By Ginny Mies PC Advisor | on May 10, 2009
Price: depends on contract
Company: RIM (BlackBerry)
The individual keys were easy to press and had just enough clickiness, avoiding the rigidness of the 8900's keyboard. Like those on the Bold, the BlackBerry Tour 9630's sculpted keys minimise finger slippage, which makes for a comfy and ergonomic typing experience. One drawback is that the keys on the edges of the keyboard are positioned flush against the phone's edges. On a few occasions, we caught ourselves tapping the case rather than the Alt or Del key.
The Tour's speakerphone was impressive. We could hear parties on the other end of the line clearly while walking down a busy city street.
The BlackBerry Tour 9630 runs BlackBerry OS 4.7.1, which, like the hardware, is a mash-up of the operating systems used on the Bold, the Curve 8900, and the Storm. The home screen features background wallpaper and a customisable application-shortcut view known as the "ribbon".
Pushing the dedicated menu key takes you to the main application screen, which is populated with app icons identical to those you'd find on a BlackBerry Storm. Sometimes it's a bit hard to tell what a particular icon symbolizes, since many of them look pretty similar. But when you roll over an icon with the Tour's speedy trackball, a label appears in a text line beneath it, clearly identifying the icon's function.
The biggest update in the unit's software is the latest version of the BlackBerry Messenger, which comes preloaded on the Tour. This app has a spruced-up interface that's easier to use, more emoticons to choose from, and the ability to display your location via GPS.
Even though the BlackBerry Tour 9630 is first and foremost a business device, it has solid multimedia features. The unit's fairly plain native music app is identical to the one on the Curve 8900 and the Bold. It lets you view your library by song, artist, or genre. During playback, a miniature album thumbnail appears.
Video looked great on the Tour's crisp display, but 2.4 inches feels awfully small in comparison to the dimensions of touchscreen giants such as the Storm and the iPhone 3GS. Still, playback was smooth and showed little pixelation or distortion.
The 3.2-megapixel camera is an upgrade over the Bold's 2-megapixel lens. It also has a flash, variable zoom, image stabilisation, autofocus, and video recording.
Video recording was distinctly better on the iPhone 3GS than on the BlackBerry Tour 9630. The clips we recorded with the Tour had a noticeable amount of ghosting and colour distortion.
The BlackBerry Tour 9630 delivers exactly what users expect from a BlackBerry: an excellent keyboard; a slick design; and a hearty, messaging-friendly operating system. But the lack of Wi-Fi is at this point seems unforgivable in a business-class smartphone.