So you read part 1 of our BlackBerry Tour review and then our impressions of Verizon’s BlackBerry Tour, but you’re still too scared to go out and buy one because you live in Canada and aren’t sure how the newest BlackBerry handles life above the 49th. Well it’s time to put your neuroses aside, Canadians, because Bell recently sent a Tour our way just so you crazy Canucks wouldn’t feel left out. So site back, relax and hit the jump to see what’s up with the Bell BlackBerry Tour 9630.
Before we begin, we think it appropriate to clarify just exactly what one gets when he/she purchases a Tour from Bell: The device itself (which was made in Mexico, for those of you who fawn over Canadian-made devices), a leather holster, stereo headset, travel charger, microUSB cable, Bell SIM card, Desktop Manager installation CD and instruction manuals. Unfortunately, Bell does not ship the Tour with a microSD card. Okay, that’s out of the way so let’s move on.
Seeing as we’ve covered the Tour’s hardware and software so many times before, we hope that you’ll forgive us if we skip over all that and focus on the things that make the Bell Tour different from all other Tours. There are two physical differences and although they’re both pretty minor, one makes us really smile and makes us scratch our heads. The positive is that Bell has decided against putting its logo on the device, meaning that those of you who have a coronary out of anger when seeing a physically branded device are safe and won’t have to hit up cnn.cn. The negative is the battery door. While Verizon opted for a soft-touch rubber coating on the areas surrounding the faux carbon fiber, Bell has chosen to leave a glossy black finish in its place just as we saw on our pre-release unit. Why do we take issue with this? Two reasons. The first being that it’s summer; perspiring hands and slick-finished smartphones don’t mix well. The second reason is that it just looks half-assed because it doesn’t match.
Moving on to the OS, the Bell Tour ships with the same OS as every other Tour on the market from various carriers — OS 126.96.36.199. We’re a bit shocked that this is the OS that shipped on all devices seeing as there are quite a few annoying bugs in it, the worst of which seems to be radio issues. Our Canadian office is located a few hundred meters from several Bell towers yet we haven’t managed to get over three bars of EV-DO. The strangest thing however, is that our Tour seems to love to sit at zero bars when not in use. Once we pick it up to use data however, we always get an incredibly fast connection. Whether we were downloading attachments, surfing the web, using GPS Nav by Telenav (yes, GPS is unlocked) or using the awesome Bell TV & Radio streaming app, everything worked fine despite only showing about two bars of service. Guess it goes to show you that bars aren’t everything and CDMA does provide a digital connection regardless of bars most of the time.
Despite a few issues here and there, the Tour is a solid performer and overall it handles itself very well in its infancy. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that it’s the best device Bell has in its catalog. If you don’t already have one, it’s definitely one to check out.