Blackberry is back again with yet another QWERTY smartphone powered with their new Blackberry 10.xx OS. The first ever device to launch with BB 10 OS was fully touch screen based Blackberry Z10 followed by BB Q10. These two devices were the high end Flagship phones for the brand for their Die hard users because both these devices were priced over Rs. 44,000/- Obviously not affordable for mid ranged users who want to experience BB 10 operating system. Hence Blackberry launched the new BB Q5 smartphone with physical QWERTY keyboard running on the same BB 10 in budget price of Rs. 24,990/-
Running on the same new operating system BB Q5 comes with 3.1-inch HD capacitive touch screen IPS display as well as QWERTY keypad. The resolution offered by the display is 720 x 720 pixels at 330 PPI pixel density. Sounds good. It is powered with 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM offering smooth performance and of course devices running on BB 10 are meant for better multitasking and they come with a separate screen that allows you to switch between the opened apps quickly as we shown in Z10 review. There is also a 5 Megapixel rear camera capable to record Full HD 1080p resolution as well as high quality images. For making video calls, it comes equipped with 2 Megapixel front facing camera as well. Though the phone is not as good as Z10 and Q10’s premium quality, but Blackberry managed to offer a better device in affordable price. Lets find out how Q5 is different from its earlier two devices and if it is worth for Rs. 25K but before that lets have a look at its highlights.
BlackBerry Q5 specifications:
- BlackBerry 10.1 OS
- 3.1-inch IPS Capacitive touch screen display
- 720 x 720 pixels resolutions at 328 PPI pixel density
- 35-key QWERTY physical keyboard
- 1.2 GHz dual-core Snapdragon 4 processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 5 Megapixel rear camera with auto focus and LED Flash
- 2 Megapixel front-facing camera
- 1080p video recording
- 8GB internal memory, supports MicroSD Card upto 32GB
- 3G HSPA+, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS
- 2180 mAh Non-removable battery
Design and Packaging:
Though being a QWERTY phone, Blackberry always made changes in the designs. The same is with Q5. However the device looks very similar to its elder brother Q10 at first glance but it is bit less in the build quality. Both Z10 and Q10 were packed up with premium quality plastic material and they appear rich in looks. Although Q5 is made up of decent build quality, it won’t look as stylish and solid as it should. Weighing just 120grams Q5 is also lighter compared to Q10’s 139grams which is good however. However this has to be done for the cost cutting. Apart from the build material blackberry has also lowered the specifications compared to Z10 and Q10 as mentioned above to make the device at affordable price. Personally I feel the rear panel bit dull but it looks very smart from the front side. The best part is although specifications lowered and it doesn’t comes with premium built, we still get all those features what we use to have with first two BB 10 devices.
With dimension of 120 x 66 x 10.5 mm Blackberry Q5 offers better grip and wont feel slippery at all even though its has glossy plastic rear panel. Lets check out the controls and key placement done by the manufacturer to make it comfortable in use.
At the front we find a 3.1 inch smooth and HD IPS touch display with 35-keys spaced-out QWERTY keyboard. We also have two Capacitive keys on the touch screen as well that consists Dialer on the left and Camera on the right (you can see in the screenshots below).
Just above the display we have earpiece with proximity sensor, LED Notification light and 2 Megapixel front camera. On the right side we get Volume rockers with Play/Pause button in the middle. While on left they have placed a Micro USB 2.0 port which is used for Charging the battery as well as data transferring. Just below the same we have MicroSD card slot and Micro Sim card slot which is covered with a flap.
Loud Speaker and Mic are placed at the bottom of the phone. While 3.5mm Headphone jack is placed at the top of the device with Power key which is also used for screen lock. Just next there is one more thing which I am not able to figure out whether it is noise cancelation Mic used for video recording or it is a secondary mic for calling.
And finally at the rear side we have 5 Megapixel rear camera with LED Flash, in the middle we have NFC Antenna which is placed in form of BlackBerry Logo and below there is a FCC ID printed sticker which can be removed easily if required.
Unlike Z10, BB Q5 comes with unibody which means we cannot remove its rear panel to show you the battery. Hence they have also provided the SD card and Slim slot on the left body of the phone. Overall I found Q5 controls very comfortable, we can operate the entire device with just one hand.
