With the higher-end Z10 and Q10 handsets out of the way, BlackBerry is now focusing on the more affordable range of their BlackBerry 10 based products. Today, we take a look at their first such model – the BlackBerry Q5. Think of the Q5 as the first model replacing the Curve line of handsets from BlackBerry.
The Q5 has a slightly more squarish look than the Q10 which is the higher-end BB10 based QWERTY device from BlackBerry. Measuring 120 x 66 x 10.8 mm, the Q5 is just a tad bit taller and thicker than the Q10 but weighs significantly less at 120g. On the left you have the USB port placed right on top which makes it easier to talk on the device when it is connected to the charger or the PC. Below that, you have slots for microSD and microSIM cards hidden by a pop out door. The right side features the convenience and volume keys while the on the top resides the 3.5mm jack and the power/lock button. Watch our unboxing video for a quick look on the device.
One thing that immediately strikes you about the Q5 is that the back cover does not feel that great and, at least on the black version, showed finger marks all over. This is also the first BlackBerry that does not have the back cover come off meaning you can no longer remove the battery. Hopefully that will finally put an end to battery-pulls. Also, you no longer need to power down your BlackBerry to change SIM cards. I was able to hot swap my SIM card without any issue.
The 3.1-inch screen on the BlackBerry Q5 is identical in terms of size and resolution to the Q10, however, it looks more squarish than the Q10 and this is because there is a larger gap between the keyboard and the screen on the Q5. This gives you a bit more room to perform swiping gestures on the Q5 which is great because I still unintentionally swipe up at least a couple of times every day. The screen technology on the Q5 is LCD versus AMOLED that was present on the Q10. This display on the Q5 is definitely brighter than Q10 at max levels which is good, however I prefer the colour reproduction on the Q10. It’s not bad on the Q5 but when compared directly against the Q10, the colours look a bit washed up and less vibrant. However, whites appear more clearler on the Q5 and this is probably why you don’t see the dark theme of the Q10 on the Q5.
The Keyboard on the Q5 is very much like the type that BlackBerry has used on the various models of the Curve. Compared to the Q10, the keys are not stuck together and are more ‘clicky’ than the soft keys of the Q10. I’ve always been a fan of the Bold series and I prefer the Q10 keyboard because I find them more comfortable to type on, but I know people who liked the Curve’s keyboard more. It’s purely a matter of personal preference.
The processor on the Q5 is dual core and runs at 1.2GHz which makes it fairly zippy while moving around the OS and running apps. The CPU on the Q10 runs at 1.5GHz, however you don’t really see much of a speed difference between the two when it comes to doing regular stuff like launching apps, scrolling through lists or even booting up. In fact, the Q5 felt slightly faster at times but this is probably because of an updated version of the OS that it comes with. Overall, you won’t notice much difference between the Q5 and Q10 as far as speed is concerned.
The other difference between the Q5 and the Q10 is the camera. While the front camera on both the devices is 2MP, the back camera on the Q5 is 5MP vs 8MP on the Q10. Here are a couple of sample shots from both these devices. Both the shots are indoors and one of them with R2D2 uses the flash.
Last but not the least, the battery on the Q5 is the same Lithium Ion 2180 mAh model as the one found on the Q10. However, the battery is not removable which is a first for BlackBerry and will probably worry some concerned with battery pulls. Battery lasted about the same for me as the Q10 which is easily one full day and then some. I’ve only had the device for three days so I’m assuming this will get better- not just due to battery conditioning but also OS updates, which according to the recent leaks, increase the battery life by a good 20-30%
Overall the BlackBerry Q5 is a nice little phone that fits well as a mid-end BlackBerry. Its interesting to see that BlackBerry chose a QWERTY model for the introduction of the mid-end series. It probably tells you that most Curve owners prefer the hardware keyboard but I won’t be surprised to see a Z5 being announced soon. Priced at AED 1,499, I think the Q5 is slightly on the expensive side. Yes, I get that it has a touch screen, a good CPU and plenty of storage but the target market for this device should be people who spend close to AED 1,200 on a smartphone.