Of course, we haven't forgotten about one of the most important aspects of a phone: audio quality. We have no complaints about the earpiece's performance, and noise suppression isn't bad even in a noisy environment -- it takes just one or two seconds to adjust to your voice. The loudspeaker, on the other hand, gently muddles phone calls from the other end of the line, and distortion is already apparent when playing music at around 70 percent volume (and this is only Diana Krall, not heavy metal). Even the Venue's headphone mode isn't perfect -- we get a small amount of static noise when our earphones are plugged in; whereas our other phones produce a much cleaner audio through the same buds. Audiophiles need not apply here.Update:
Five days after our review was published, we noticed that something's wrong with our Venue's GPS performance -- sometimes 3G data connection just dies when we attempt to use Foursquare or Google Maps, thus forcing us to manually re-enable the connection in settings. We thought it was a one-off when we first spotted this before we posted this article, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Hopefully this is an isolated case.
If you've already taken a gander at our Streak 2.2 update
review, then you've pretty much seen this all before. Straight out of the box you get the full-screen Stage UI widgets (for music, Twitter, Facebook, recent apps, contacts, and mail), quick scrolling between homescreens in the area below the widgets, a backup and restore app (for SMS, ringtones, bookmarks, apps, etc.), a sync utility to go with its Windows desktop suite (for multimedia and Outlook management; installer preloaded on the 16GB microSD card), Quickoffice suite, TuneIn Radio app (no FM radio, though), and Swype
keyboard. The usual every-day apps like Music, Gallery, and Camera are of the stock flavor, and obviously you get Flash and live wallpaper support to boot. All is good here, except for the backup and restore utility: it doesn't really work. Well, it managed to restore once, but then it failed to revive the apps from the same backup after our second and third factory resets, despite the confirmation messages that said otherwise. Until Dell and Nero fix this bug, our advice is to just make a new backup after each restoration.
Even though superficially the Venue's OS is identical to the one on the Streak, we noticed that the former has no landscape mode for the homescreens. Ironically, this is quite the opposite of the portrait-less problem we had on the Streak before 2.2. But on the bright side, the overall UI has been pretty smooth for us, and perhaps that's why Dell's decided to disable homescreen rotation -- we did notice that there was a two to three-second delay between rotation on the Streak. As for benchmark performance, we got about 33 FLOPS on Linpack, 30fps on Neocore, and a humble score between 801 and 827 on Quadrant which is just behind the Galaxy S. Nothing outstanding, but nothing bad, either.