BlackBerry Q5 comes with a 3.1 inch IPS touch display. As I mentioned above it offers HD 720 x 720 pixels resolution with 328 ppi pixel density making the display quite brighter and sharper. If you guys remember the 328 ppi is almost same as iPhone 5 or bit higher then Galaxy S3. That means though BlackBerry has removed few things for cost cutting but they provided the same output experience as Q10. With 328 ppi and 720p resolution you can enjoy your movies with complete fun (except the screen is small in size), read office documents or website text clearly. Also its IPS panel offers good viewing angle from any side of the display.
Another best part I liked about this display is you don’t need to hit the Power/Lock key at the top everytime to unlock the display. You just need to simply slide up your finger starting from the bottom of the screen (where Blackberry Logo is placed) to unlock the screen. This is bit useful because you don’t need to unlock your screen to check your notifications. If you slide up and then down again, you will get the lock screen showing all your notifications with date and time, next calendar event, message counters and a camera shortcut on right bottom. Cool features.
Operating System and Hardware Configuration:
As BlackBerry Q5 released on July 16th 2013, after the release of BB OS 10.1, it comes pre-loaded with the updated 10.1. The actual version we have in our phone is BB 10.1.0.2309. This is the latest version for Q5 because while checking for updates, it says ‘You have the latest Software’.
So with updated operating system we also get few new features with Q5 such as PIN-to-PIN messaging, HDR, click to call, editable notifications, and many more. Another difference in the OS is we get option to switch to light theme unlike the Q10’s only dark theme. In terms of performance BB 10 os is far better than any of the BlackBerry operating systems. BB 10 OS was build upon QNX while with BB 10.1 it seems like Blackberry has also incorporated WebOS and MeeGo. Comparing to BB Z10 or Q10 with Q5 I didn’t found any difference any in the OS features or performance. App Drawer, Multitask screen, Graphics, etc are very good.
As far as configuration is concerned, BlackBerry Q5 is powered with 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 4 chipset processor and 2GB of RAM which seems to be enough to carry out multitasking or running any heavy applications comfortably. We didn’t faced any lag or freezing issues with the device during our test for a week. Everything works smooth and responsive. If I have to rate, I will give 5 of 5 for the operating system performance.
With the invention of BB 10 OS, the company also invented several new features like BB Hub, BB Balance, etc. One of them is the new keyboard which we have also explained in out Z10 Review. Blackberry Q5 comes with full size 35-key QWERTY keyboard just like the one we saw in Q10 with four-row layout. However they have made a small change making the keys bit curved and left spaces between the keys for comfortable typing. Personally I found the keys bit hard, small and flat which may result in uncomfortable while typing for many users. Apart from this, the input system is same as earlier two devices of BB 10. Have a look at its settings.
It is the same smart keyboard that makes you texting much easier than ever before. Apart from Auto correction and Spell checker, it learns from your typing and suggest you ready phrases next time when you type anything. In touch screen Z10 we use to see the next suggested words on our next letter and we had to just swipe them up to insert. But as this is the QWERY phone, we get the suggested words just before the typing area. Have a look:
Most of the times, no matter it is a QWERTY phone, I didn’t required to use both hands for typing. I just keep getting the suggestive words which I need to tap and the sentence gets ready. With blackberry keyboard, we can type faster than our usual speeds. Only drawback I found with this keyboard is if you turn off the suggestive words, then it gets very difficult to type capital letters manually, entering comma or fullstop because it requires to press ‘alt’ key, etc. Rest, the keyboard is really smart.
Home Screen and Customization:
As we know devices launched with BB 10 OS doesn’t have a Home screen like we use to have in Symbian, Android or Windows Phones. With BlackBerry Z10, Q10 or the one we are reviewing Q5, there is no home screen. When the phone is unlocked, we directly get to the first App Drawer screen. You can move right to access all your installed applications, while moving left will take you to the screen where all your running apps are listed. You can see the same below in first image. As we heard in the launch of BB 10 that they have made this OS for multitasking, this screen is actually meant for the same. It can be called as Task Switcher. You can switch between any of your running apps easily and quickly. In order to put your running apps to this screen, simply slide up from the bottom of the screen. That’s it.
