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BlackBerry Q5 review: Software, Performance and Camera

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson



Our Score:


BlackBerry Q5 Software

The BlackBerry Q5 runs the updated BlackBerry 10.1 operating system. BlackBerry 10 is simple and intuitive to use, and its range swipe and gesture controls quickly become second nature.

But BB10 is not still without its teething problems. The continued lack of high-profile app support remains a major concern. The BlackBerry World app store is still bereft of big name apps, such as Instagram and Netflix. What’s more, of the more than 120,000 BlackBerry 10 apps that are now available, there are more than a few cheats. BBC iPlayer (a must-have for many smartphone users) is a prime example.

Unlike the iOS and Android iPlayer apps, which offer native apps, the BB10 iPlayer app is nothing more than a link to the iPlayer website. This is not a sole example either; there are hundreds of these web links masked as apps. There are some highlights on the game front, such as Stick Tennis and Super Cricket, but clearly there’s still a lot of work to do get the app collection anything close to iOS or Android.

BlackBerry Q5 Hands-on

One of the key features of BB10 is the ability to switch seamlessly between personal and business profile, which works well if you plan to use the Q5 for work. The BlackBerry Hub brings together all alerts, notifications and messages from all of your accounts, but it still feels a little clunky to locate being hidden off past all the homescreens.

The BlackBerry Q5 does, however, create a fluid, intuitive balance between the software and hardware, as the keyboard supports a selection of shortcut options. Typing ‘Tweet’, ‘Email dad’ or ‘Text mum’ from any homescreen will instantly take you to your desired location, letting you continue to type your message without pause.

BBM is, as always, a beneficial addition allowing for free messaging between fellow BlackBerry owners. With a BBM iOS and Android app set to launch in a matter of weeks, it’s not a BlackBerry exclusive like it once was, but it’s still the most secure way to trade instant messages.

BlackBerry Q5

BlackBerry Q5 Performance

The 1.2GHz dual-core processor at the heart of the BlackBerry Q5 is half a step behind the BlackBerry Q10 but, for the large part, is up to the tasks thrown at it. Paired with 2GB of RAM, it keeps things running along smoothly, but shows its lack of legs when facing more strenuous demands. Apps open promptly, with only occasional judders and missed steps.

The phone becomes more than a little warm during prolonged periods of use, though, with this excessive heat being focussed around the phone’s lower half. It’s not dangerously warm, but it’s a little disconcerting when it does happen.

The Q5’s minimal 8GB of internal storage is, thankfully, expandable via microSD up to 32GB. This lack of further internal storage space is yet another reason to question the Q5’s lofty price tag. NFC is present and works well with tags, but its inclusion is still of questionable importance.

BlackBerry Q5

BlackBerry Q5 Camera

The BlackBerry Q5’s camera is not quite what you would expect from £320 mid-market phone. It takes decent shots, but struggles severely with focussing problems. We frequently missed our desired shots and it’s sluggish enough to cause those once in a life-time moments to be missed – including our chance to get up close and personal with Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car!.

BlackBerry Q5

It performs moderately well in less than ideal lighting conditions, however. Although still some way off being a dedicated compact replacement, the Q5 camera was able to turn slightly glum indoor lighting into perfectly acceptable snaps. An LED flash is present, but it's overpowering in close quarters.

Again, however, the Q5’s 1:1 aspect ratio causes problems. The camera’s standard mode replicates its square form, which means shots are unusually sized and look awkward when viewed on anything other than the phone’s screen. This can be changed in settings to more traditional 4:3 and 16:9 aspects, but then they’re hard to view on the phone’s screen. There’s no easy compromise.

BlackBerry Q5

A second, 2-megapixel camera sits up front and is ideal for video calling or more engaging BBM conversations. It handles challenging lighting conditions well, and helps redeem some of the focussing woes of its rear-mounted partner.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

└► Ha[X]aN ◄┘

May 14, 2013, 7:05 pm

good one price ?


May 15, 2013, 2:13 am


Nanda Linn Aung

May 15, 2013, 5:01 am

nice one.... if they sell less than 199$ outright, it might be a hit.


July 8, 2013, 9:09 am

Hmm.."stunningly timeless" Really? Are you quite sure? Maybe "squat, chunky, fragile and with suspect signal reception" would be another, equally valid way to describe it? And if having a fixed battery doesn't stop the iPhone 4 being both "stunning" and "timeless", or hinder its adoption by business, care to explain why it should be an issue for the Q5?

