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BlackBerry Tour: A Winner for Verizon Wireless
Being a loyal Verizon Wireless customer for the past decade, I have grown accustomed to disappointment due to the simple fact that most companies build their phones to work with the more widely implemented GSM networks such as AT&T with its exclusive deal for the Apple iPhone. However, I have grown to love the BlackBerry platform and have been using the Curve 8330 for about a year. When I heard about the new BlackBerry Tour release, I was skeptical, simply because the Curve had, in my opinion, everything you could want from a smartphone. It was easy to navigate, was large enough to have a full QWERTY keyboard, surfed the web quickly, and still fit nicely in my hand. Now that I have my brand new Tour, I can clearly see everyone using the Curve from Verizon Wireless making the switch.
When the box arrived, the first thing that jumped out was the "Global Smartphone" words typed out on the bottom of the unit. Simply put, it means that the Tour, along with other Verizon Wireless BlackBerry's such as the Storm, is capable of using a built in SIM card reader to allow customers to use their phones while traveling abroad. While I rarely travel outside the US, it could turn out to be a useful feature for those that make frequent trips outside our borders compared to the Curve 8330.
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Features Compared to the Curve
Opening the box reveals the handset with all of its related peripherals neatly packed underneath. At first glance the new design features of RIM's latest devices shines through and you have to admit that the phone is quite attractive. The faux chrome finish wrapped around the screen, keyboard, and black body pieces ensures a look of elegance for the phone, while the build factor is on the stronger side compared to past devices.
The new screen is also a high-res 480x360 pixel and is brilliant compared to the Curve. Flush mount buttons under the screen replace the curved buttons previously used. But the greatest improvement is the redesigned trackball. It sits flush with the screen and offers much smoother rolling and more precise button pushing control. You can really feel the difference when using it to navigate the updated web browser built in.
When you start the device, it is noticeable that it is much quicker than its predecessor. Commands are executed much more swiftly, partly due to the upgraded 256MB of built in memory. The new OS design is also both attractive and fuctional, however, one of the only complaints I have is that they did not include themes with the phone that were included on many other RIM Blackberrys. It does include a new feature that allows the user to create customer folders for better app management that previous versions of the OS.
Battery life is unfortunately a little shorter, especially when using the Bluetooth radio. Audio quality is also fairly good, but some people on the other end of the line seemed to think that I sound far away and have complained of difficulty hearing me, an issue not noticed on the Curve. I'm not sure if this is a legitimate issue with the phone or if it is just a quirk with my device, more testing is definitely needed.
Lastly, the phone does not include Wi-Fi support. While this is not a total loss, since it does have full 3G EV-DO Rev A support, which I tend to use mush more often that Wi-Fi, it is definitely missed since many of RIM's competitors are integrating it in.
With all that said, I have to say I truly think RIM and Verizon have a true winner on their hands. The Tour is fast, fun, looks great, and has all the functions that one should and could want in a smartphone. It's definitely an improvement over the Curve. 4.5 out of 5 stars!
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- Author's own experience.
- BlackBerry, http://worldwide.blackberry.com/blackberrytour/