Sprint BlackBerry Tour 9630 Review

By David Boyd on 11 Aug 2009 09:54 am EDT
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Sprint BlackBerry Tour Review

The new BlackBerry Tour smartphone launched on the Sprint Network last month, and it was a highly anticipated device for many Sprint users. Up until the launch of the Tour, the only options for BlackBerry smartphones for Sprint users were the Curve 8330, 8830 World Phone, and the Pearl 8130. While these are all great devices, none of them could compare to the BlackBerry Bold that was launched on GSM carriers almost a year ago.

Sprint had some initial launch issues with device shortages, and even a little mix up with a Sperizon device being sent out. Seems things to have simmered down a bit, and now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty with a device review. So sit back and relax, and let the good times begin.

Sprint BlackBerry Tour 9630 Review

Sprint Tour Box

What comes in the box

Well of course the most important item is the BlackBerry Tour itself. Other included items are a Lithium Ion battery, micro USB wall charger, USB sync cable, basic stereo headset, 1GB microSD memory card, Sprint SIM card, leather holster, user tools CD, and various other information packets.

Specs and Features

Before we can talk too much about the Tour, let's go over what to expect with it:

  • BlackBerry Push Technology
  • Camera: 3.2MP for picture and video capture with flash and variable zoom
  • 256MB Flash Memory (for apps, browse cache, running the OS, etc.)
  • MicroSD/SDHC Memory Card Slot: Supports cards up to 16GB (for music, videos, ringtones, app storage with the new BB App World, etc.)
  • Network: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A, 2100 MHz UMTS/HSPA and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM
  • Internal GPS
  • Display: 480x360 pixel display, Half VGA+
  • Dimensions: 4.4" x 2.4" x 0.6"

Form Factor

Right from the start, the Tour feels good in the hand. It has very similar stylings to the BlackBerry Bold, but it is smaller in size, so in that respect it is closer to the size of the BlackBerry Curve 8900.

It is very similar to the Verizon Tour, but has a few minor differences such as a chrome bezel and a smooth battery door with no texturing. I personally like the chrome look, but I also know several of you will like the darker charcoal look of the Verizon Tour bezel. I'm sure parts will be available soon so that you can change the bezel to one of your liking, or even better yet if you have the cash, consider ColorWare.

Also included on the Tour, is the addition of the black trackball. This was first seen on the Curve 8900 and has been a fan of many users. I personally prefer the black trakball. It seems to roll smoother, and most importantly, it doesn't show dirt like the white trackballs do.

Side angle

Features

The Tour is loaded with features to make it both a business and a consumer device. First and foremost, it is a world edition phone. As previously stated, it operates in the US on Sprint's CDMA network, but also has GSM capabilities for when traveling overseas. The Tour comes loaded with a Sprint SIM card, but users can have their device unlocked, and then obtain a local SIM card from whatever area they are traveling in.

Another added bonus on this device is the 3.2MP auto focus camera. Since the camera was first introduced on the BlackBerry Pearl, it has constantly improved year after year. It took a little getting used to for me, but I think I've finally mastered the camera and have been able to take some excellent pictures.

The Tour is jam packed with many other features as well, but the one thing it didn't come loaded with is WiFi. In my opinion, this is the one thing that would've put the Tour over the top. Maybe I've just been spoiled by having it on my past three BlackBerry devices. Sprint has a pretty zippy network with their 'Rev. A' speeds, but I still enjoy being able to use WiFi for web surfing when it's available. The good news is that RIM should/will be including WiFi on all future CDMA devices, meaning this is hopefully the last time we'll ever have to gripe about lack of WiFi.

Miscellaneous Observations

I've been part of CrackBerry.com since the site first launched, and have talked to many people on the forums, in person, and via BlackBerry Messenger, and a question I frequently get asked is what carrier has the best coverage. My answer to them is I don't know. Each person needs to answer that question for themselves. Check each carriers coverage maps, and then start talking to people around you and get some real life experiences. I hear all too often that Sprint would be a better network if they just had better coverage. I have limited experience with Sprint, but what I can tell you is that from what I have observed they have outstanding coverage in my area. Many places that I went to where I used to have no coverage with AT&T or T-Mobile still have bars of service on the Tour. I was very impressed. Calls were clear, and I never once experienced a dropped call. The only location I found an issue with signal was at my own house, but to be fair, the Sprint coverage maps indicate that as well. I would still get a signal, but sometimes only one or two bars. However, even with a low amount of bars, I did not have any problems with call quality.

