Thursday, 18 July 2013

BlackBerry Q5 review

BlackBerry’s Q5 is the first mid-priced phone from the company using the new BB10 operating system. It’s a return to what’s become the company’s core market – affordable, rugged and with a keyboard.
Indeed, anyone familiar with BlackBerry’s usual work will probably be impressed with the Q5 initially – build quality is clearly much improved, at least in the test units sent to journalists, and the device, even though it’s all plastic, is a decent size that still isn’t too big. It doesn’t feel as premium as the more expensive Q10, with its Kevlar-like back, but this is a slightly cheaper device, starting at around £25 per month.

With the screen shrunk to 3.1” to make room for the physical keyboard, it won’t drain the battery in the same way that proves a problem for full touchscreen devices. The problems, however, are more in strategy than in execution: if you believe there’s an army of cost-conscious BlackBerry users who are wedded to the platform and waiting for the new OS, then the Q5 is the device that will save the company. If you believe, alternatively, that most BB users are either business people who have already moved on or for who cost isn’t the overrirding issue, then the Q5 seems to rather miss the point. The more premium Q10, it seems, has sold moderately well, but failed to stem the decline.

The Q5 does, at least, feature all the excellent points of the BB10 OS – combined inboxes for LinkedIn, Twitter, email, Facebook and more, plus the ‘Peek and Flow’ idea that makes everything easy to find and the ‘Balance’ system that lets users switch easily between work and personal modes. But if these are your priorities, the Q10, for only slightly more money when it’s being discounted, seems to be a better bet. And the Q5 doesn’t feature the removable battery that so many BlackBerry fans adore. You’ll need to keep this one charged up, and I wouldn’t advise risking that for more than 10 hours.
So the Q5 suffers from all the compromises inherent in a mid-range device – a 5MP camera that is adequate rather than brilliant and a 1.2GHz processor, for instance, and also from the problems BlackBerry is currently suffering. So there are limited apps, and the BBM messaging system will soon be available elsewhere, where previously it was unique to BlackBerry.

If you’re determined to buy a BlackBerry, with a keyboard, but don’t want to break the bank for a Q10, buy a Q5. But if you’re simply after a phone for a reasonable price, hunt around and you can easily find a Samsung Galaxy S3 or an iPhone 4S for prices that aren’t too dissimilar.


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