BlackBerry Q5 review: The apprentice
Smartphone makers believe in trickle-down economics. They build their portfolios top to bottom, looking to get as much bang out of the flagship as they can and, after the hype around it has settled, they bring out the more affordable packages to keep the cash rolling in. The big question - always - is how much of the flagship specs will trickle down the ranks.
Having delivered the latest BlackBerry 10 OS in a classic messenger form factor, a midrange package combining touchscreen with the iconic hardware keyboard was next on the Canadians' to-do list. The Q10 came at a price not a lot of people can afford, so the Q5 promises to deliver the same experience without sweeping the fluff out of your pocket.
BlackBerry Q5 official photos
At first glance, the Q5 has all the important checkboxes ticked. You get a dual-core Krait chipset, a 3.1" display of the same 720 x 720 pixel resolution and a four-row QWERTY keyboard for that serious texting and emailing.
- Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, tri/quad-band UMTS/HSPA, 100 Mbps LTE
- 3.1" 16M-color 720p (720 x 720 pixels) IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen
- Four-row hardware QWERTY keyboard
- Dual-core 1.2 GHz Krait, 2GB RAM, Adreno 225
- BlackBerry 10.1 OS; Office document editor
- BlackBerry Hub is a unified inbox of all your communication and social networking accounts
- BBM with video chat and screen sharing
- 5 MP auto-focus camera with face detection and Time Shift; LED flash
- Full HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps; 720p on the front-facing camera
- 2MP front facing camera
- 16GB of storage, microSD card slot; Dropbox and Box.NET integration
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot; Wi-Fi sync
- Bluetooth 4.0
- standard microUSB port, microHDMI
- 3.5mm audio jack
- GPS receiver with A-GPS
- BlackBerry World is still missing key apps
- Screen size is somewhat small by today's standards and the 1:1 aspect is awkward for video watching
- QWERTY keyboard could be better
- BlackBerry Maps may be even worse than Apple Maps
- No FM radio
The screen is no longer AMOLED, the camera has been downgraded from 8MP to 5MP and the CPU has been downclocked by 300 MHz. These are things, which sure make the Q10 the more desirable package, but not the kind that will dramatically change the user experience. It looks like the BlackBerry Q5 is much closer to the BlackBerry Q10 than its name suggests.
That, and the more affordable price tag, may actually help the Q5 convince more users than its bigger and more advanced sibling. We are about to see how much of that potential translates in real-life performance. Join us on the next page, where the Q5 gets unboxed and handled.
Reviews > BlackBerry Q5 review: The apprentice