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BlackBerry Q5 expert review

Agent Collins evaluates the new mid-level BlackBerry Q5 in our expert review. With the positive reviews of the recently released top end Z10 and Q10 phones in mind, read on to find how the Q5 compares.

Pros

  • QWERTY keyboard is strong performer
  • Expandable memory
  • Touch screen is vivid and responsive

Cons

  • Non-removable battery
  • Low resolution camera left us wanting
BlackBerry Q5 - 267 - 1
The latest in the line of QWERTY keyboard BB10 devices - the BlackBerry Q5

Design - BlackBerry Q5

My first impression of the Q5 was the high quality build; this was purely down to how solid the device felt and the balanced weight. BlackBerry have achieved this by taking what they have done right previously, and adding a few new features in to the mix;

  • Uni-body design
  • Power button on top of the device
  • Loudspeaker on bottom
  • Revised QWERTY keyboard

Dimensions

The size of the Q5 is one of the key features that sets it apart from older BlackBerry devices. Coming in at 120 x 66mm, the Q5 is the exact same size as the Q10 although it does feel smaller in my hand. This could be due to the fact that it is lighter, coming in at 120 grams.

Build and Inputs

BlackBerry Q5 - 4_3 - 3
The uni-body construction feels solid and the keyboard spacing is welcome

The Q5 is the first BlackBerry to be a uni-body device, meaning you are unable to remove the battery. Due to this the SIM card and Micro SD slots are located on the left side under a flap, the power button and audio jacks are located on the top whilst the volume buttons are on the right-hand side of the phone. The loudspeaker on the Q5 is located on the bottom of the device, which I found to be quite annoying as all audio was firing directly down at the floor making it relatively difficult to hear.

The QWERTY keyboard has always been a huge part of BlackBerry devices and is a key feature that BlackBerry users look for when picking up their device. Luckily the Q5 has improved on this over the previous Curve devices. The main change I have noticed is more spacing between the buttons meaning that people with large hands, such as myself, are actually able to type with ease and speed.

Hardware - BlackBerry Q5

BlackBerry Q5 - 4_3 - 4
The Q5's strong internal specs make the OS silky smooth to use

BlackBerry has put some serious effort in with its latest devices, and the Q5 offers up a very similar hardware package to the Q10. The specification includes:

  • Dual-Core 1.2GHz Snapdragon Processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8GB Internal Storage

When powering on the Q5 for the first time I was greeted by the usual setup wizard: this took a bit longer than I was expecting, but wasn’t a problem. Once I had gone through the wizard I decided to put the Q5 to the test and launch all of the applications in quick succession. I have to admit I was impressed at its performance in my load test.

This is due to the 2GB of RAM which I thought wouldn’t play a huge part in such a light and simple OS, but has proven me wrong. The Q5 was able to switch between apps seamlessly and with ease, and I experienced no slow down at all. BlackBerry has only added 8GB of internal memory into the Q5 but have also added in a Micro SD slot capable of taking up to a 32GB SD card to store all of your favourite content on.

Battery Life and Charging

The Q5s battery has a large capacity coming in at 2180mAh, which is even higher than the Q10. With heavy use I would expect to see this battery last for a working day. Charging the Q5 through the mains will take around 2-3 hours and around 5-6 hours using the USB cable plugged into a computer.

Unfortunately I have found no power saving feature in the settings, which is slightly disappointing as it is always nice to have a way to save battery when you are starting to run low on juice.

Connectivity

BlackBerry has crammed a whole host of connectivity features in to the Q5, all of which you would usually expect to see in top end devices, but are becoming increasingly common amongst mid-range devices. The usual suspects, WiFi and Bluetooth, are there, but it is the addition of LTE 4G and NFC which are a welcome surprise.

Camera

The Q5 is host to a 5 mega-pixel camera that is capable of recording 1080p full HD video and a 2 mega-pixel front facing camera capable of recording 720p HD video.

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We weren't blow away by the BB Q5's camera quality but for quick snaps it does the job nicely

The rear camera provides clear photos although at times they lack in sharpness. This could be due to the fact that I am using a prototype device, but the colours are vivid and accurate. I did notice that it struggled to focus when taking images and I found no manual way of focusing the device without snapping an image instantly.

