BlackBerry Q5 in-depth review - BlackBerry’s Q5 is its most affordable QWERTY handset, but still proves too pricey compared to many rivals

Look and feel

The BlackBerry Q5 loses a lot of the elegance of the BlackBerry Q10, with a basic matt plastic design that we’d expect on a cheaper handset.

 

Ease of Use

The touchscreen may be compact but the square aspect ratio and high resolution means browsing the web isn’t a chore. It’s great to see BlackBerry can still produce an awesome QWERTY keyboard too.

 

Features

The Q5 has cut-down features compared to the Q10, although you still get 4G LTE and NFC support. Sadly the camera doesn’t stand up to similarly-priced rivals, and the phone is too expensive for what you get.

 

Performance

The dual-core processor can handle apps, games and everything else you throw at it.

 

Battery life

You’ll get a full day of life even with intensive use and eight hours of non-stop video streaming, a great effort.

 BlackBerry Q5 Review - BlackBerry’s Q5 is its most affordable QWERTY handset, but still proves too pricey compared to many rivals
3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,7/1/2013 9:34:30 AM

8

out of 10

Performance

4

out of 5

Look and feel

7

out of 5

Ease of use

6

out of 5

Features

10

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Sharp display; Great QWERTY keyboard; NFC and 4G support

Cons:

Uninspired design; Questionable value; Camera merely fine; Lack of apps

We’re fans of BlackBerry’s Q10 handset, which brought back the time-honoured QWERTY keyboard and combined it with the swishy new BB OS 10. Unfortunately its £550 price tag is beyond the reach of most consumers, hence BlackBerry’s swift and more affordable follow-up, the BlackBerry Q5. On paper, the main differences are a slightly slower processor, half of the storage space (8GB rather than 16GB) and a cut-back camera (Five megapixels replacing the Q10’s eight megapixel lens). However, the Q5 also strips away some of that desirable Q10 style, a real shame considering the not-quite-budget price of £350.

 

BlackBerry Q5 review

 

Tepid design

 

While the BlackBerry Q10 sports a solid, premium design that instantly appeals, the BlackBerry Q5 doesn’t look or feel as high quality as we’d hoped.  The general layout is the same, including a 3.1-inch screen and full QWERTY keyboard housed on the front. However, while the Q10 had a removable back for changing the battery, the Q5 is all stuck together, with a covered slot on the left edge for your SIM card and Micro SD memory card.

 

The design of the BlackBerry Q5 isn’t as attractive as the Q10, with the sleek silver bands and bevelled rear replaced by a plain plastic finish. Considering rivals such as Nokia put out great-looking phones for half the price, we’re not sure why BlackBerry has made this sacrifice. There are also some weak joins, and the flap that covers the card slots actually bends inwards with a pop when pushed.

 

BlackBerry Q5 review

 

Sharp screen

 

Thankfully the 3.1-inch touchscreen is just as sharp, with a 720 x 720 pixel resolution that makes images and websites look impressively crisp. The BlackBerry Q5’s screen is noticeably brighter than the Q10’s, so you won’t be squinting in the glare of the sun, and we had no trouble with responsiveness when navigating websites and so on. That square aspect ratio is well suited to web browsing and messing around with apps, but video plays in a letterbox window, and sitting through an entire movie on the compact screen may well give you a headache. The Q5 also lacks the Q10’s bottom speaker, so you’ll need to stick in some earphones to enjoy decent audio power and performance.

 

BlackBerry Q5 review

 

The dual-core processor may be cut down compared to the BlackBerry Q10’s (1.2GHz rather than 1.5GHz), but it still handles BB OS 10.1 just fine. Apps load up almost as quick and run smoothly, helped by the generous 2GB of RAM. Battery life is tremendous, seeing you through a full day without issue and around eight hours of video playback. You also get the exact same BB OS features as before, with 4G LTE and NFC both supported.

 

BlackBerry Q5 review

 

Snap happy

 

The final difference between the two QWERTY handsets is the camera. While the BlackBerry Q10 rocked an eight megapixel lens, the Q5 opts for a more modest five megapixel snapper. We took it out around town and for the most part we’re happy with the results. Some of our shots had a hazy finish, and close-ups often suffered from poor focus, but for general everyday snaps the BlackBerry Q5 performs. You still get the same great BlackBerry features such as Time Lapse mode too. Unfortunately the Q5’s camera doesn’t capture the rich colours of the Sony Xperia SP’s lens, nor is it as sharp and flexible as the Nokia 720’s, so you can get much better shooters for the same price or less.

 

BlackBerry Q5 review

 

Conclusion

 

While it’s nice that BlackBerry has put out a mid-range QWERTY handset, given the Q10’s rather steep asking price, we can’t help but feel that it’s still too expensive. The dinky screen is sharp and satisfying and you still get some great features such as NFC, 4G support and a capable camera, but the lacklustre design and strong competition from cheaper rivals makes it a hard recommendation.