I own over 200 phones, because of my job as a cell phone tester/ reviewer, and I love the Blackberry Tour.
Design – Very Good
The new BlackBerry Tour on Verizon is an attractive, modern looking BlackBerry device, and for better or worse it news to recent BlackBerry design trends. Of all the best full-QWERTY, non-touchscreen phones I have seen recently, the BlackBerry Tour finishes near the bottom in looks, and it wasn't nearly as thin, stylish and downright enviable as the Nokia E71x on AT&T. RIM has gotten into a strange habit recently of mixing up textures on their phones, with spots that are glossy, soft touch, textured or even banded with chrome. It's a nicer looking phone than the BlackBerry Bold, but it seems like RIM has stopped innovating in their designs.
The BlackBerry Tour has a crisp and colorful screen. Otherwise, the interface is almost completely unchanged, which is both good and bad for users. If you're looking to upgrade from a previous BlackBerry and you've been waiting for a new full-QWERTY device on Verizon Wireless, I have got good news. The new BlackBerry interface is a dramatic improvement over the last generation. It's more colorful and modern looking, but it keeps the same basic organization and button layout.
If you've been hesitant about the BlackBerry platform because it seems a bit too complicated for you, well, I have got some bad news as well. The BlackBerry OS, on its surface, is very pretty, its main menu flush with useful icons and folders. But at heart, this BlackBerry still seems like a pager, created more for corporate IT types than average users. Many applications come set up lacking key functions, requiring you to dig through long, confusing menus and settings options, and these were not only counterintuitive, but they were also constantly changing depending on where I was. None of it made much sense. For instance, you can adjust the phone's equalizer settings for music playback from a pop-up menu in the main music screen, but the same option disappears when you're on the Now Playing screen. This wasn't just a problem in the multimedia apps, similar issues cropped up everwhere. I appreciate the power and adaptability of the BlackBerry platform, but RIM should consider creating a no-fear option that would hide the extensive and disorganized options for those of us who just want a phone that works well, without so much hassle.
Though call quality on the BlackBerry Tour left me wanting a different phone, the phone had an excellent selection of calling features, including some that you can't find on other carriers. Sound quality suffered from a general muddiness, with a deep humming sound attached to voices. The phone lacked the bright clarity of the BlackBerry Bold. Reception was usually excellent, a solid 5 bars of service on Verizon Wireless' network in the average area. Battery life was also superb, as I’d expect from a BlackBerry device. Though RIM estimates only 5 hours of talk time, I managed a single call that lasted more than 6.5 hours. Older BlackBerry devices could go even longer, but in this age of hi-res screens and faster, 3G networks, I am happy with those numbers.
The BlackBerry Tour has a few nifty tricks up its sleeve for handling an address book. First, if your company uses a BlackBerry server, you can synchronize with your corporate accounts. If you don't have access to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), you can synchronize your contacts and calendar manually with Outlook using the BlackBerry desktop application. Beyond these standard options, the BlackBerry Tour is the first BlackBerry device I have seen that can work with Facebook to grab friends' contact information from your FB account. Once you've set up the RIM Facebook App, you can import a contact's picture and available data. If a person doesn't have a phone number listed on Facebook, the BlackBerry will send them a message asking for their number. Kind of clever and creepy, all at once. The BlackBerry Tour doesn't go as far as the Palm Pre's Synergy feature, which automatically imports all Facebook contacts, and seems more in line with a similar feature on the Windows Mobile HTC Touch Pro 2.
Otherwise, the BlackBerry Tour gets a nice selection of calling features, including Visual Voicemail. Even though Apple started the Visual Voicemail revolution with their iPhone on AT&T, Verizon Wireless has done a great job equipping their devices with this excellent feature. Visual Voicemail lets you listen to messages out of order and delete the ones you don't need. Messages are saved on the phone, so you can listen without dialing into the central service. The BlackBerry Tour also gets a good voice dialing app, and you can activate voice dialing with the dedicated button on the side of the phone. The speakerphone was a bit disappointing; I wish it were much louder, as Ihad a hard time hearing callers when I tested it while driving around.
Answered By: Grayson - 7/26/2009