The quality of video the rear camera produced was extremely impressive and managed to capture each individual detail whilst maintaining stability when moving.

The 2 mega-pixel front camera managed to capture every detail clearly; in fact it was almost as clear as the rear camera which was unexpected. Also featured is BlackBerry’s Time Shift feature, this allows you to cycle through people’s faces at different points to ensure the perfect shot every time, this means no more blinking photos – way-hey!

Screen

The Q5 has joined the same ranks as the Q10 in terms of screen quality and size, both holding similar specs, which are:

  • 3.1-inch LCD display
  • 720 x 720 resolution
  • 328ppi (Pixels per inch)

The main difference between these phones is that the Q5 hosts an LCD display whereas the Q10 has a super AMOLED display, although I personally didn’t see a huge difference between the two. The 3.1-inch screen with a resolution of 720 x 720 is absolutely beautiful and provides a vivid and colourful display no matter what content is on screen.

Software - BlackBerry Q5

BlackBerry Q5 - 4_3 - 12
BB OS10 has some strong software on board including the famous BBM

The Q5 is BlackBerry’s second device to come preloaded with version 10.1 of its OS, which has seen some improvement over the version we saw come with the Z10. Some unique features only available on BlackBerry 10 include:

  • BlackBerry Hub
  • Instant Action
  • App World
  • Skype
  • Docs to Go

The BlackBerry Hub is now the home of all of your messaging and email needs and is easily accessible using the new Peak and Flow feature. Peak and Flow allows you to navigate to your BlackBerry Hub by swiping up from the BlackBerry logo at the bottom of the screen and swiping to the right. Once the BlackBerry Hub is open you gain access to your BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), text messages, email inboxes, notifications and calls. Here you have the ability to keep in touch with all friends and family members easily and it is all stored in one place. Messaging has never been so easy!

Instant Action is a feature only found on BlackBerry devices with a keyboard and allows you to type from your home screen to gain quick access to any apps or content stored on your device, for instance, if you were to type in ‘Photos’ your photo album would pop up. This feature proved itself to be extremely handy when trying to navigate around the Q5.

BlackBerry has drastically improved the App World since its previous devices, although it still isn’t host to a huge variety of apps just yet. You will have access to the likes of Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and more. Skype on the BlackBerry Q5 provides you with three months of free international calls, which to me is an intriguing deal.

BlackBerry devices have always been used for business round the world, mainly for their security. Now we can add easy document editing thanks to Docs to Go. Docs to Go enables you to edit Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents with ease and while on the run. The keyboard makes this especially easy as you are able to type whole documents without too much effort.

Who is this phone for?

BlackBerry Q5 - 4_3 - 2
The QWERTY and touchscreen system works well on the Q5

The BlackBerry Q5 is designed primarily for the social enthusiasts, the coupling of the touch screen and QWERTY keyboard make this the perfect device for messaging and keeping up to date with family and friends by using the BlackBerry Hub. The ability to access all messaging services in one place and from any application makes it a must have. Combined with the security that Blackberry devices host, it is the perfect phone for someone who is running or working for a business and wishes to keep all of their information as secure as possible. The improvements in hardware over previous BlackBerry devices allows for a much faster and unique experience through Blackberry 10 with the new and improved home screen and ability to open and close apps with a simple gesture.

Verdict

BlackBerry Q5 - 4_3 - 5
The Q5 is a strong candidate for anyone who wants to get things done on their mobile

I have to hand it to BlackBerry - they have created an outstanding device that is capable of taking on everyday tasks quickly and efficiently. The improved keyboard makes this phone a winner for me as I am now able to type using the keyboard with my huge hands and with the additional touch screen and gestures I wouldn’t feel as lost when coming from a full touch screen device to a hybrid.

This device is all a BlackBerry should be and I believe will help to bring their name back on to the map. I give this device a 7/10. Although it is a very good device, its more expensive older brother the Q10 still stands out for me more, but considering the difference in price, they weigh out quite evenly in my books. I am impressed with what BlackBerry has produced recently, and I am looking forward to see what they will come up with next.

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