Lightning strikes! Or, you know, when Venue Pro strikes. So, it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but no matter what you call Dell's Windows Phone 7 portrait slider, it's downright awesome. We got a chance to play around with an early build of the phone a few weeks ago -- as you'll hear us say in the video below, it was still codenamed the Lightning -- and we haven't been able to get it out of our minds since. The handset has a very similar look and feel to its Android brother, the Thunder -- its rounded chrome sides are reminiscent of an iPhone 3G/S, the black contoured back has a nice grippy feel, and the curved, WVGA AMOLED, Gorilla Glass screen is just stunning. The 4.1-inch capacitive, multitouch display is joined by additional back, home and search touch-sensitive buttons, all of which seemed responsive in our short time with the device. The back is also home to a 5 megapixel cam with flash while there's a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the device and a micro-USB port on the bottom edge.
But obviously, it's that glorious slide-out QWERTY keyboard that makes the Venue Pro, well, so pro. The rubber-feeling keys remind us a lot of those on the Droid 2 -- though, they feel a bit firmer -- and the slider mechanism felt sturdy when we slid it open and closed a number of times. On the spec front, we were told it was packing a Snapdragon processor, and while the phone seemed to briskly run an early build of WP7, we didn't get to test much out as Dell was lacking both a SIM and a nearby WiFi network. We'll be hoping to grab some more time with the T-Mobile version today, but from what we've seen so far we're fairly confident that Dell's struck pretty darn close to gold here. Oh, and don't forget to hit the break for a short video walkthrough of the hardware and keyboard.