You all know that I am a major Windows Phone 7 fan and you may know that I haven't been very kind to Dell and their Venue Pro device. I read several reports and heard directly from readers that the device has some pretty major hardware issues. I also read a lot in the forums that is leading me to believe the Venue Pro issues may be more related to the microSD card in the device rather than the WiFi radio. In order to test out my theory a bit and get another piece of Windows Phone 7 hardware that runs on T-Mobile I just purchased my own Dell Venue Pro and quickly turned it into a 32GB model.
Reports of resets, lockups, and microSD cardsThe support forums and people who make comments online are the vocal group that is having problems while those who are happy with the device generally don't chime in that often. I searched through the Dell forums, comments in various reviews (such as the one at Pocketnow), and everywhere else I could find in my search results to see what people were experiencing. It sounded like there were wireless radio connectivity issues, WiFi issues, Marketplace freezes, and other random lockups and resets. It also seemed like the majority of people having issues were those with the 16GB model while most 8GB model owners were not having issues.
Dell has been replacing Venue Pros for people that complain, but it sounds like the same type of devices are being shipped back out. Some of these connectivity issues may be fixed with the upcoming WP7 update that might include some Dell fixes too. I am not convinced it is a WiFi issue or hardware issue and am suspicious of the microSD cards. The 8GB and 16GB memory in the Dell Venue Pro is simply a microSD card so if Dell happened to have installed a batch of problematic 16GB microSD cards then all of those device could have issues since the microSD card in Windows Phone 7 is critical to the operation of the device.
How did I turn my 8GB Dell Venue Pro into a 16GB Venue Pro?Since I suspect that some of these issues may be related to the microSD card I decided to put my money where my mouth is and paid $450 for the 8GB model. I know that if you mess around with the microSD card then your warranty is void, but I have yet to use my warranty on a phone and I have had hundreds of them so I was willing to take the risk. Please be aware that what I write below is not to be taken as something you should do and I assume no liability if you end up breaking your device.
After my Dell Venue Pro arrived, I pulled out a Sandisk Class 2 32GB microSD card that I had in my Nokia N8 and wiped it clean. You can find that card I used on this Amazon page. I then followed these steps below to install the 32GB card in my device. I found these directions from DeekoVB5 over on XDA Developers.
- Open Settings-> About menu in phone
- Tap on "reset"
- Tap "yes" twice. The phone will start to reboot.
- Wait until the phone shuts down and begins to reboot, and take the battery out. NOTE: If you take out the battery too early, it will not work correctly. I waited until I first saw the Dell logo pop up and then pulled the battery, and that worked.
- Remove the old SD card (I used a very small eyeglass screwdriver to gently pry it out since it isn't spring loaded)
- Put in new card, replace battery, restart phone
- Go through the setup process
To find the microSD card you look up from where the SIM card goes (under the battery) and you will see a small piece of black tape. When you take that off (it is stamped with VOID) you will see the microSD card. I then followed the directions and used a small eyeglass screwdriver to flip out the card so I could put in my own 32GB card.
I have now been using my Dell Venue Pro with 32GB microSD card for about five hours and it has been performing like a champ. At one time I had 20 applications from the Marketplace downloading and installing and NEVER had the Marketplace lock up. I have been using it via WiFi and T-Mobile 3G without issue and all I can say is "Why did I wait so long?"
Do I like the Dell Venue Pro now?It is still early in my usage, but the display is awesome (as you can see in my video above), the keyboard is actually very useful, and having 32GB on a Windows Phone 7 device may just keep me happy for quite some time. I do miss the kickstand from the HTC HD7, but the Dell Venue Pro hardware is much better quality with solid buttons, stylish back, and much better stereo speakers.
I didn't think the keyboard would be anything special, but it is actually quite well designed and you can even access all of the alternate keys simply by pressing and holding them down. There is are primary characters/buttons for a period, comma, and .com entry and you can even find an emoticon button. When you slide up the display to use the keyboard the one on the display is minimized so you get more viewable screen area when you use the hardware keyboard.
I look forward to spending many more hours with the Dell Venue Pro and will try to get my full review of it up by the end of next week. It is mine now as I have voided the warranty by swapping the microSD card, but if it continues to perform like this then my HD7 may be on the chopping block soon.