Editors' note: The RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630 for Sprint is largely similar to Verizon's version of the smartphone in terms of design and features. For this review, we highlight the different features and performance of the Sprint model. For more details on the device, please read our full review of the RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630 for Verizon Wireless. Also, please note that the ratings have been adjusted since the original publish date to reflect newer devices that have entered the market.
Both Sprint and Verizon Wireless made its customers very happy when they announced the July 12 release of the RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630. However, when it came to launch time, Sprint didn't quite deliver on its promise, as customers were met with back-order messages and in-store stock shortages. Though it's not clear how this mess happened in the first place, Sprint has apologized for the delays via Twitter and said additional shipments are on the way and it is working with RIM to meet everyone's needs.
While obviously not the best way to launch a product, the positive side is that the BlackBerry Tour 9630 is worth the wait. We finally received our review unit, and just like Verizon's model, we think the smartphone offers a great combination of a slick but functional design, updated features, and great performance. The phone is a solid upgrade for BlackBerry owners and an excellent choice for Sprint's globe-trotting customers whose needs can't be met by the HTC Snap or the Palm Pre. The Sprint RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630 is available for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates; at this time, Sprint has not announced a camera-less version of the Tour, like Verizon.
Sprint's BlackBerry Tour is largely similar to Verizon's model in design, with the exception of a couple of minor differences. For example, it has a silver bezel instead of a charcoal gray one. Also, while keeping the partial soft-touch finish on back, the battery cover is completely smooth and doesn't feature a patterned texture like the Verizon Tour, so it feels a bit slick.
Overall, though, we're fans of the Tour's design, especially the full QWERTY keyboard and high-resolution display. Sprint packages the smartphone with a travel charger (but no international adapters like Verizon's), a microUSB cable, a belt holster, a wired stereo headset, a 1GB microSD card, a SIM card, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
Just like Verizon, the RIM BlackBerry Tour 9630 replaces the BlackBerry 8830 World Edition for Sprint, bringing the smartphone up to speed in features while continuing to offer dual-mode functionality for world-roaming capabilities. Dual-mode functionality means the handset supports both CDMA and GSM technology, so domestically, the BlackBerry Tour will use Sprint's CDMA network, but will then automatically detect and switch to the international GSM bands when traveling overseas. In addition, the BlackBerry Tour supports the 2,100MHz UMTS/HSDPA band, so you can even get 3G support while abroad.
You are not limited to using the SIM card that Sprint provided and can swap it out for an international SIM card, but you will need to call Sprint Customer Care first to unlock your phone. Sprint offers voice coverage in 185 countries and data coverage in 150 countries. Before you embark on your trip, however, be sure to check Sprint's international rates, which range from 59 cents to $5.99. You can check rates here (PDF).