BlackBerry Q5 review: Small screen, average camera spoil the party
Having seen videos on large-screen phones, watching videos and photos on this midget screen was a below-par experience.
New Delhi: In the face of criticism over the price of its Z10 and Q10 smartphones, BlackBerry recently introduced its mid-range smartphone, BlackBerry Q5, which also runs on the new BlackBerry 10 OS. We had published our first impressions on the device sometime back and now having used the phone for a longer period, here's the extended review. At Rs 24,990, does the phone have in it to attract potential buyers?
Like its brethren Q10, the Blackberry Q5 is also equipped with a touchscreen and a QWERTY keypad. When people are moving to touch-based large-screen smartphones, the arrival of the BlackBerry Q5 with a 3.1-inch screen (with a QWERTY keypad) seems to be aimed at only BlackBerry loyalists, the few who are still not ready to desert their trusted BlackBerry for something different.
Neatly designed, I liked the looks of this light-weight phone. The phone is comfortable to grip and has a decent build quality. Available in three colours - red, black, and white - the phone looks equally refined in each shade. But what I found throttling my experience was its small screen. The phone has an excellent 3.1-inch display (720x720 resolution), but its small screen hampered my viewing and browsing experience. For instance, one can't view more than two Facebook posts at a time on this small screen, and if a post has a photo in it, you can't see a complete post in one go. Similarly, not even three tweets can be seen without scrolling the timeline down. Having seen videos on large-screen phones, watching videos and photos on this midget screen was a below-par experience. And given its price, these experiences can't be pushed aside.
While its touch responsiveness and viewing angles are great, but how far do they matter if the screen-size is not what you would love to see content on? Had its screen-size been a little bigger, the experience with this phone would have been totally different.
The QWERTY keyboard on the Q5 is undoubtedly better than what you would found on BlackBerry's old lot, but the more expensive Q10 has a better keyboard. Compared to the keyboard on the Q10, keys on the Q5 are a tad hard to press, but of course better than those on its outdated smartphones.
The volume rocker keys on the right also work as camera shutter buttons. The phone has an internal memory of 8GB, and also includes a microSD memory card slot that supports a memory card up to 32GB.
Talking about its camera, the phone has a 5 megapixel rear camera, which captures photos of acceptable quality in outdoor and well-lit situations, but in low-light and soft-light conditions, photos captured are average, not impressive. Cameras on the phones available in the same price band offer better picture quality than what the Q5 snaps. In video mode, the camera captures good videos in daylight, but in indoor lighting conditions the videos recorded are not even of acceptable quality. Its front camera is apt for video-calling only when lighting conditions are favourable. Contrary to my expectations, the Q5's front camera surprised me with its quality in bright light. While the previous generation of BlackBerry phones have been excused for their poor camera, but in the current smartphone scene this is no longer acceptable. The camera on the Q5 also does not offer many options to customise images.
The BlackBerry Q5 runs the same BB 10 OS as you would find on the BlackBerry Q10, which is a great improvement over the previous OS. I have already talked about the pros and cons of the new OS in the Q10 review.
Coming to its performance, the phone is powered by a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor coupled with 2GB RAM. The phone didn't hang even once throughout the review cycle; I did not find it lingering anytime throughout the time I used it as my primary device. The phone is engineered with a quality speaker which is not only loud, but also produces clear audio. The Q5 supports 1080p video recording and playback. Packed with a 2180mAh non-removable battery, its battery easily lasted for more than a day.
Marred by a small screen, average camera and relatively high price, the phone fails to make it to our recommendations list. Citing the ease of typing and lack of QWERTY smartphones in the market, some would argue in favour of this phone, but my question to them is why do we need QWERTY phones anymore when full-touch devices offer enhanced typing and viewing experience? It is now time for BlackBerry to come up with a full-touch, mid-range device.
+ Excellent display
+ Clean UI
+ 1080 video support
+ Great performance and speaker
- Small screen
- Average camera
- Not so great design
- Marginally overpriced