The Research in Motion BlackBerry Tour is RIM's new CDMA BlackBerry device. The BlackBerry Tour 9630 melds the best of the BlackBerry Bold and the BlackBerry Curve 8900 into one slick package.
Unfortunately, like the BlackBerry Storm, the BlackBerry Tour 9630 lacks Wi-Fi, a disappointing omission for a business-focused device.
In appearance, the BlackBerry Tour 9630 shares attributes of the BlackBerry Bold and of the BlackBerry Curve 8900.
But the BlackBerry Tour 9630 has the same dimensions as the BlackBerry Storm, measuring 112x62x14.2mm. At 130g, the BlackBerry Tour 9630 weighs less than the Storm but is slightly heavier than the feather-light Curve 8900.
The BlackBerry Tour 9630 felt just right in hand; the Bold can feel too large, and the 8900 almost too thin.
And whereas the Bold looks chintzy and the 8900 a bit dull, the BlackBerry Tour 9630 has a subtle elegance. The phone's body combines a muted chrome bezel with smooth black rubber and textured plastic. The texture contributes to the phone's comfortable in-hand feel.
As with most other BlackBerry handsets of the newer generation, the right spine of the BlackBerry Tour 9630 houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, a volume rocker, a dedicated camera key (which can be customised to serve as another shortcut) and a mini-USB port (for data transfers and power). The left spine accommodates the voice-dialing key (also customisable) and a speaker.
The BlackBerry Tour 9630's display measures 2.4in - smaller than the Bold's - but it has the same 480-by-360-pixel resolution as the displays on the Storm and the Curve 8900. Our only criticism of it is that we found the thin black bezel that borders the display a bit distracting. We wish that RIM had simply extended the display to the very edge as on the 8900 or the Bold.
Nevertheless, the BlackBerry Tour 9630's display looks gorgeous: colours looked bright, details were crisp, and text popped off the screen.
Beneath the display reside the familiar BlackBerry navigation buttons on either side of the trackball: Talk, Menu, Back, and End/Power. Holding down the menu key lets you switch easily between open applications - a feature we also liked on the BlackBerry Storm. You can program either the dedicated camera key or the voice-dialing key (on the right and left spindles, respectively) as application switchers, if you wish.
Unlike the trackballs on other BlackBerry devices we've used, the one on the BlackBerry Tour 9630 is a bit recessed into the hardware. Although it wasn't difficult to use, it was less touch-friendly than other BlackBerry trackballs we've used.
The keyboard exemplifies BlackBerry at its best, combining the strongest aspects of the 8900 and the Bold. The keyboard is more compact than the Bold's, but it's still spacious enough to type long messages on.
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.