O2 – Xda Venn review

dual slider Windows Mobile smartphone
Photo of O2 – Xda Venn
£free, depending on contract

O2′s Xda range of Windows Mobile smartphones has something for just about everyone on the design front, but O2 still manages to come up with a new twist from time to time. The Venn is a case in point. It is a ‘dual slider’, which is to say that it sports both a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a slide down number pad.

Inevitably, with two slides to build in, the Venn is a sizeable handset. In height and width terms it isn’t too bad (108 x 51mm), but it feels quite chubby at 21.6mm. It is relatively heavy too, at 151g.

The Venn bucks the common trend for touchscreens, as it doesn’t have one. It runs a version of Windows Mobile that seems to be quietly going away: the Standard, non-touch-supporting version. It also runs the previous generation of Windows Mobile, version 6.1, rather than the newer version 6.5.

As a smartphone the Venn is hampered by its lack of Wi-Fi, though it does have GPS built in. It isn’t likely to be able to vie for your attention if you really need all the latest gizmos. But it does its job of catering for text-based input very well thanks to that QWERTY keyboard.

The keyboard is nicely designed with relatively big keys. We were able to get to about 80 percent of our top typing speed on smartphones, though the absence of a dedicated number row may irritate some, and slightly truncated keys at the bottom left and right edges – necessitated by the rounded edges of the chassis – may annoy some people too.

The screen of the Venn is quite small at 2.4 diagonal inches, but it is clear and sharp, and if your data needs don’t extend to fancy web page viewing or video playback it should be fine to work with. The Venn is a 3G device supporting HSDPA to 3.6Mbps, so when you do need a fast connection, such as for downloading email, if there is coverage where you are the handset should cope.

There is no front camera for two-way video calling, and the main camera shoots at just 2-megapixels, placing it at the bottom of the pile in terms of this particular specification.

In fact the Xda Venn’s internal specifications are, to be frank, a bit disappointing, both in themselves and when viewed in the light of the innovative hardware design.

Company: O2

Contact: 08442 020202

If you want a hardware keyboard and a small format device, and don't mind decidedly average specifications, then the Venn might suit. But this is not a smartphone for those who want ‘all mod cons'.