the HD7. The main housing and skeleton of the phone is made of metal giving it a really solid feel. The kickstand on the HD7 is also robust and stays out of the way when you don’t need it. I would give the HD7 a perfect 10 on build quality except for one thing. The volume button rattles and makes a clinking sound.
The Venue Pro is also well build, feels solid, and just overall feels good in your hand. It is however a little more plastic feeling, not necessarily bad, just different. It’s akin to a Dell netbook with a really nice textured etching on the back and an embossed Dell logo.
I have been carrying the HTC Incredbile for quite some time now and its been the best camera on a phone I’ve ever used- the HD7 and the Dell Venue Pro both fail by comparison. The HD7 is better than the Venue Pro. Even though you can get comparable photos with the two something is really wacked with the white balance on the Venue Pro. Taking photos of a white receipt tuned out green for several shots before it took a correct white photo. It was nearly impossible to get a good low light indoor photo with the Dell Venue Pro as you can see from the comparison photos. HD7 doesn’t do that good indoors either but it’s not nearly as bad as the VP. The other nice thing about the HD7 is its dual LED flash which is blinding compared to the Venue Pro’s weak LED flash.
In short they both suck, but the HD7 sucks less. These are $500 phones! Put cameras that wok in them please.
This one is hard to judge after a few days. Both have made it through the day and preform like any other smartphone battery. You can blow though a battery on any smartphone with the “right” radios (GPS, Wi-Fi, ect) on. I don’t see the HT7 and Dell VP turning out any different. I’ll let you know if I find otherwise.
Sound quality is good and it will be good for the majority, but being tuned in to how things sound and sporting a $500 pair if Sure SE530s- there is certainly room for improvement on both devices. Both lack clarity in the mids and the highs on the Dell VP are not as bright as the HD7. Comparing them I would choose the HD7 over the Dell in terms of sound quality though it’s a slight improvement. Also to note, the HD7 has sound enhancements and a preset EQ if you are into that.
The built in speaker on the Venue Pro is fantastic and compares to the HTC Surround, not quite as loud but pretty darn close. It works great for podcasts and watching Netflix and music if you are ok with the lo-fi sound. This powerful speaker also comes in handy for talking on speakerphone- its loud enough to use in a moving car. The HD7 on the other hand is pretty weak on the volume. Not something you can use in a car but will be ok with the kick stand up watching Netflix on your desk in a quiet office/room.
I like the Dell Venue Pro better and this is mostly due to its form factor. I really dig the qwerty vertical slider, it allows you to see the entire screen while typing and it just feels better in my hand. For me the HD7 is simply too big to hold. I really like the powerful speaker on the Dell Venue Pro but am pretty disappointed with the camera’s performance, though it’s not much better than the HD7. For you to make the decision it it’s about the form factor and you like the idea of a vertical slider- I can tell you that it works really well.