Hands On: RIM BlackBerry Tour

I got to play around with Research in Motion's newest BlackBerry yesterday, and I have to say, I liked what I saw. Don't get too excited though, the BlackBerry Tour is not far off from other recent BlackBerry models -- it's more like the love child of the Curve 8900, the Storm, and the Bold.

I got to play around with Research in Motion's newest BlackBerry yesterday, and I have to say, I liked what I saw. Don't get too excited though, the BlackBerry Tour is not far off from other recent BlackBerry models -- it's more like the love child of the Curve 8900, the Storm, and the Bold.

The Tour (pictured above, right) is being released later this summer, and will be offered through Verizon and Sprint. The Curve 8900 (pictured above, left) was recently released for T-Mobile. The Tour is a tiny bit larger than the 8900, with only a 20 gram difference in weight.

Actually, there's not too many differences between the two phones. They both have a very nice high-resolution 480x360-pixel color display, they both come with 256 MB of internal Flash memory, and they both have a 3.2-megapixel camera.

I was extremely impressed by the quality of screen resolution. At times, I forgot I was looking at a phone screen while browsing the Web. Also, the photos I took were crisp and clear, and the video I shot was just as good.

The biggest thing about the Tour is that it's fast. And I mean fast. The Tour uses a 528 MHz Qualcomm processor and runs BlackBerry OS 4.7.1, which makes zipping around through the BlackBerry fast and easy. The Tour is a true world phone, and is aptly named. It supports EVDO Rev A 3G networks domestically, and both quad-band EDGE and foreign-band HSDPA when out of the country.

The Tour and Curve 8900 do differ in the keyboard. It's really a matter of preference which type of keyboard you find easiest to type on, but I thought the Tour was a little more fluid.  The typing was smooth and natural. The Tour has the same keyboard as the BlackBerry Bold. As you can see in the above photo, the Tour's keys aren't separated like they are on the 8900. They have a little groove on each key, which makes it so your finger doesn't slip off onto the adjacent key.

The Curve 8900 gets a little bit better talk time, but only by about a half hour. Otherwise, the same lithium battery provides 5 hours of talk time for the Tour.

To sum it up, the BlackBerry Tour isn't anything absolutely revolutionary, but it's hard to come out with something that will blow the fish out of the water at this point. Still, it seems like a good phone, and offers great speed and clarity.

You can expect it towards the end of the summer, although there's no official release date right now.

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