Review of BlackBerry Q5:
BlackBerry was known for premium enterprise segment devices but company started to lose its loyal users with the arrival of Android, iOS and Windows phones that offered a lot more. BlackBerry tried to revive its success by launching BlackBerry 10 OS and a new line of smartphones running on BB10 that included BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 but it received a mixed response. So, a midrange package with BB10 OS in a classic messenger form factor and touchscreen with the iconic keyboard was on the BlackBerry’s to-do-list. BlackBerry Q5 was offered on an affordable price that came with the promise of delivering the same classic BlackBerry experience. It slides in below the fully touchscreen of BlackBerry Z10 and its keyboard brethren the BlackBerry Q10, perhaps in a vague attempt to catch the eye of the Curve generation. But is it really cheap enough to convert those upgrading from old BlackBerry OS 7 handsets and can bring the fight to Android? Let’s find out in our Full review of BlackBerry Q5.
Design, Build Quality and Handling:
BlackBerry Q5 is an affordable version of BlackBerry Q10 and BlackBerry had to make some cost-cutting changes. It certainly lacks the sophistication of BlackBerry Q10 but its decent enough. The QWERTY keyboard has the same four row layout but it has typical Curve styling, with smaller but better spaced keys. The keys offer tactile feedback and are large enough and offer great typing experience. Just like the Q10, Q5 misses the hardware call keys and trackpad but redesigned OS does well without it and there are many shortcuts on the keyboard that should be familiar with experienced BlackBerry users. It has a clean and simple design but it doesn’t look good as Q10. The Q5 looks plastickier, which is ok since BlackBerry’s aim was to cut cost. The Front has 3.1” Display and 35 keys keyboard. The back panel is immune to fingerprints and nicely curved, that provides a solid and comfortable handling. The back cover is non-removable. Overall, it is a well built device.
BlackBerry Q5 has same design pattern of Q10. It also has a square screen that measure 3.1 inch on the diagonal and 35 keys keyboard on the front panel. On the top of the display, you’ll spot the earpiece, proximity sensor, the traditional Status LED (for notifications) and the 2MP front-facing camera. Q5 has more screen bezel at the bottom and the BlackBerry logo is between the display and the keyboard. On the right side of the device, there are Volume keys separated by a small pause/mute button. On the left side, there is microSD card slot and microSIM card slot covered by a plastic flap and an uncovered microUSB port. The top of the device features 3.5mm audio jack, Power key and secondary microphone. On the bottom of the device, there is loudspeaker grille and mouthpiece. The non-removable back cover sports 5MP Primary camera with LED Flash on top left corner and BB logo in the center and the 2180mAh battery is non-removable.
BlackBerry Q5 has 3.1 inch 720p (720x720p) IPS LCD Display, having pixel density of 328ppi. The Display is sharp and crisp, colours look punchy and screen is viewable at even wide angles. The images, texts and videos appear quite sharp and clear. The contrast ratio is good and sunlight legibility is average that makes it readable in the sunlight. The 3.1” Display isn’t ideal for watching videos and if you use phone primarily for multimedia content then it’s not great for that. There is no Corning Gorilla Glass protection to prevent it from scratches and impacts on the front panel.
BlackBerry Q5 has a non-removable 2180mAh Li-Ion Battery and the battery life is really impressive. It gives you 336hrs of Stand-By on 3G, up to 12-13 hours of 3G Talk time, up to 10 hours of web browsing and 12 hours of video playback. It could last up to 24-26 hours on moderate usage. The small screen and energy efficient chipset should get the credit for impressive performance of battery. Its decent battery life will get you through an entire working day without reaching for the charger.
