About two months ago, I became a happy Verizon (s VZ) customer. I signed up for the company’s unlimited calling and data plan. I got myself RIM’s (s RIMM) brand new release, the BlackBerry Tour, a well-balanced cross between the Curve 2 and the Bold, and was hooked onto a super-reliable network. For once, it seemed my smartphone woes were behind me. I subsequently went on a recommendation spree, urging everyone I know to buy the Tour. In fact, I convinced six of my close friends — many of whom I see almost on a daily basis — that they should switch to Verizon because of the Tour. Most of them were on AT&T (s T) and, thus, it didn’t take much convincing. But let’s just say: I should have kept my opinions to myself.
The Tour has turned out to be quite a lemon. The trackball is behaving like a 300-pound man running up a hill. Tour hangs when I am trying to send text messages or check MLB scores. There is a strange clicking sound that accompanies phone calls; furthermore, folks are complaining of a strange whooshing noise when I call them. And if all that weren’t enough — Tour’s battery dries up faster than raindrops in the Sahara. If not for the micro-USB charger that I use with my Macbook Pro, I would likely find myself with a dead phone halfway through the day.
Most of my friends are experiencing similar issues (though no one has complained about battery problems). And we are not alone in our troubles: Nearly 50 percent of Tours are being returned to Sprint, some analysts estimates, and Verizon is experiencing even higher return rates. If these numbers are real — my personal experience gives me no reason to doubt the analysts — then RIM needs to look itself in the mirror. As a company that plans to take on Apple and the iPhone, it cannot be putting out substandard products onto the market.
It will be a long time before I trust BlackBerry products. As it stands now, I wouldn’t even recommend the Tour to my worst enemy. Maybe I should wait for Verizon to launch that rumored Motorola (s MOT) Android phone and get rid of BlackBerry all together.