Battery life on the Tour has been most impressive for me. I am used to a Bold where I could never make it through a day on one charge. I never once had an issue with the Tour running out of power before I was ready for bed. I am generally a heavy user of my devices, and the Tour stood up well to the challenge.

An added bonus to the Sprint Network is their Simply Everything plans. I think by far, they have the most bang for your buck. It's nice to see a carrier include so many things for one price, and not nickel and dime you to death for every little added feature. I found myself using Sprint Navigation powered by TeleNav frequently. The Tour would quickly lock onto to a satellite with the built-in GPS, and after entering where I wanted to go, I was off to the races with voice guided directions and maps.

Sprint Nav1Sprint Nav2

Sprint also has these great features included for no additional cost on all data plans:

  • NFL Mobile Live Access - Listen to live audio broadcast of every regular season game and watch the live broadcasts of all NFL Netowrk games.
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile - With NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, instantly connect to the NASCAR information you want, when you want it.
  • Sprint TV Enabled - Watch live TV and video-on-demand with full-motion video and vivid sound. Catch the latest news, sports, weather, entertainment and movie trailers on the go.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

My final thoughts on the BlackBerry Tour 9630 are that it is awesome! If you are on Sprint, or thinking about joining Sprint, this is the BlackBerry you must have. Combine this awesome BlackBerry with Sprint's Simply Everything plan and you'll be set for just $99.99/month. I honestly wish all carriers offered a great deal like this.

The Tour is a fast device, running the stable BlackBerry OS. The addition of the 3.2MP camera and world phone capabilities make this device a must have. If you are interested in picking one up, you can head over to the CrackBerry Wireless Store where the Tour is just $169.99 with a new 2-year agreement.

Related BlackBerry Tour Links:

Topics: Device Reviews

Reader comments

Sprint BlackBerry Tour 9630 Review

58 Comments

Upgraded from an Curve 8330 (wife is now using it) to the Tour on Saturday. So far I'm loving it. The screen is much crisper and the camera is much better.

I have the Tour, Curve and Pre at the moment (all on Sprint.) The Tour often can not get GPS signal for Nav when the Pre sitting right next to it gets a clear signal. Also the call quality seems to break up while the Pre is loud and clear for calls.
Other than those issues, the Tour has been nice to use. The screen is great! Though I am not sure it's really much of an upgrade from the Curve - as the Curve also seems to lock onto Nav better than the Tour, and the Curve's keyboard is somehow easier to use. I think my hands much prefer to have space between the keys...

I considered switching to AT&T (to upgrade from a Curve to a Bold), but when I compared features and prices, my monthly bill would have increased by $15 to $20. Add that on top of an early cancellation fee, it just didn't make sense. Things like unlimited texting, GPS and TV were all extras with AT&T. Just my $0.02!

The Tour reviewed here is running on Sprint. The article mentions the value Sprint offers with their plans. This commenter is expressing his experience with Sprint. It is not directly related to the Tour, but it is very much directly related to the article/review.

I currently have the Tour, got it as a replacement to my HTC Diamond so I am new to the BB workd and I am enjoyng it far. It is definitely hard to adapt to the new OS, coming from WinMO and a touch screen but I like the speed of the tour, the battery life on it is great (only charge it every 2 to 3 days, used to char my diamond about twice a day). I am within the 30 days so I will keep experimenting with it. I was undecided as to which phone to get between the Tour and the Pre. I will be cheking out the Pre as well just to make sure that decision I make is solid.

As always :)

OT but i was wondering what that app is next to Sprint Navigation. It always bugs me when i see that app around the forums and not knowing what it is. Thanks

I had the 8330 Curve on Sprint. Upgraded to Tour. Much faster, much nicer screen. Just can't get some of the LBS programs to use the GPS chip (Google Maps and Poynt so far). Anyone here have a solution?