By default BB Q5 comes with 4 app drawers which will go on increasing as you keep installing new applications. Now as there are few built-in applications and the one you install, all apps get listed together, neither sorted alphabetically nor with installation time. In such cases you can move or sort the applications according to your requirement by long pressing any app icon. Long pressing brings the app drawer in customization mode and you can move apps from one place to another or simply tap the Recycle icon to uninstall them from here itself. You can see the screenshot above. I am not sure whether this was possible in Z10 but seems helpful in Q5.
Apart from the App Drawer Customization and Task Switcher screen, we can also see the two icons on bottom left and right. Right one is of course the Camera and at left is the Dialer. No matter on which screen you are, you can open dialer or camera instantly. The Q5 number dialer is very clean however while dialing numbers it wont bring up contacts suggestion which use to be by default in almost all other smartphone platforms. You need to tap on the contacts icon and search the person. Alternatively, you can simply start typing first few letters of your contact from any screen of the phone, it will bring up the contact as well as all other files and apps related to those letters on your display as shown in the image below. You can simply tap the contact and the call will be connected. This is pretty useful. In this dialer we have Call Logs, Contacts and the Phone dialer all together.
Now, like sliding down from top in Android phones bring up the Notification panel, in Blackberry Q5 sliding down brings us a set of useful shortcuts as shown below. You can turn On or Off Bluetooth, WiFi, Alarms, Change Notification alerts or directly access the settings menu from here. And at last but not least, we have the BlackBerry Hub at the most left of the App Drawer. When you slide the task Switcher screen to the right, what you get is the BB Hub. Once place for all your notifications. We will talk about this in details later in the apps section.
Over all, no matter we have a small (3.1 inch) screen in era where all major brands are stressing up to make as larger display as possible, you can do many things on Q5’s small display.
Performance and Application:
We have already talked about the performance in the OS section above, its too good. With 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 4 chipset processor and 2GB of RAM, BlackBerry Q5 offers you smooth performance no matter which app you are working with or how many apps you are running simultaneously. I am using this device since a week, many times I tried running over 8 applications at a time, still there was not a small lag or freeze issue. Furthermore, the user interface is very easy, you get all running apps at one single screen, you get all notifications and alerts in one application (Hub), and much more.
As far as Applications are concerned, we get all those useful application which we had in BB Z10 or Q10 such as Blackberry Balance, Blackberry Remember, Blackberry Hub, BBM and more. Here is the list of important applications that comes pre-loaded with Q5:
Few of these applications like BlackBerry Balance is very useful for Professional users who don’t want to mess up their personal and official stuffs. But in order to use this you will require BlackBerry Enterprise Services. Once enabled it will help you to keep all your personal and work apps separately. You will need to download such applications twice (Skype for example) as one will be used for personal contacts and one for official. It also encrypts your work apps and docs with AES256-encryption preventing it to be accessible by personal apps. As Blackberry devices have always been a great choice for professionals, this application with Q5’s fills their requirement.
This is the most useful application introduced with BB 10 OS from my point of view. Unlike other mobile platforms including Symbian, Android, Windows Phone or iOS, you don’t need to go and open each application to read your mails, SMSes, facebook notifications, etc. With BlackBerry Hub, you have everything at one place. No matter how many email accounts you configured, how many social accounts you have activated, BB Q5 will gather all notifications at just one place for you.
If you want you can also sort BB Hub according to the apps you want, for example, only emails, on call logs, or only Facebook notifications as shown in the image above. Blackberry has really done a hard work to bring us the most comfortable notification area. The only drawback with this application is it is “Read Only”, which means if you are reading any email, you cannot reply right from BB HUB. However, you just need to tap the notification and it will take you itself to its original application. As I mentioned above, BlackBerry Hub can be access at the most left screen of your phone.
With new BB 10 OS, Blackberry also introduced new Flagship Blackberry Messenger that allows not only to chat but you can also make voice calls, Video calls, screen sharing and more. As BlackBerry Q5 is running on the latest OS, we get the same here as well. Now you can also show them your Pictures, images, documents or whatever you see on your phone without disconnecting the calls. Hence the new BBM Messenger’s name is changed to BBM Video. It is even useful for official guys because they cannot do documents editing or creating projects together with their colleague on BBM Video. A very useful and smart messenger so far.
