Review: BlackBerry Tour 9630 (Sprint)

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Short Version: Unless you’re shopping specifically for the Palm Pre, this is the smartphone to buy for Sprint customers. The weight is right, the speed is right, the OS is at the perfect point in its evolution.

Review:

I have no issues with recommending this phone to anyone. It’s the perfect fusion of everything that makes a BlackBerry device what it is. The screen is extremely sharp, the camera does well in almost every situation, and despite what Peter said, the keyboard is perfect. Yes, Peter is wrong, I found absolutely no problems with the keyboard on the Tour.

Voice quality is significantly improved over the other BlackBerry devices I’ve used or tested, and calls are clear and sharp, with minimal background noise. Of course, this is to be expected from Sprint’s network, and during the testing period, I experienced no dropped calls. They’ve even added a “lock” button on the top of the phone. This is something that I always look for, and usually end up reprogramming one of the other buttons on the phone (typically the camera) to do this very function. Good idea, RIM!
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This phone also supports overseas networks, so you will be just fine leaving the country with it. Again, watch those data overages that companies love to gouge you for, especially if you leave the US.

The software package that comes with the phone is acceptable, and if you are a sports fan, Sprint also includes the option to install their MLB Premium, NFL Mobile, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile software. The phone also has Sprint TV installed, and it streams quite nicely. While waiting for my wife at the doctor’s office, I was able to sit and watch a full episode of one of my favorite shows with no problems.

The web browser is still junk, no question there. A commenter on Peter’s review recommended installing an alternative browser, however I didn’t get a chance to do this. It might be an option if you absolutely hate the default one, but for my purposes it did fine. Just keep in mind that it’s a mobile browser, through and through. You won’t come close to replicating the desktop browsing experience like you would on, say, the iPhone or Android.

If there is one thing I didn’t like about the Tour, it’s the lack of a Wi-Fi antenna. I don’t understand why this is not a standard feature on more phones? It makes perfect sense to me to have it so you can use your Wi-Fi connection when you are at home, instead of running up your data bill. Or maybe that is the point.

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Conclusion

Despite the lack of a Wi-Fi option and the so-so web browser, the BlackBerry Tour is a great phone. If you want a BlackBerry OS smartphone, this is the best you can buy. The Tour is currently available to Sprint subscribers for $199.99

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