Dell Addresses Wi-Fi Problems and More with the Venue Pro

Dell’s new Venue Pro smartphone that is powered by Windows Phone 7 has quite a lot of problems. Besides the microSD scandal plaguing many WP7 handsets (most have hidden microSD card slots providing their internal storage instead of faster flash NAND storage), the inability to connect to protected Wi-Fi networks and rumored supply shortages delaying some getting their Venue Pros until January, new information from Dell shows that they sold quite a number of Venue Pros with batteries stamped “Engineering Samples.” Talk about a smartphone launch from hell.

I have already gone over the microSD dilemma, the Wi-Fi problems and the supply shortages. (Check the appropriate links above). But the mislabeled battery problems are new to me (thank you Dell for posting this on your website) and Dell has finally released an announcement regarding the Wi-Fi problems in the Venue Pro. According to Dell:

“We have confirmed that the Wi-Fi connectivity issue… resulted from a software glitch during Dell’s manufacturing process. The issue affected some of our initial phone shipments and was not a hardware issue or a Windows Phone 7 one. Customers who purchased Venue Pro smartphones on Monday or Tuesday (November 8 or 9) at a Microsoft Store and who are experiencing the protected Wi-Fi network connectivity issue also have the option of bringing your phone back to the Microsoft Store for an exchange, beginning at the end of next week.”

Nice. But who was to blame? Dell or Microsoft? If you have to change in your Venue Pro for a working one, something makes me wonder if this was really a hardware glitch in the model which is causing supply problems in Europe now.

As for the mislabeled batteries, Dell says that they are really full production batteries that got the wrong stamp. However, the company says you can simply bring your Venue Pro with a “Engineering Samples” battery to your local Microsoft retail store for a replacement. Um… if they work fine then why is Dell doing this? Questions, questions and more questions.

It is unfortunate that one of the most anticipated WP7 devices to launch is having so many problems. You would think that Dell, with all of its knowledge building computers, tablets, laptops and phones would have not let things get this far out of hand. Right now, I would avoid the Venue Pro for a few weeks until the dust settles. You don’t want to get stuck with a Venue Pro with a messed up battery that cannot connect to Wi-Fi networks now do you?

The Venue Pro is still one of my favorite WP7 devices to launch, but these problems are making me take a hard look at the phone. If Dell can get these problems fixed quickly, things will be fine. If they don’t…well, return yours and get another WP7 smartphone. Or return your Venue Pro to the store and hope that you get a model without the battery problems and Wi-Fi bug.

Let me know what you think of all of this nonsense. I thought Antennagate was bad for Apple. This is turning into a literal fiasco for Dell, which made the move to switch thousands of its employees from BlackBerrys to Dell Venue Pros. I bet RIM is laughing its butt off right now. At least an Android powered Venue Pro will be coming in the future…

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