As for being "unbalanced" I'd argue that having the weight favour the lower part of a handset makes perfect sense. I'm not even sure I understand what you mean by "feels unbalanced".

Granted the price seems a bit steep at the moment and the main camera is very poor, but performance, screen, keyboard, battery life and webcam are all very good and its 4G-enabled and unlike the iP4/S/5 and Nexus 4 there's storage expansion.

As for the price, are you quite sure it's £320 on PAYG? CPW is offering it for £320 SIM-free, I can't see any PAYG offers at the moment from the major UK telecos or re-sellers. On contract it seems to be offer from just over £20 a month which seems a pretty reasonable price for a device like this.

Jason Peters

July 9, 2013, 8:06 am

I agree with what the Trusted Reviews team are saying about the Q5 but I'm still having concerns over areas that are somewhat "picky" would never be happen during any Apple product review.

The acknowledgements to it's market sector are very well referenced but not in the context that compromises have to be made in prooduction for it to reach a price-point for the market it's aimed at.

Comparing is a great reference point, but why? In a polite and quick from Ed, following my comments during the Z10 review I was told that refrencing a S4 or S3 although "well known" don't have the awareness - so why would readers know about a P6?

So why I love the review, I really do think in order for me to "trust" this website, I'd like to see a bit more honesty towards Apple and it's other products, we are all guilty of a little bias, but on a website that sells it'self as "Trusted" giving an honest opinion; I feel some products come in for that on here, while the Apple products "being stunningly timeless" don't.

I can see a growing frustration from many readers about the incongrunency in news and reviews.


July 20, 2013, 12:48 am

5 out of 10? The price shouldn't be included as a negative, because price always changes. PLUS why are you using e-bay? They will OVERPRICE anything they can, especially when its a new product.
I would give this phone a 7 out of 10, with the Q10 getting a 9.5 out of 10.

Anyhow I can see some bias going on here, but that is my opinion. The Q5 deserves a higher score.


August 2, 2013, 4:50 am

help me am goin to buy BBM Q5 today .. s


August 16, 2013, 12:24 am

I think this is the phone for me. Any Q5 users here around!?!?!? Well, i m planning to buy it next week, you guy'z opinion makes me feel to either buy it or not......HELP ME GUYZZZZ!!!!!!!!!


September 20, 2013, 9:08 am

Proble with Camera, facing problem with camera cant switch on, funny message that camera can't start. Service center want to keep phone for 1 months to send it to the manufacturer place. and its very common problem with most of the Q5 users. Pls think before buy.


September 20, 2013, 9:09 am

Please read my commets before buying abt camera problem with Q5


September 27, 2013, 4:14 pm

I've seen the phone as cheap at $300. Prices are coming down. Performance is really good for the pricepoint IMO.

Blackberry Q5

October 7, 2013, 10:50 pm

I am a Z10 user, a PlayBook user, and a Q5 user. I would much rather spend the $300.00 for the Q5, than the Q10. The Q5 is an unbelievable phone. Who gives a rat's behind about 50,000 flashlight apps, when you can have a phone, an OS, and the best keyboards and prediction around on a smart phone. I had all kinds of brands...and I ALWAYS come back to BlackBerry. They really do make an amazing product.

The problem that people have is this: Stop trying to compete with the Joneses because they use Apple, and learn what a good phone is...a lot of people who use the iphone don't know half of what the capabilities are of the device that they're buying anyhow. They do it to just keep up with the next person....truly sad. You don't know what you're missing by passing up on a BB10 phone....seriously. They are fast, have the best keyboards...virtual or tactile...removable batteries, expandable storage, great camera, mature and useful apps...and they have class!

david hugeson

November 27, 2013, 7:06 pm

i am a owner of the blackberry q5 i have it in red and it is a beautiful device packs all the great features and also has 2gb of ram as the s4 has it is good wekk round phone doesnt disappoint battery lasts 2 days for me heavy user good front camera for skype and bbm video and if you want to go the extra mile with apps you can even sideload which run smooth buy the blackberry q5 trust me user


March 24, 2014, 6:29 pm

How much louder would the "clicky" noise be for the keyboard on a Q5 than a Q10? Would it wake my wife in the middle of the night if I start typing?

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