I've had Verizon's version of the BlackBerry Tour 9630 for several days now and it rocks. WiFi is conspicuously absent from the device, and the back panel battery cover wiggles way too much, but it's still without question the best BlackBerry in Big Red's lineup. If you can live without that WiFI, Tour is arguably the best BlackBerry in the world.  

That's gonna be one heck of an argument, though.

Tour's size and design place it roughly between the Bold 9000 (AT&T) and Curve 8900 (T-Mobile). What do I mean by that?

  • In terms of length, width, and weight, Bold is the biggest, Tour's in the middle, and the 8900 is smallest
  • Tour is thicker than both Bold and 8900, which is expected since it's a CDMA device
  • Tour's display is the same resolution (480 x 360) as the 8900's, which is higher-res than Bold (480 x 320)
  • Tour's keyboard is similar in design to Bold's, and roomier than the 8900's but smaller than Bold's
  • Bold ships with a 1500 mAh battery while Tour and the 8900 both ship with 1400 mAh batteries
  • All three devices are black with silver-ish trim.  Tour may be the sexiest looking, though, as it sports a pearly dark grey shade of chrome trim and a matte black back panel cooler that's looking than Bold's fake leather AND a carbon fiber-esque battery door that's both easier to use and cooler looking that the 8900's back door.
  • I'm not sure if I'm digging Tour's black trackball.  It's kind of stealthy, yeah, but I like the way the white trackballs glow when they're backlit.  Also, is it me or is Tour's trackball smaller than those on Bold and 8900?

Enough about appearances.  How about a few subjective takes on Tour?

  • OS 4.7 is OS 4.7.  To all but the most discerning eyes, Tour looks and acts like Bold and 8900.  Especially if you ditch the stock wallpaper with the giant Verizon V logo.
  • Tour lacks WiFi, which is a joke. C'mon, Verizon (and Sprint, for that matter): Smartphones should pack WiFi.  It's a no-brainer.  It's not like WiFi lets your customers skip out on that $30+ monthly BlackBerry data plan, so what's the problem?  WiFI makes smartphones better, period.
  • Tour's keyboard is excellent. 8900's keyboard is more of an isolated key, chiclet-style affair, while Bold's is like Tour's but bigger and a little softer-feeling. I may prefer Bold to Tour by a hair, but that's ... well ... splitting hairs, at least so far. New users may initially balk at the sculpted, angled feel of the keys, but once you stop thinking about it and just start typing, you'll quickly give into the Force.
  • The battery cover on my review loaner wiggles around way too much. If I'd just bought this phone I'd be taking it back to the store for a replacement - or at least a new battery cover. If they told me, "Sorry, that's how they ALL are," would I exchange for a different phone? Likely not - it's not a deal breaker. But it's annoyingly sloppy.
  • Voice quality thus far has been good, if not the best I've ever heard. Data speeds have generally been very good, and Email has been BlackBerry solid.
  • I haven't really had a chance to test out the aGPS chip yet. I gotta get out more.
  • BlackBerry App World has some stuff in it, but nothing I'm super excited to test out. But I will pick a few apps and download and install and test them because that's my job. Feel free to suggest some winners, and DON'T say "Facebook" or "mySpace."
So is Tour the best BlackBerry going right now on any carrier anywhere? No. Why not? No WiFi. Seriously, that wouldn't stop me from buying one if I was a Verizon customer, but it does prevent me from giving it the title of Best Berry. And trying to figure out which Berry deserves that title is almost as frustrating as Tour's lack of WiFi. To Wit: Bold has 3G and WiFi, and has my favorite keyboard of any BlackBerry, but lacks the screen resolution of 8900 and Tour. The 8900 has a great form factor, that HVGA display, and WiFI backed by UMA calling (which is really handy), but it lacks 3G and its keyboard isn't quite as nice as those on the other two. And Tour? Well, it's got 3G and it's smaller than Bold overall while still retaining a super-comfy QWERTY and the highest-rez screen. But no WiFi. Sigh.

But enough out of me, what say you? Have you used a Tour? Or a Bold or 8900? Or even all three? Which is the Best Berry?


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