These days everyone wants a smart phone however ridiculous prices and
restrictions may prevent many from upgrading or they settle for models that
ultimate don't live up to our expectations. While Sprint has an impressive
selection of smart phones (ranging from $300 and up), many of them don't deliver and have very mixed customer reviews. I did not want to just settle for a cheap smartphone, so I went for the Blackberry Tour which is a $600 device which after rebates and a 2 year contract was reduced to just $150. And why would I go into such an investment? Trust me, this phone is worth every penny and its overwhelmingly positive reviews because its a fusion of other high demand electronics - an impressive digital camera, a laptop with Microsoft Office (word, powerpoint, excel), a web browser, radio, gps system (find your location and directs to places), mp3 player, and more. You won't find too many cons in this review, but before I go on I just want to point out that the battery life is a bit disappointing so if you do buy it, keep the charger handy or buy a second battery to swap out.
Now despite Sprint's reps explaining the Tour is intended more for the upper
crust globe trotting business executive (which does not fit my profile in any capacity), I still demanded the phone. This is an incredibly powerful device which provides an incredible convenience to its
I had a Blackberry a couple of years back when they had trackwheels. The Tour
has a trackball which functions as a mouse to move around the screen and click on links or buttons. The old blackberry devices that had trackwheels were limited because you'd have to scroll through every link on a webpage in order to select something. The only thing I'm worried about with the trackball are from reports that with time they may collect dust and not respond, requiring repairs or replacement. I've had the phone for about a month now and haven't run into any problems yet.
Camera picture and video capture quality is very impressive at 3.2 megapixels. It has auto-focus, flash and a geo-tracking special feature that keeps track of where a photo was taken.
You won't need a special set or headphones or some additional jack on the Tour. Its compatible with the same headphones you use everyday with your iPod. Its micro SD compatible and can take cards up to 16gb.
With a data plan you can access Sprint TV and watch programming from various
popular networks right on the phone. You also have access to tons of
downloadable apps and games, many of which carry no additional charges like
Slacker radio, ebay, sprint tv (where if you have an unlimited data plan can
view various channels like Disney or SyFy and watch episodes of popular shows
free) and weatherbug to name just a few.
The only 2 negative aspects of the phone I think deserved to be addressed is the battery life and lack of Wi-Fi support. Unless you're in an area with good 3G coverage, browsing can be extremely sluggish. When I'm at work, I often times have a weak signal that goes in and out since I'm smack dab in the middle as opposed to near a window. Wi-fi would help out so you can get a strong signal to connect to at work, school, a restaurant, etc as opposed to having to wave your phone around trying to get reception. And in terms of battery life while Sprint boasts it provides 300 minutes of talk time, the various other features drain power fast to a point where you need to strongly consider having a backup battery handy to swap out if you're not going to be near an outlet to recharge. I'm up at 5am and I'm a heavy texter plus have a few mobile alerts set up on my phone and AIM and Facebook messages bouncing in now and then. By 10:30-11am, the battery is usually already at half. One convenience to save battery life if you're in a place with no service is the ability to disable its signal searching mechanism so its not wasting power to try to connect when you're underground in the subway for instance.
I love this phone. I have the "crackberry" addiction. You'll never see me without this thing at arm's length! I can follow my favorite Youtube channels
anywhere, get mail, write papers (or reviews like this one), set up reminders, get bank statements.. I don't even care that Sprint is still pricier than rival companies or that I'm bound in a 2 year contract! Its all the conveniences of a home computer in a portable handheld phone.
Update On Feb 25, 2010: Apparently they just changed their prices. Now this phone is going for $449.99 and $100 after the contract, rebate, etc. Geez, had I waited a month I could have saved $50.
Update On Feb 26, 2010: Oh yeah, in terms of volume it can sometimes be hard to hear the other person. The speakphone isn't that impressive either. Also you seem to go in and out more if the signal isn't perfect. The voice memo feature only works when you're not making or receiving a call which I thought was stupid because my previous Sprint phone, the LG Rumor 2, allowed me to record a conversation while I was having it. I mean it helps if you're on the move and don't have a pen and paper to write down whatever someone's trying to tell you. Of course with the BB you could always just have them e-mail that info to you or something.
Update On Aug 19, 2010: Terrible news to report about the Blackberry Tour. Its plagued with problems after a couple of months. I got it Feb 2010 and have had to call for a replacement twice. After 2 months, the battery drains out faster, the signal goes in and out, call clarity diminishes and you'll find yourself rebooting the phone almost daily! It doesn't look like there are any plans to address the issues or new updates to fix bugs. This phone is great while it lasts, but its not worth the investment. Sure you can backup everything then reload it onto a replacement phone.. But is it worth it to constantly require a replacement? I'm abandoning the Blackberry and Sprint. I've heard great things about Droid phones with Verizon and I think I'll sign up with them for a more reliable smartphone.