The o2 XDA Venn actually appeared a couple of years ago in the USA as
the Pantech Duo. It’s an interesting idea – there’s no touch screen but
there are two keyboards – a sliding QWERTY out the side and a numeric
keypad down the bottom.
Despite what some sites (and shops) say this doesn’t have WiFi but
there is a 2 megapixel shooter round the back, Bluetooth 2.0, GSM Quad
band connectivity and dual-band 3G connectivity. Powered by Windows
Mobile 6.1 Standard (that’s the non-touch variant) it’s got a 240×320
pixel screen and a Qualcomm MSM7201A CPU powering the phone.
We tend to start with a video, so here’s our unboxing ..
connector), sync cable, charger (with appropriate electrical plug),
manuals and CD – oh, and the phone itself of course 🙂
A tour around the device starts on the front. The earpiece is just
above the o2 logo and allows for great audio quality – nice and clear
in our tests. There’s no LED’s on this handset at all, so you don’t get
any network activity flashes.
Below the screen is the main control section. The main circular section
doesn’t actually spin round (despite it’s appearance) and it’ll let you
move around your phone. The central button selects whatever you’ve
chosen. On the left and right there’s the soft-keys (at the top) –
these will select whatever is on the bottom of the screen.
The two smaller silver buttons have different functions. The button on
the left is the home key – this will take you back to the main screen
no matter where you are, whilst the button on the right will take you
back to whatever you were just looking at.
Down at the bottom are the call answer / drop keys – that “call drop”
key also acts as your power button. Press and hold to turn on or turn
off. At first this bottom section can feel a little crowded and it does
take a little getting used to, especially if you’ve previously used a
touch-screen device, however it’s well worth a little learning – the
control system actually works quite well after a few minutes of getting
used to it.
On the left we’ve got the volume control up on the top left. Usual
stuff here – tap up to increase, down to decrease. Pressing and holding
doesn’t do anything extra. Below there’s a “REC” button. Tap it once
and you actually dive into the “Quick List”. This will let you switch
profiles quickly and drop into the Wireless Manager – switch the
Bluetooth on / off or disable the radio equipment within the phone. You
can also lock the phone here too, but if you don’t touch the phone for
a few seconds it’ll lock itself anyway – nice touch. Oh, and by the
way, it’s easy enough to unlock – just whack the appropriate soft-key.
There’s no unlock sequence here and it’s kinda liberating. Better yet,
if you just whack the “Camera” button it’ll shock the unlock screen (if
the phone is in a locked state) with a one-click option to access the
Press and hold that “REC” button and you get into the Voice Commander
app. This’ll let you talk to your phone and call people – simply say,
“Find Bob at Home” to get Bob’s home phone number. Say “Digit Dial” and
follow it with a number to call, or start an application by saying,
“Start Calendar”. There’s stacks more like, “Play Music”, “What Time Is
It” and more. It’s something I never think about using but the Voice
Commander app is a true short-cut into your daily tasks.
Down the bottom edge is the microSD slot for your extra storage – extra
files can be added here and you can use it for music, pictures and
videos captured by your phone.
On the right there’s the camera button for accessing your onboard cam.
It’s quite a good shooter and the resulting images are pretty decent,
even in low light. I was actually quite impressed by it. Below you can
see some example shots. There’s a range of resolutions (we whacked it
up to the highest – 1200×1600), timers, daylight settings and a whole
The camera is at the back and sites next to the external
Example camera shots….
Above the camera button is a flap which, when removed, allows access to
the charge port / USB connector. This will let you sync all the contact
/ appointment info from your machine onto the phone. The connector
isn’t one we’re used to, and we doubt that the flap will last long
given the amount of brute-force we needed to pull it back enough to
Numeric keypad open…
OK, those keyboards. First the numeric one. It’s the lower of the two
keyboards and has a shiny, clear black surface. There’s no ridges or
splits between the keys. It takes a definite push to activate each key
and each one is back-lit with a white / blue hue. It works well and,
for me, I love having a physical numeric keypad.
On the side the QWERTY keyboard slides out by about 50% of the width.
It should be noted here that you can’t slide out both keyboards at the
same time, so it feels really solid. There’s no tilting screen and the
phone doesn’t allow the keyboards to rotate or anything fancy like that
(some imagery seems to suggest this).
