RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630 (Verizon, Sprint): How to Tell if the Tour's for You

The BlackBerry Tour 9630, RIM's newest BlackBerry, is now available in the United States. But with so many smartphone options--Pre, iPhone, myTouch 3G, etc.--it can be difficult to determine which device is best for you. Here's a breakdown of the BlackBerry Tour to help inform your buying decision.

Mon, July 13, 2009

CIO — Research In Motion (RIM) has released its latest addition to the BlackBerry family: the BlackBerry Tour 9630 from Verizon Wireless and Sprint. Though the Tour's nothing revolutionary, it's sure to put countless smiles on the faces of CDMA-BlackBerry users across North America. Here's how to tell if the new BlackBerry Tour should be your next smartphone.

images of both Verizon Wireless and Sprint BlackBerry Tour 9630
Verizon Wireless and Sprint BlackBerry Tour 9630 (via CrackBerry)

First off, the most important factor of all: Do you live, work or spend most of your time in a "good" Sprint or Verizon wireless coverage zone? After all, no device on the planet is going to get the job done without sufficient wireless coverage--especially with no Wi-Fi, but I'll get to that shortly.

The best way to determine if you reside or work in an area with strong Sprint or Verizon coverage is to speak with a friend, colleague, neighbor, etc., who uses Sprint or Verizon on a daily basis. Get general impressions of each carrier's coverage in your areas. Then check out the appropriate online coverage maps. (Verizon here and Sprint here.) And visit a Sprint or Verizon store to speak with company representatives. In other words, do a bit of research.

If you find that Sprint or Verizon coverage isn't up to snuff where you roam most often, you'll probably want to avoid the Tour--at least for now.

Next, the device itself and some quick technical specifications from RIM:

  • 528-MHz next-generation processor

  • Dual-band CDMA/EV-DO Rev A (800/1900MHz); World Phone, Quad-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz); UMTS/HSPA (2100MHz)

  • Built-in GPS

  • High-resolution (HVGA+ / 480x360), light-sensing display

  • Enhanced Web browser

  • DataViz Documents To Go

  • Advanced multimedia player with support for streaming video

  • Support for BlackBerry Media Sync (iTunes playlist sync)

  • BlackBerry OS v4.7

  • Expandable memory slot for up to 16GB of storage

  • 3.2 MP camera with auto focus, digital zoom, flash, image stabilization and video recording

  • Support for the renowned messaging capabilities of the BlackBerry platform, including push e-mail, popular instant messaging applications and premium phone features

The features that really catch my eye here are the processor speed; the device's support for a wide array of wireless networks, both GSM and CDMA; the new BlackBerry software, OS v4.7; and the 3.2 megapixel, auto-focus camera.

None of these features are really unique to the Tour; in fact, both the Sprint- and Verizon-branded versions of RIM's 8830 are "World Phones," meaning they work on both CDMA and GSM networks, as does Verizon's Storm 9530 device. The Storm also runs on a 528MHz-processor and has a similar version of BlackBerry OS 4.7 meant for touch-screen devices. And most of RIM's latest handhelds, from the Storm on (Curve 8900, Tour, etc.), have 3.2 megapixel cameras with auto-focus.

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