BlackBerry Q5 also runs on BlackBerry OS 10.1 (upgradable to 10.2.1). BlackBerry made some changes in the operating system in order to add support for QWERTY keyboard; just like the Q10 and also to include features that make full use of the hardware. BB10.1 also relies on swipe gestures. The only noticeable difference in Q5’s OS is switch to light theme as Q10’s OS has a dark theme. BlackBerry 10.1 OS brings some optimizations and some new features that include- Instant Action, PIN-to-PIN messaging, customizable notifications, click a number to call, HDR stills. The UI is divided in Hub, Active pane and App panel. A pane could hold up to eight “active frames”, each active frame is a thumbnail of a running app. Instant action is sort of an advanced universal search with full actionable commands and making the full use of the keyboard. When you’ll type a word like “Q5”, it’ll give you appropriate suggestions that include sending emails, tweets, messages and other content that features “Q5” word. BB10.1 offers up to 200 shortcuts on keyboard like “N” for next, “P” for previous, “T” to go on top, “B” to go on top of the list and “R” to reload any page. You can also unlock the phone by swiping up from the bottom of the display. You can also switch between apps with the same swipe up gesture. There is also a circular cursor too. Reminder app helps you in setting the reminder and remembering notes etc. BlackBerry 10.1 OS also offers to customise notifications for each app. “Peek” allows you to check on incoming messages and notifications with minimum interruptions. BlackBerry Hub shows a list of messages with an icon that indicates the service (SMS, BBM, Twitter, Facebook, calls and voicemails etc.). BlackBerry Balance feature splits the apps in two- personal and work apps and it only works when BlackBerry Enterprise service is enabled. Files under work apps are secured by AE256 encryption and these cannot be accessed from personal apps. BBM messenger allows you to exchange text messages, voice chats and send multimedia content. BBM Video feature shows the footage from front-camera and also streams the content of its own screen. It has all features of BlackBerry OS 10 that includes Telephone book, Gallery, File Manager, Full-featured Office app, Calendar etc. The video playback is smooth but the screen is not fit for it. The Music player is quite good too but there’s no equalizer. BlackBerry’s App ecosystem BlackBerry World still misses some key applications and BlackBerry Maps are not reliable.
BlackBerry Q5 is powered by 1.2GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm S4 processor and 2GB of RAM. It has 8GB of internal storage expandable up to 32GB via microSD card. BlackBerry 10.1 and impressive hardware gives you an impressive performance. The touch responsiveness is good and there is no glitch or lag in multitasking, switching between apps and navigating through the home screens between the hub, active pane and app panel. There is no lag or delay in opening the apps, navigating the menu. FULL HD Video playback is quite smooth and graphically intense games run pretty smoothly but you’ll notice frame drops and stutter time to time. The iconic QWERTY keyboard on the front delivers the classic typing experience. Call quality is great and signal reception is quite good too. The Audio Output quality is impressive; sound is clear and loud with no distortion.
BlackBerry Q5 has 5MP Primary Camera with LED Flash and 2MP Secondary Camera. The Camera App UI is simple and offers three modes – Still, Video and Time shift. In Still mode you can pick between Normal, Stabilization, HDR and Burst Mode but there’s no Panorama Mode. You can also choose in between various scene modes- Auto, Action, Whiteboard, Beach and Snow. You also get the shooting mode toggle here. A Menu key offers settings for – switching between front/back camera and you can also choose and change the image aspect ratios. The Burst shots are clicked at 5MP resolution. The clicked pictures contain fine details but there’s noise. The colours are oversaturated and inaccurate, saturation isn’t balanced. Autofocus isn’t fast. It takes good quality shots in daylight and good indoor lighting conditions. Time shift mode allows you to click a series of pictures and choose the best shot in it.
The 8MP Primary Camera can shoot 1080p Videos @30fps and 720p Videos too. The captured videos are good, audio is clear, quality is decent, colours are bit oversaturated but there’s no visible noise. The 2MP Secondary Camera can shoot 720p videos. It is ideal for video chats and clicking self-portraits (selfies).
BlackBerry Q5 covers all the connectivity ground but there are five different versions that support different 3G bands. All versions have Quad-Band 2G support, Quad-Band 3G Support (DV-HSPA+). In Local connectivity, it has Wi-Fi connectivity b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, microUSB 2.0 port. BlackBerry Q5 can also create and read QR codes. You can also connect it PC using BlackBerry Link- PC suite for Q5.
So, Overall the BlackBerry Q5 is a good smartphone equipped with a great physical keyboard. Despite being a mid-ranger, Q5 offers all major features of an operating system that’s extremely responsive. Q5’s initial pricing was kind of a letdown but BlackBerry revised the pricing and now it comes with a reasonable tag. BlackBerry Q5 is an alternative for users who don’t want to spend a lot of money but still they want the classic BlackBerry experience with an iconic keyboard. It’s basically for Blackberry fans looking for a cheaper alternative to Q10. If you want to upgrade from a BB 7 device without spending a lot of money then Q5 is definitely a great choice. BlackBerry Q5 is for people who prioritize messaging above everything including apps and customizations but if you use your phone for multimedia playback and you want a device with a bigger feature set, more powerful hardware and a better app ecosystem then BlackBerry Q5 is not for you.
Blackberry Q5 Rivals:
Asus ZenFone 5
Micromax Canvas Nitro A310
Sony Xperia ZR
Xolo 8X 1000
Nokia Lumia 730
Huawei Ascend G700
Panasonic Eluga U