Emails and Productivity:
As I said earlier Blackberry has been great choice for professionals and Email plays very important role in any business. With new BlackBerry Z10 you never miss any of your email, Calendar or tasks, in fact it has become much easier using the blackberry HUB as mentioned above. Z10 supports Exchange ActiveSync, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, IMAP, and POP3 for emails and CalDAV and CardDAV as well.
Blackberry Q5 also comes with pre-loaded mobile office suite “Docs To Go.” You can now work with Word Doc, Excel, or PPT files directly on your phone. The office Suite also allows you make the documents with full formatting as you can see in the image below.
There are some limitations like you cannot create a new PowerPoint presentations here but you can edit them on your phone. With Word and Excel, you can create as well as edit them on your phone with all formatting like bold, italic, underline through text justification, text and background color, font and text size, etc. You can also share these files right away from here over BBM, WhatsApp, facebook or email. Q5 also has a separate app for PDF viewing. Overall with Q5, you can also read or edit Office files on the go.
With BlackBerry Q5 we have the same WebKit-based browser which we had in Z10 or Q10 with full Flash support. However the browser has been bit improved with the new OS update. Now when we launch the browser, the first screen we see is the tiles of recently visited websites. It can be useful if you visit those same websites frequently but can be annoying for few people as well because these tiles cannot be deleted unless and until you clear the cache and history from the browser.
No matter you load any heavy sites, browser loads them completely and offers you desktop type browsing experience. With 720p resolution and 328 ppi, the text are clear and sharp to read comfortably. However you may need to pinch in and out depending on the sites length. With this browser the entire display is covered with the web page with just the bottom bar showing your sites address, tabs icon on left and settings icon on the right. You can also see the settings menu in the image above offering you several options. You can also add any website in your App Drawer by simply tapping on “Add to Home Screen”. The site will be added as an icon on your last App Drawer screen, just a single tap and site launches in the browser.
We also saw this application in earlier to BB 10 OS based smartphones. Story Maker is a kind of Movie Maker applications that allows you to creating a movie in 720p resolution on the go using multiple Images, Videos, Songs, effects, etc. This can be later played on your HDTV or Monitor in HD quality.
Apart from those major applications, Blackberry Q5 comes with several regular built-in applications including Blackberry Maps, Calendar, Music, Videos, Contacts, Calculator, Weather, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Adobe Reader, Box Connect to Dropbox, etc. Un surprisingly still we can see only one Google App that is YouTube which is also just a shortcut to browser based youtube and not an application.
Blackberry Link is a very handy PC based application for BB 10 based devices. It is not a PC Suite like Desktop Manager but a separate applications that Syncs your smartphone without connecting it via USB. It works on WiFi and it is really fast. In our testing we found that once connected to Blackberry Link, the images appears on my computer just after couple of seconds I click them on my phone. You just need to login into Blackberry link with the same Blackberry ID which is used on your phone. Once entered, the software starts syncing or I can say backup your Images, Videos, Music and Documents automatically over internet/Wi-Fi. That means all your data is getting backed up safely on your own computer without your knowledge. I found it very useful. Remember, Don’t get confused between Blackberry Desktop Manager and Blackberry link. Both are separate and Blackberry Link only works with device running on BB OS 10 or higher.
Storage and Network:
BlackBerry Q5 comes with built-in 8GB storage capacity. Obviously it is not enough you carry a bunch of Songs and Movies with you. Hence there is also an expandable slot provided that supports MicroSD card upto 32GB. Is still you facing shortage than Q5 comes with DropBox as well. You can save your data in cloud as well. As far as connectivity is concerned, BB Q5 seems good and supports almost all major connectivity options. You have 2G GSM, 3G GSM (DC-HSPA+), Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 with LE, microUSB port, and NFC.
Now a days we are in trend of watching movies on larger display and that too in 16:9 widescreen ratio, but with Blackberry Q5 we get a smaller screen (3.1 inch) and also it is not a 16:9. However the output from the display is quite amazing. No matter you play Full HD 1080p video, there wont be a single lag or freezing issues. You can also Zoom in out the video playback. The default media player provided in BB Q5 is capable to play almost all Audio or Video formats including 3GP, 3GP2, M4A, M4V, MOV, MP4, MKV, MPEG-4, AVI, ASF, WMV, WMA, MP3, MKA, AAC, AMR, F4V, WAV, MP2PS, MP2TS, AWB, OGG, FLAC. Neither you need to convert any video to make it phone compatible nor you need any third party player. With Q5 you can also share your media play it on other compatible devices easily by tapping Play On from settings.