The QWERTY keyboard is definitely a different beast to the numeric
keypad. There’s three rows of well-spaced keys and the numeric section
is highlighted with white / silver sections. This section is
intelligent enough to know if it needs to be “used” – i.e. if you’re in
a dial-screen it’ll automatically select these keys ahead of the QWERTY
letters. I like little bits of intelligence like this – it shows that
the makers / manufacturers have cared enough to fix the little
irritating things that might have you cursing at a phone.
The QWERTY is, I must admit, pretty fantastic to use. Tapping out texts
or chatting via Windows Messenger is a dream. You can even use the
on-board Office apps (like Word, Excel and so on) to edit documents on
the move. Whilst Windows Mobile Standard edition stop you from creating
new files with Office it will at least let you edit existing ones, so
just copy a blank file onto your microSD storage card and you’re away.
Both keyboards are spring-loaded and slot back and forth with very
little force. The QWERTY one also has the soft-key buttons at either
end of the top row along with the back key. There’s also a range of
symbols which are accessible by press the “FN” key. I noticed a dollar
sign here, but no pound sign here – I’m guessing there’s still more
than a flavour of the US heritage on this device. You can access a
pound-sign in the on-screen keyboard though. The keys are easy to press
and easy to locate, standing proud of the main QWERTY panel.
The Operating System is Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard. “Standard”
basically means that there’s no touch screen and, unfortunately,
there’s not much love for the non-touch interface. Apps are out there
but they’re a little hard to find, although in Windows Mobile 6.5 an
app-store is available to allow the download of new programs. Whether
6.5 becomes available for the Venn remains to be seen, but there’s hope
The sliding panels interface is slick and gives you speedy access into
the regular functions you’ll be using on a daily basis. A brief play
around with the controls makes me miss the direct control access that
“classic Smartphones” of old always had. The first section here will,
with a single click, let you check the time and change the alarm –
there’s two alarms that you can setup and a variety of sounds or
The next one down is very useful and shows your missed calls,
voicemails, text messages and emails. It’s easy to begin setting up
mail from here too.
The appointments tab shows your calendar dates, meetings and other
important dates. You can add birthdays, anniversaries and other stuff
too, plus you can be reminded when something is approaching that you
should be aware of. You can also set your phone to go quiet when you’re
ina meeting by tapping that “Rec” button and choosing “Automatic”.
The profile switcher is on the next tab / panel too. There’s a wireless
manager which will let you turn your Bluetooth on / off and turn the
phone into “flight mode” too. Flick right or left to choose between the
options. There’s a ringtone and background changer plus a task manager
to keep an eye on what your phone is up to.
Once you press the left soft-key from the main home screen you’ll end
up in the full “Programs” listing. This features the Office suite
(where you can edit but not create documents due to the restriction of
WinMo “Standard”), Internet Explorer, Remote Desktop (which is kinda
hampered by the lack of WiFi), Pictures and Videos (for viewing the
shots on your camera), Explorer (for looking at the files on your
phone, renaming them and moving them around) and Windows Media for
viewing your videos and listening to music.
Messenger was present. It’s good to see this make it onto a phone like
this and, when combined with the slide-out QWERTY and o2’s excellent
data plans, it’s a great way to keep in touch. Likewise the slide-out
keyboard really helped in the Internet Explorer address bar and when
sending emails, although the slightly small and lower-res screen did
make reading large emails a bit iffy.
The phone performed well throughout our testing and I was really
impressed with how nippy it was when navigating.
This is still an excellent phone, even two years after it initially
appeared in the USA. It’s a good idea too – I love the dual keyboard
idea and, for some, the “real physical touch” of a numeric pad or
QWERTY keyboard will always surpass an on-screen one. I was quite at
home texting and chatting with Messenger on this handset and, in that
respect it’s brilliant. The only sad thing is that the world has moved
on somewhat. People are now Tweeting and using Facebook more regularly
and I would’ve loved to have seen a cool Twitter app live on the device
or something similar.
megapixel but performs well. The build-quality is good too and the
speediness of the phone itself – brilliant. Everything fits together
well but I’d love to see a more up-to-date OS on-board along with WiFi
or perhaps a higher resolution screen.
Link – o2.co.uk