Ill be getting my Tour in 3 weeks and I cannot wait!! Ive been without a Blackberry for 4 1/2 months and I cant wait to get my hands on this baby :)

How strong is the "vibrate" since this is one of the things I'm dissappointed with my 8130. When it is in my pocket, I can't notice it. Thank you,

If the 8310 vibrates like the 8330 (like I think it does) you'll be very disappointed with the Tour, but the phone is still awesome!

This is my second blackberry. I had the pearl and HATED it. Switched to Palms. When I saw this phone was coming out I had to try blackberry again. I ordered it back in July on the very first day it was available from the Sprint site and have been in love with it ever since. My husband bought the Palm Pre as soon as it came out and had nothing but trouble. I love how easy it is to use this phone!

Finally Sprint got a new blackberry. those freakin cell phone nazi's always get everything last. it really saddens me, being the bb hoe/nympho that i am. i always need to have the best/newest bb whenever it comes out. i came back to sprint after verizon's storm left a hurrican katrina bad taste in my mouth. f@#k verizon, the service is good, but not worth paying so much more. i lke the tour, but i think rim is dropping the mothership of all blackberries. i don't know what its called, or haven't even heard of it, but i can smell it like wolverine can smell sabretooth. but i'm in love w/ my tour til the next best bb comes out. am i wrong for that?

I'm loving it, lags and all. The OS isn't perfect, but it works great and push e-mail is the best I've had in a smartphone. Sprint network is good, not as good as Verizon, but far better than T-Mobile, and much more affordable than VZW and AT&T. Definitely a keeper.

Generally the Tour is what the claims say, except the trackball on mine has been "funky" since day one, and occasionally my Tour thinks it is on the Verizon Network. This happens when I am in my home town, not when I'm wandering. I brought it back to my Corporate Store, which until now has been wonderful, and they played with it for about an hour and gave it back to me , saying " looks fine to us." After calling customer service and telling the story to about 5 reps, they are going to send me a replacement. I'll see how that goes. So far, I am not happy.

I have experienced the same "funky" issues with the trackball on my Tour. In addition, I have used both the Verizon and Sprint Tours and the Verizon unit has a much more solid feel. The trackball, the keys, everything. However, if you want more for your money, Sprint is the way to go!

I am a convert from an HTC Touch Pro with Sprint. I had nothing but trouble with it. Just to name a few problems: dropped calls, freezing constantly, voicemails appeared without missed calls, couldn't send picture texts, etc. I had a choice between a Palm Pre or the Blackberry Tour. My friend at Sprint commented that they had a lot of returns for the Palm Pre and suggested I get the BB Tour. I have to say this is the best phone I've ever had. I love the messaging, e-mails, lightning fast picture texts, and great browser. I'll never go back to another Windows based phone AGAIN. Great job RIM.

Sounds like a great phone and one to look at, and it was nice to finally have some positive feedback about Sprint, hopefully they will begin to add to the BB line. My husband has a Verizon BB and I have a Sprint BB (due to work) and I have much better coverage with more features in the DC area. Lets hope both BB and Sprint they keep getting better.

I'm just trying to understand something here...there is a 54-page thread in the forums filled with problems with the Tour - everything from failing track balls to screen issues, OS-related bugs, etc. Yet, THIS is the rosey-colored review that we get on CB?!?

Just doesn't seem like CB really tried on this one. Thanks anyway.

OMG!! I lOVE my new tour!!! I traded in my Samsung Omnia(windows based), HATED HATED HATED that phone!! Verizon was so wonderful to exchange the phone for me! It pays to be a loyal Verizon customer for over 20 years!! The Tour is Soooo easy to use!!! This is also my first Blackberry!!

Looks like an amazing phone. Saw alot of reviews, just some minor errors here and there, but seems to be doing just fine.

I have a bb curve 8330! I am looking to get a the bb tour9630. I have one question can u send picture mail like the curve using mms? Does the tour have mms picture mail?

This is my first Blackberry. Wow! Now I know what all the talk is about. Was waiting for the Palm Pre but some friend bought it 1st and I didnt have to waste my money. I am still trying to figure it all out. I have only had it for a day. Nice phone. Very nice! I didnt like the keys at first but I am doing great now. Love the faceBook app on here, big upgrade compared to my last phone. I miss my Text conversation logging. Tx ing isnt that great on here. Maybe I just need to get used to it.

