Review: A More Affordable Q10

A good keyboard? A good buy?

Our score: 3/5
Reviewed: August 22, 2013 2:10 PM
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Published: August 22, 2013 2:10 PM
Updated: March 3, 2014 12:09 PM
By Florence Legrand
Translated by: Michelle Zanni
With Morgane Alzieu
Guillaume Letoupin
Axel Mendy
After the all-touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 then the BlackBerry Q10, which revamped the Canadian firm's famous keyboard, comes the BlackBerry Q5, a more affordable version of the Q10. Technically, it's not as robust, with a processor that's a little slower, a 5-Megapixel camera instead of the 8-Mpx snapper in the Q10, and half of the internal memory. Selling for around £300 SIM-free, the Q5 is marketed as a mid-range BB10 smartphone that wants to cosy up to a younger generation of Crackberry addicts who fancy a physical keyboard and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), BlackBerry's free instant messaging system.  

BlackBerry Q5 Review: screen and keyboard

The Q5 boasts tech specs such as a small 3.1", 720 x 720-pixel touchscreen display, which seems pretty small at a time when 5.4"-and-up screens reign supreme. On top of that there's a 5-Mpx camera, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor with a 1.2 GHz clock speed, and 2 GB of RAM. There's 8 GB of expandable memory and, unlike the Q10, there's a 2180 mAh non-removable battery. 

Is the Q5 a solid buy? Is it responsive? Is the keyboard just as good as the Q10? Does it take nice, clean photos? Keep on reading to find out more about this mid-range smartphone. 

BlackBerry Q5 Review: back casing


Design & Handling3/5


The Q5 isn't as elegant as the Q10, but it has the general look and feel of BlackBerry's new line of smartphones, while also evoking the style of the older Curve with its black matte plastic rear casing. Its sober design might be seen as plain and joyless by some, but others might prefer its minimalistic look. All in all, it has a good finish and handles quite nicely. As a higher-end device, the Q10 looks a tad more sophisticated, but that's only to be expected. 

BlackBerry Q5 Review: side view

Even though we're still sad that the Canadian phone-maker got rid of the trackball—you know, that little ball that helped you navigate through your BlackBerry or through text back in the days of the Bold—it's nice to see the return of the physical keyboard. Still, we have to admit that the Q10's keyboard is more comfortable than the one used here thanks to its nicely spaced keys with chiselled edges. That said, texts, tweets and e-mails are a joy to write with the Q5 and it's a snap to get the hang of—you won't be all fingers and thumbs. Even if you're used to all-touchscreen typing, you'll soon recognise just how comfortable it is use "real" keys. There's also an intuitive and effective predictive text function, giving you several words to choose from while typing.

BlackBerry Q5 Review: texting and keyboard
The Q5 resembles the Curve, while the Q10 is what replaced the Bold.

Display3/5


The Q5 may have the same sized 3.1" screen as the Q10, but BlackBerry switched out the AMOLED screen for an IPS LCD display in this lower-end model. Viewing angles remain wide, so screen readability isn't a problem. However, we can’t really say that colour fidelity is all that great with a Delta E of almost 10. It's been a long time since we've seen such poor colour fidelity, as most of today's smartphones have a Delta E below 5, with the best being below 3 (the Delta E should be as low as possible for accurate colours).

                BlackBerry Q5 Review: hubTuiles                                                                                                      

Contrast was measured at 1000:1 and screen brightness climbs to 399 cd/m². Even with really bright surroundings, the screen remains easily readable.          

Interface & Navigation4/5


For a full description of the new operating system, check out our in-depth article on BlackBerry 10 OS: The Revolution We've All Been Waiting For? 

              WebBlackBerry Q5 Review: web and calls                                       

BlackBerry completely overhauled its OS with BB10, adding new touch gestures and borrowing things here and there from iOS, Android and especially from Windows Phone 8 with its constant connectivity and dynamic features. The BB10's nerve centre is the Hub, a screen that's accessible from anywhere featuring all your notifications (e-mail, text messages, Facebook updates, Twitter, calls and BBMs) on one handy page.  

                                       
              BlackBerry Q5 Review: setup and settingsSwap Q5


Like the Q10, the operating system runs very well, despite a processor that's isn't as swift. Alternating between the touchscreen and keyboard is smooth and fluid and we didn't notice any snags. Appaholics looking for the latest must-have apps, Instagram or the hottest mobile games will be disappointed with App World, which doesn't yet have all of the best-sellers. 

              BlackBerry Q5 Review: more settings22

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The Q5's camera does the bare minimum. And it doesn't even do a very good job of that. Pictures aren't sharp, clean or crisp, and there's an abundance of noise in darker areas. Compared with the Z10 and the Q10, the Q5 is nowhere near on par. Plus, put up against the competition, the Q5's camera takes photos that aren't always usable, even if they're just for Facebook or e-mails. The shots aren't clean and there tends to be heavy moiré effects or wavy patterns of colour on or around objects. 

BlackBerry Q5 Review: camera
BlackBerry Q5 Review: camera test


Multimedia3/5


If you can handle watching films and TV shows on a square screen, the video player works just as well as any Samsung smartphone in terms of file format support. In fact, the Q5 can play just about any format you throw at it.  

              BlackBerry Q5 Review: NFCBBM      

The headphone output is clean and has a good dynamic range. The built-in speakers are located on the lower part of the mobile so you can amplify the sound with your hand. Sound quality is respectable for this type of device, but there's a fair amount of saturation when you turn up the volume. However, we already noticed this with the Z10 and Q10.  

Battery Life3/5


The Q10's battery holds up a little better than the Z10, which doesn't exactly shine in terms of battery life, but the Q5 does slightly better still. Actually, with reasonable usage you can go a entire day without having to reach for the charger. But, just like its predecessors, the Q5's battery can drain pretty quickly even when it's been in Airplane Mode for a few hours. Luckily, the phone is fast to charge, as it only takes two hours to fill up the battery. 
3/5 BlackBerry Q5 DigitalVersus 2013-08-22 15:10:00

Pros

  • Design and handling
  • Screen quality
  • Overall responsive OS
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Photo quality
  • Web browsing and videos aren't comfortable on a small, square screen
  • Non-removable battery, unlike the Q10

Conclusion

The BlackBerry Q5 is meant for smartphone textaholics—whatever their drug of choice (Facebook, text messaging or BBM)—and for those who want a pocket mobile with decent battery life. However, the multimedia side of things doesn't shine as brightly, with inaccurate colour reproduction and a mediocre camera. Sure, the Q10 is more expensive, but it also performs better overall.

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