Dell Venue Pro Has Issues with Batteries, WiFi, Dell Acknowledges

Dell Venue Pro smartphones experiencing WiFi issues, or shipping with batteries marked "Engineering Samples," can be returned beginning next week, Dell says.

Dell Venue Pro owners experiencing issues with their new smartphones can exchange them for new ones, according to Dell's Lionel Menchaca.

Some Venue Pro units were shipped with batteries labeled "Engineering Samples." However, Menchaca blogged Nov. 11, the goof-up was in the labeling, not with the actual batteries.

"After investigating, we concluded [that] the batteries shipped and sold at Microsoft retail stores are indeed production quality-they were simply mislabeled at the factory," wrote Menchaca, adding that Dell has "addressed and corrected the oversight" and is working with its partners at Microsoft to make sure customers are "100 percent satisfied" with their smartphones.

Also an issue: Some Venue Pro models are unable to connect to protected WiFi networks. According to Menchaca, this one's the result of a "software glitch" during the manufacturing process.

"The issue affected some of our initial phone shipments and was not a hardware issue or a Windows Phone 7 one," he wrote. Anyone who purchased a Venue Pro on Nov. 8 or 9 at a Microsoft store and is experiencing WiFi problems can bring back the phone for an exchange at "the end of next week,"-so, say, Nov. 18-ish. Same goes for those with the improperly labeled batteries.

To view images of the Dell Venue Pro, and other Windows Phone 7 handsets, click here.

The Dell Venue Pro runs Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system and features a 4.1-inch capacitive touch screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The display, as on the Apple iPhone, is made of Gorilla Glass, to resist scratches. It also features a 1GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, a 5-megapixel camera, 8GB of internal storage, 512MB of RAM, a browser with full Adobe Flash support, and GPS and (ideally) WiFi b/g/n connectivity.

Earlier this month, Dell confirmed that it plans to transition its employees from RIM BlackBerry smartphones to its own smartphones-likely including the Venue Pro-and to offer a service helping other businesses to do the same. A newcomer to the smartphone space, the move would have Dell aggressively moving into the enterprise space, where RIM has long reigned.

"Clearly, in this decision we are competing with RIM," Dell CFO Brian Gladden told the Wall Street Journal, "because we're kicking them out."

RIM scoffed at the suggestion and the general announcement, with Mark Guibert, RIM's senior vice president of corporate marketing, telling eWEEK in a statement, "We find it highly unlikely that they will actually save any money with this move, and far more likely they were looking for a little free publicity."

While having Microsoft on its side will help Dell, according to Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies, the fact that Windows Phone 7 straddles the fence-looking to appeal to both consumers and business users-is somewhat to its detriment.

When it comes to security, a top enterprise concern, "RIM has the high ground there," said Kay.

The Dell Venue Pro will be offered by T-Mobile, although for now the carrier offers no details on its site. However, early "reviews" are beginning to populate Twitter. User Nabiscuit writes that it's "the most solid and has the highest build quality" of any Windows Phone 7 device, though in a following tweet, the user adds, "I love my [Dell Venue Pro], but it's not perfect. Hot battery, weird HP jack & crap camera."

Twitter user Jamesloveiii, while writing in one tweet that the Venue Pro's speakers are "by far the best I've heard on a phone ever," in a second tweet the user added to its seeming list of glitches:

"Connecting USB to charge Dell Venue Pro sumtimz cause [sic] power off!" he tweeted. "Dell says these eng. samples are [final hardware] and WiFi is [software/firmware] glitch. Anyone else?"