Even the Music player is pretty good. The music library allows sorts your music with Artists, Albums and genres. You can create playlists, play it on other compatible devices and many more. Just like Image and Video gallery, even Music gallery’s first screen shows you recently played music, the recently added with more three tabs at bottom. The only problem seems like there is no equalizer or I was not able to find it.
Sound quality is also good in Q5. You can enjoy your songs or Movies in Office or Home without wearing the headphones. Some people have also tested the device using external amplifier and they the scores were awesome. Over all, along with official works you can also enjoy multimedia contents on Blackberry Q5.
BlackBerry Q5 comes with 5 Megapixel rear camera with Auto Focus and LED Flash. The camera is capable to record Full HD 1080p videos as well as HD resolution images. There is also a 2 Megapixel front facing camera capable to record HD 720p videos. Which means we can make Skype video calls in high quality. With Q5 pictures can be clicked by touching the screen as well as the Volume rocker keys. This is helpful because many times while clicking shutter button in other phones the camera gets shaken hampering the image quality. He we just need to slightly touch the screen and click.
The camera has very minimal settings but it comes with the “Time Shift Mode” which was introduced with Z10. Using this feature when you can capture a image, camera captures more than one still from which you can simply select/change the image and get a best/perfect shot. Time Shift can be activated by tapping the camera icon within the camera app and selecting Time Shift icon. The settings provided are to change the Aspect Ratio from 1:1, 4:3 or 16:9. You can change Flash on/off/auto and Scene Mode. Under Shooting Mode we have options like Stabilisation, Burst and HDR Mode.
Now talking about quality, we dont need to worry at all. Rear camera records Full HD 1080p videos while the front camera is capable to record 720p videos. Obviously the videos and images recorded in the day light or any better light environment are amazing, however you may face a very small problem capturing the images in low light place. But the Flash provided on rear side is good enough to capture doable images but with a bit noise.
We saw BB Z10 with such large touch screen and high end configuration having Li-Ion 1800 mAh battery, compared to the same this BB Q5 is very small and even less in specification. But still the brand has powered the phone with 2,180 mAh battery. This is surely surprising for me, and I appreciate it. As you know we test the devices as an everage user as well as an active user. During the test as an average user the battery lasted for over 48 hours where i use to do phone calls, messaging and WhatsApp on 2G. While testing it as an active user on 3G and WiFi with browsing, facebook, twitter, WhatsApp, phone calls, SMSing, etc, the battery still lasted for over 15 hours. Quite amazing. So you can lave your house at morning without carrying your charger, i’m sure the phone will accompany you all the time and will not drain.
If you are BlackBerry fan and looking for a faster, smarter and powerful QWERT phone which can carry out all your professional tasks and keeps you connected 24 x 7, this is the phone you required. At the price of Rs. 24,990/- BlackBerry Q5 is the only budget smartphone with so many features and quality hardware. With 2Gb RAM, 8 Megapixel camera and powerful battery, i dont think BB Q5 is going to disappoint you ever. If i had to choose between BB Q10 and Q5, i will surely go with Q5 as there is not much difference between their specification, but a huge difference in price. Also the Q5 is capable to run all apps that Q10 runs. Better choice in Blackberry QWERT Phones.
But as we known BlackBerry AppWorld is still far behind compare to Google Play, in terms of Applications and Games, there are many Android Phones which sounds better in this price range. Also as per multimedia purpose, 3.1 inch display obviously cannot be good for watching videos. So unless and until I a BB fan or need a phone for my official use, Q5 can be secondary preference. In final words, BB Q5 offers quality hardware, best QWERT keyboard offering you best and comfortable messaging, faster and powerful device with long lasting battery but not good for multimedia.
- Excellent physical keyboard
- Good performance
- Great battery backup
- Bit overpriced
- Lacks good third-party apps
- Screen’s 1:1 aspect ratio is a bit awkward
- No FM radio