BlackBerry is continuing the roll out of its BlackBerry 10 platform with the Q5, a compact handset which offers a more affordable alternative to the high-end duo of the Q10 and Z10. While the revamped OS certainly suits the business users for whom the Canadian firm has long catered, there is plenty for the avid text message sender and anyone who regularly chats on social networks. So is the Q5 a cost-effective way into BlackBerry 10?
- 1.2GHz dual-core processor
- 3.1-inch LCD display
- 8GB internal storage
- 5MP camera
- 10.8mm thick
- 120g weight
- BlackBerry 10
- 2180mAh battery
Design and Build
The Q5 has a fantastic form factor that is ideal for quick, one-handed use and takes up far less space than some large high-end handsets. Little bigger than an iPhone and far smaller than the monster flagships from Samsung and Sony, this device is compact and solidly built.
BlackBerry has fitted the handset with a smooth, curved backplate that feels far better than the Kevlar material seen on the Q10 giving the phone a stylish look, something which suits the range of colours in which it is available.
Harking back to the hugely popular BlackBerry handsets of old, the Q5 has a physical QWERTY keypad with smooth, rounded keys, and while small they are very easy to use without making mistakes. The keypad is ideal for quickly tapping out messages and social network updates.
With only a 3.1-inch display, the BlackBerry Q5 is never going to dazzle anyone with its visual prowess and it cannot match the performance seen on handsets like the Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Nevertheless, the Q5 uses what it has well and while the display is not particularly bright it is crisp and clear, making a good job of showing off the BB10 user interface.
Videos do not look great when shown on the handset but this really is due to the lack of screen space rather than any failings in the quality of the display itself. Equally, the Q5 is not the best for showing photos, but there are few problems caused with the rest of the handset’s software and there is enough space to make effective use of its functions.
Under the Hood
BlackBerry has so far shied away from including quad-core processors in its BlackBerry 10 devices, something which would have driven the price of the Q5 up way beyond its current, affordable level. Instead, there is a dual-core, 1.2GHz chip which, while a distinctly mid-range offering, is more than enough to do whatever the handset asks of it.
Performance is fluid and free of hold ups and while some apps and games can a take a few seconds longer to load than we would like there is little to complain about in the way that the Q5 works.
As the great majority of a handset’s power is spent on its display, the Q5 has a distinct advantage with its small screen. We certainly noticed that the Q5 lasts a day of moderate use on one charge and can even keep running into a second day. This usage includes browsing online, downloading some apps and frequent messaging, meaning that the Q5 can hold up to the kind of regular, everyday use that many people will want it to.
Operating System and User Interface
BlackBerry 10 has a lot to offer to someone who sends lots of messages, be they texts, emails or social updates, and the BlackBerry Hub is a brilliant one stop shop from which all of this can be done. Beyond that, the sliding and swiping interface that runs through the OS is very easy to use once you get the hang of it and the brilliant feature that replaces the tapping of a home key with an upwards swipe from the bottom of the screen should be the envy of every other platform.
Camera and Video
The 5 megapixel camera is ideal for taking quick snaps when out and about and while there is nothing to match the likes of the Nokia Lumia 925 images do come out clearly. Capturing photos can be a little difficult due to the small screen, something which also happens when recording video, but there’s enough room to get the kind of picture that you can quickly share on Facebook or Twitter.
BlackBerry’s Time Shift feature is also in place allowing you to capture a short clip and select the best frame before adjusting particular parts of the image. Again, the small display makes it a little hard to edit images but with some effort you can get decent results.
Performance and Verdict
In terms of performance and power the BlackBerry Q5 doesn’t lag too far behind its high-end cousins and offers a much more affordable way of getting your hands on the BlackBerry 10 platform. Anyone who sends a lot of texts and written messages from their smartphone would be wise to take a look at this as an alternative to a mid-range Android, and it could also appeal to anyone who simply longs for the familiar BlackBerry form factor of old.
With revamped software and a focus on typing and sending messages the BlackBerry Q5 really sees the Canadian firm mixing what it does together in one convenient package.