Like I have read on the blog I too am having issues with my track ball from day1. It works like it should( i guess) up and down BUT side to side it is a problem sometimes. But not enough for me to take it back. I have 29 Days to play with this before I decide really what I want to do with it. If the track ball continues to mess up I will just take it in to sprint and have it replaced. No problem...

I would recommend this device to anyone. I have had it for about 3 weeks and I love it. I used to have a BB back in the day and moved to a Treo then to a Mogul (both Windows Mobile) Although I loved the touch screens, I found myself looking for BB features. autotext in particular, speed, battery life....

I am so happy that I moved back. I use my Tour for everything. I'm connected to a BES at my office and love the fact that I can backup everything from calendar items to shortcut keys. I'm also extremely happy with my battery life. Neither of the prior two devices are close to the battery life of my Tour. I used to charge both of them at least twice a day. I can go about 2 to 3 days without charging this thing. On a heavy day, I may drop about half the battery.

Speed of the device is outstanding. Movies, music, and pictures look great. Camera takes great pictures and the MMS applet works nicely.

The screen looks awesome even in direct sunlight. Something that I was not seeing on any of the other devices.

A must buy for any BB enthusiast.

My instinct locked up for good on Sprint. I called for the tech and I do not want the instinct , I want a new phone. so they gave the tour. I had it almost a week it will be Friday. The speed is fast and it fits right in your hand. The battery life is great.plus quwarty keyboard feel great like the bold. This the smart phone I will never give up. I highly recommend everybody to get this phone.

I switched from the 8830, sound quality is great, battery life was on the low side, installed a premium batt works like a charm. Service is great thru Europe, South Africa, data & voice; West Africa voice works but Data does not run.
It would be great if it had Wi-Fi.

Its strange that not one person really mentioned the cons with the TOUR. There are many forums that report all kinds of problems specifically short battery life and faulty trackball among many other quality control issues. Also the tour can only open web pages in HTML. That means each time you log on to a page you must first zoom in and the scroll left to right when viewing. Very inconvenient. The CURVE 8330(spint) opens all pages in mobile view which is meant ti fit the screen in a phone display and is easier to read.The curve is a proven device. Reliable, easy to use, and great battery life. Wait for the next upgrade from RIM.

The Blackberry Tour is my first BB...I am happy the Iphone AT& $h!T did not get my business> I chose Sprint for the package price...I get a nice discount! Ok, so I thought the battery door was too loose...then in a few weeks no one can hear me...HUH? So I took in to the nearest Sprint "repair/fix"

replaced battery door & faulty microphone! I had a bad phone & they made it excellent!

Blackberry

NO MORE batt. DOOR wiggle

You mention in your review that the next group of phones with RIM will have WiFi. Does that mean the Tour? Like do you think the next upgrade of the Tour within the next 6 months or so might include WiFi or a whole different BB phone will have WiFi?

I am a flight attendant and go between the US and Europe regularly.
How is the coverage over in France, for example, using the Sprint Tour?
I have been a Sprint customer for years (non blackberry phone), but was looking forward to leaving them because of some outrageous minute overage charges. I am almost out of contract with Sprint.
I got a TMobile blackberry to get email while traveling because I didn't know Sprint blackberry could be used in Europe, but I am not that crazy about TMobile and want to drop them.
I was thinking of going to Verizon (as my only cell phone carrier) but everyone says it is so expensive-definitely an issue to consider- unless the coverage and features on Verizon are far superior and worth paying extra for them.
I really hate being locked in these contracts. The companies are so nice when you can leave them but treat you like crap when you are stuck with them.
Also to consider, my 2 kids have blackberries and are currently on my Sprint plan.

I just upgraded from my 8330 on Friday and have been super pleased with my new Tour. The only thing I have a problem with is the battery. My curve would last for days, but this battery is done in just a few hours. I am beginning to think that I need to get it checked out or maybe a new battery. I'll check on that this week!!

I just got this phone last night from having a curve. I LOVE it. Much faster and more comfortable. The only complaint I have is that the charger plugs into the right lower side, and it's right in the way when you're trying to type while it's charging. But the rest of the phone is so great I can live with that.