BlackBerry Q5 full review

BlackBerry Q5

The Q5 looks much like the BlackBerry Q10 but, in a nutshell, minus the style. (For the touchscreen alternative, see BlackBerry Z10 review.)

It has that iconic BlackBerry smartphone look with a square screen situated above the buttoned keyboard. One of the only clues that tells us it's a modern BlackBerry phone running BlackBerry 10 OS is the absence of any trackpad or thumbstick.

See also: BlackBerry up for sale: 5 reasons it went wrong.

The design is distinctly plain in black finish, perhaps less so for the silver and red models. A £330 mid-range price tag doesn't entirely match the plastic and the cheap feel which the Q5 imparts to the touch. That's not to say it feels entirely budget, but it doesn't have anything even slightly suggesting ‘premium' either.

Although it may look and feel like it does, the rear cover does not come off – the SIM and microSD card slots are actually under a flap found on the side. The back of the Q5 also unclipped itself at one corner all too easily for our liking. Build quality is satisfactory, but not great considering its price.

BlackBerry Q5: Hardware and performance

A 1.2 GHz dual-core processor is quite typical for a mid-range smartphone, while 2 GB of memory is double the amount we expected. Interface performance is generally excellent with the Q5 showing little sign of lag. BlackBerry 10 is a smooth operating system.

Our usual benchmark tests aren't available for the OS but as we say, from a user perspective, the phone performed well. We were able to run the SunSpider 1.0 test on the built-in browser and the Q5 did very well with a JavaScript completion time of 1079 ms.

The Q5 continues to surprise with similar screen specifications as its more expensive brother, the Q10. It has a 3.1in touchscreen with a respectable resolution of 720 x 720 pixels. The fact that it's an IPS LCD display compared to SuperAMOLED is of no bother.

It's the size of the screen which you'll want to bear in mind here, especially if you're switching from a full-touchscreen phone. We would often quit out of apps by going too close to the bottom of the screen when scrolling down a page or a list.

Built-in flash storage is limited with only 8 GB available. BlackBerry does provide a microSDHC card slot though for up to 32GB more.

The BlackBerry Q5 has some useful if now commonplace tech features on-board including 4G LTE support, 11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4 and NFC. See also: what's the best BlackBerry?

BlackBerry Q5

BlackBerry Q5: Cameras

Some of the Q5's hardware may punche above its weight, but the cameras are distinctly average. The 5 Mp rear-facing camera doesn't take very impressive photos or video, even if it does have BlackBerry's handy Time Shift feature which allows you to move parts of a photo backwards or forwards through time.

The front-facing 2 Mp camera provided a good image which will come in handy for BBM Video chats and similar. Skype is also available for the BlackBerry 10 platform.

BlackBerry Q5: Software

As we've mentioned, BlackBerry 10 is a smooth operating system. There's a lot to like about it including snappy gesture-based navigation – although we had an issue with that due to the small screen as described – and the all-in-one Hub for combining email accounts with social media.

The BlackBerry Hub is always just a swipe away, no matter where you are in the OS or what you're doing. Another good feature of BlackBerry 10 is the on-screen keyboard and its clever predictions, although this doesn't apply of course to the Q5 because of its physical alternative.

We like BlackBerry 10, however there's a but; and it's a big one. BlackBerry World is severely lacking in app selection when compared to Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store. BlackBerry's latest OS launched at the beginning of 2013 but the situation hasn't really improved.

Of course there are some big names like Facebook, Twitter, BBC iPlayer but the list of missing apps is far bigger: Netflix, LoveFilm, BT Sport, Starbucks, eBay and Spotify to name just a few.

You can also bet good money that any new apps which are made will be targeted primarily at iOS then Android.

BlackBerry Q5: Battery life

The Q5 got us easily though a day of normal, regular use. We had plenty of juice left at the end of the day – around two thirds – so we were confident about a full second day too.

However, that confidence may have been misplace. The 8 Wh non-removable battery lost a fair amount of power while on standby overnight which is unusual. We just about got to lunchtime on the second day, with light usage, before the battery expired completely.

It's a good effort compared to some handsets but we were hoping for more after the strong performance on the first day. See also: The 8 best smartphones: What's the best phone you can buy in 2013?


BlackBerry Q5: Specs

  • 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor
  • 3.1in IPS LCD touchscreen (720 x 720, 329ppi)
  • BlackBerry 10.1 operating system
  • GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100MHz
  • 4G LTE 800/900/1800/2600MHz
  • Micro-SIM
  • Qwerty keypad
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 8 GB internal storage (5GB available)
  • microSDHC card slot (up to 32GB)
  • 5 Mp rear camera with LED flash (1080p video)
  • 2 Mp front camera (720p video)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • NFC
  • A-GPS
  • microUSB
  • 8 Wh removable lithium battery
  • 66 x 120 x 10.8 mm
  • 120 g

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