BQ Aquaris X5 in-depth review - Got the X-Factor?

Manufactured by Spanish manufacturer BQ, the Aquaris is the first handset to be available exclusively from O2. Sleek looks and a good battery as well as the keen price point make it an excellent first device option. Read on to find out more...

 BQ Aquaris X5 Review - Got the X-Factor?

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,2/2/2016 11:09:51 PM


out of 10



out of 5

Look and feel


out of 5

Ease of use


out of 5



out of 5

Battery life


Attractive price | dual-SIM | expandable memory | very good battery | Security features on Cyanogen great


Under-powered camera | locked to O2 | performance is a bit hit/miss | Video and audio recording temperamental

- By Sunetra Chakravarti

I know the BQ Aquaris X5 is a value handset, but does it look 'value'?

The Aquaris X5 is one of the sleekest, most premium looking value handsets in the market. Sophisticated in design with a metal trim and a dark grey plastic backplate makes this another cheap iPhone knockoff. 

Just a shade taller than an iPhone 6S, the Aquaris X5 weighs in at 148grams, incidentally the same as a 'naked' Fairphone 2 and is lighter than an iPhone but packs enough heft for you not to forget that you are holding it.

BQ Aquaris X5 in-depth review

The two nano SIM cards go into the same tray on the left side of the phone while the SD card is in a separate tray on the right. 

There are no physical buttons on the phone but there are annotations on the glass surface for the Home button, Back and windows.

BQ Aquaris X5 in-depth review

The volume toggle is on the right, just above the power button and dual flash next to the camera on the top left on the back of the handset.

The backplate takes no fingerprints and the display is coated with something that thrawts it, but in my experience, fingerprints do get imprinted on the surface but are not that difficult to get rid of, like with the Samsung Galaxy S6.

How good is the display on the BQ Aquaris X5?

You shouldn't expect to have your socks blown off by the display and its clarity especially given the £179 price tag. However, it is not one to turn away from either. Full HD and a resolution of 1280X720 lift it up and viewing angles arent too shabby.

BQ Aquaris X5 in-depth review

The pixel density is on the lower side at 294ppi and it is discernable in the Youtube videos you might stream with them being not quite as sharp and clear as when streamed on a device with a higher resolution and pixel density.

And the camera?

The camera is for want of a better word: very bargain basement. You will not get the kind of images that you expect from a 13-MP camera on this. It tries to focus unendingly and results are not just super-fuzzy but also colour distorted. The stuffed toy is a dark green, almost emerald colour. Zoomed in, it is a dusty beige!


BQ Aquaris X5 in-depth review


BQ Aquaris X5 in-depth review

Even when zoomed out, the colours on the toy are not just distorted but the textured fabric just ends up looking fuzzy.

What's the processor and battery power like?

The Qualcomm 412 quad-core processor is just OK for day to day work. It was very laggy when I tried to switch between apps quickly and took an inordinate amount of time to open up apps like Facebook and Instagram.

The battery is pretty solid, however, at 2900mAH, it did very well during our battery test and the phone lost just 6% of charge when streaming at 100% brightness over 4G.

BQ Aquaris X5 verdict

A budget handset with a great battery, the Aquaris X5 boasts of good build quality and all the smarts Cyanogen OS has to offer. It is unfortunately let down by its tiny internal memory, unintuitive camera and the Android 5.1 operating system. The under-£200 market is bursting at the seams with quality options like the Honor 5X and ZTE Axon mini and the Aquaris X5 has an uphill battle, even though it might be smoothened out by being an O2 exclusive, including a keen tarriff and O2's 4G bundles and all the advantages of O2 Priority.

BQ Aquaris X5 in-depth review

BQ Aquaris X5 Specifications

Price: £179

Operating System: Cyanogen OS over Android™ 5.1 (Lollipop) 

Dimensions: 70.5 X 144.4 X 7.5mm

Weight: 148 g 

Resolution: 1280 × 720; 294ppi

Display: 5-inch, Full HD IPS display

Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon ™ 412 quad-core platform

Camera: 13-MP primary camera with OIS and f2.0; 5-MP selfie camera

Memory: 16 GB internal storage; 
expandable storage via MicroSD slot

Battery: 2900 mAh non-removable lithium-ion battery

Fingerprint sensor: No

Misc: Dual-SIM; connectivity 4G LTE/3G/2G
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n/ac)