|Style & Handling|
|Ease Of Use|
Pros: Supports 4G and NFC, Crisp screen, excellent QWERTY keyboard.
Cons: Plasticky, cheap case, pricey for level of features, weak camera, limited apps.
Verdict: If you need a mobile with a QWERTY keyboard, but can’t afford a Blackberry Q10, this is a good compromise. Less pricey but still with 4G and NFC. Lacks features though compared to similar priced phones.
Anyone would be hard pressed not to like the Blackberry Q10 4G handset. You can’t get a proper, QWERTY keyboard anywhere else, not like the ones made and refined by Blackberry. However, with all the features and sparkly new BlackBerry OS, it cost £550, making it hideously expensive for most of us. So BlackBerry has quickly stepped up with a cut-down, cut-price 4G version, the BlackBerry Q5.
Spec-wise, the Q5’s processor is a little slower compared to its big sibling, and you only get 8GB storage instead of 16GB. BlackBerry has also gone for a cheaper camera, with just 5-megapixels, instead of the 8-megapixels on the Q10. The cutbacks are on the exterior too. The Q5 has none of the elegance of the Q10. It might be more affordable but it isn’t a budget handset and we’d expect a better level of styling.
When using super fast 4G you want a super fast handset. The Q5 doesn’t disappoint. It handles BB OS 10.1, apps, and other features with ease even though the dual-core processor is a cut-down version of what you get in the Q10. The processor is supported by an ample 2GB of RAM.
A major plus for any 4G handset is a good battery life, and here the Q5 also excels. Eight hours of video, and a full day between charges with all other use.
Where the Q10 4G handset had a high-end design that was highly desirable, the Q5 feels bargain basement and low quality. This is a more affordable phone, but it still isn’t at the budget end of the market and it shouldn’t feel cheap. It has a 3.1-inch screen, with the full QWERTY keyboard. There’s no removable battery – SIM card and Micro SD memory card slot are on the left side.
The BlackBerry Q5 has a plain, matt plastic case. It is confusing as to why BlackBerry has done this when firms like Nokia pump out stylish, attractive handsets for half the price. The build felt a little flimsy in places, and the cover over the slots was not as robust as we’d expect.
The BlackBerry Q5 has a crisp, 3.1-inch touch screen. Something that always go well when coupled with 4G support. We were impressed with how excellently sharp images are displayed in its 720x720 pixel resolution. It is a bright screen as well, making it easier to view outdoors, and it is also impressively responsive when browsing websites, using apps, and playing games. It has a square aspect ratio, which makes viewing web pages more comfortable. This is also really good for game play. Video does appear in letterbox form and some people have a strong aversion to those black bars at the top and bottom. It also makes the moving images smaller, and as the screen is already compact, you may not want to watch full length movies. Audio quality isn’t as good as the Q10 – there’s no bottom speaker. But it is fine when using headphones.
Don’t expect too much from this 4G handset’s camera though. The Q10 had an impressive 8-megapixel camera. But the Q5 only has 5-megapixels. Mostly you’ll be happy with the shots it takes. But focus isn’t great, and picture quality isn’t always as good as we’d like. Similar 4G handsets have a better, richer colour capture, and take better close ups too. There are all the same camera features as on the more expensive 4G handset, such as Time Lapse Mode.
There’s no faulting the QWERTY keyboard, and if you really love these then that might be worth the price of the Q5 alone. Overall though, we question the price tag. Cheaper 4G handsets have more style, while similar priced 4G phones have a bigger screen, more features, and a better camera, while being just as fast.