BlackBerry Q5 review
BlackBerry 10.1 OS, 3.1in 720x720 display
When the BlackBerry Z10 launched earlier this year, with a brand-new operating system and an incredibly bright screen, it faced two main criticisms. One was the lack of a keyboard and the other was the high price.
The Q10 solved the keyboard problem but kept the expense. The Q5, however, is similar to the Q10 but is available a cheaper price, so you can enjoy BlackBerry 10's excellent messaging features for less.
The Q5 still isn't cheap, especially when you can buy superb Android phones such as the Sony Xperia SP for a similar price SIM-free, but it is at least free on a £21-per-month contract. Unfortunately, it's not especially stylish, being made of hard plastic. The material feels tough, though, and the Q5 feels like it could survive a tumble.
Unlike the more expensive Q10, the Q5's dual-core processor runs at 1.2GHz instead of 1.5GHz, the camera's sensor has five rather than eight megapixels and the Q5 is a sealed unit, which means you can't replace the battery. This may trouble those who travel extensively, but the phone's relatively large 2,180mAh battery lasted over 12 hours in our video playback test, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much; we usually saw a couple of days' use between charges.
We also liked the Q5's 3.1in, 720x720-pixel display. It doesn't have the deepest blacks we’ve seen, but whites are white and text is sharp. The Q5's screen doesn’t have the amazing outdoor performance of the super-bright Z10 display, though. Outside in bright sunlight, the screen was still usable, but wasn't anywhere near as bright as the Nokia Lumia 925 we used for comparison (neither the BlackBerry Q10 nor Z10 were available for testing).
BlackBerry 10 is a refined OS that's fantastic for messaging. You're never far from accessing your communications, whether they're email, texts, social media mentions, voicemails or phone calls. Gestures are the key to using BlackBerry 10 OS efficiently. Swiping up on the gesture bar above the keyboard displays a sidebar, and if you have any messages you want to look at a quick swipe right will go to the last inbox you visited.
Swipe left again and you will see a list of all the accounts on the phone, complete with the number of unread messages or notifications. At the top is the BlackBerry Hub, which aggregates all these accounts into one box, making the prospect of keeping tabs on all the info streaming into your smartphone a bit less daunting.
BlackBerry 10 also makes it easy to keep tabs on running apps. No matter which app you are currently running, swiping up from the gesture bar will pause it and go to a screen with all your running apps, depicted as cards. You can then switch to any of these apps or close them with a tap.