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A Second Look at the BlackBerry Q5

The BlackBerry Q5 has some big shoes to fill in my opinion. Considered to be the successor of the Curve series, the BlackBerry Q5 is the entry level BlackBerry 10 device that was recently released in Sinapore. Being a huge fan of the Curve 9360 myself, I had high hopes for it. I recently got my hands on one, and thought I will share my thoughts about the device.

The device is mostly made up of a matte finish plastic all round the device. While decent looking, the plastic tend to be a little slippery to hold. The phone feels solid enough to withstand minor bumps and bruises. The only letdown for me was the flap that covers the SIM card and MicroSD card slot, which feels rather flimsy as most of them do. The lack of a micro-HDMI port on the Q5 didn’t bother me at all since it is not something I need.

Of course being a physical keyboard device, we have to talk about buttons. The keyboard while no Q10, still feels extremely nice to type on, and it is reminiscent of the clicky chiclet keyboard from Curve series of devices. The power button, play/pause, and volume control, all feels really nice to click on.

Comparing this to the Q10, the Q10 is undoubtedly the premium device with generous use of metal and glass. The Q10 not only has a better specs, but also feels better, and more solid in the hand. (Understandably so since it costs more)

The Q5 packs a 2180mAh battery which is very slightly larger than on the Q10, the downside is of course the non-removable battery. While personally I do not mind that, I know it might be a deal breaker for some. The battery life for both the Q5 and the Q10 can last me an entire day (from wake to sleep) with moderate use, so no complains here from me.

The surprising bit for me about the Q5, is how it performs. The device feels snappy and fast despite a slower processor, and can handle most everything I need it to. Launching apps, using the browser, etc, all feels almost as fast as the Q10. The difference comes only when you start to really multitask. Tabs in the browser, multiple active frames opened, etc. While the 2GB of RAM is more than sufficient to handle those tasks, the processor starts to feel like it is straining a little.

The Q5 only has 8GB of storage, though it support MicroSD expandability. Apps can’t be installed on SD card, so if you are a heavy app user, you might want to take note.

Camera performance isn’t as great as the Q10, since it only has a 5MP shooter. Images captured on the Q10 are consistently sharper, and with more details. That’s not to say the camera is bad. I think it is still a decent shooter that will be good enough for casual use as well as sharing on social networks.

More shots from the Q5.

One thing I noticed is that the focusing on the Q5 takes a little longer, and also images tend to turn out a little over-saturated for my liking. Images taken on the Q10 looks truer to actual colours. That might not be such a bad thing since images do tend to look more lively, it’s ultimately where you decide to draw the line.

Another thing that I had originally thought would work better on the Q5 was the bigger bottom bezel. More space for the swipe up gesture. But it turns out that I still prefer the smaller bezel on the Q10. With the screen being closer to the keyboard, I find it easier to access since my thumb is normally resting on the keyboard. With the screen further away from the keyboard on the Q5, I find myself having to reach just a little further with my thumb to activate the gestures. Just a little bit further to swipe down from the top to get to settings. It is still very usable on the Q5, and it probably just requires some getting used to.

So, is the Q5 worth buying? I think it really depends. If you are already looking at a Q10, and want a device with physical keyboard without spending Q10 money, then sure, the Q5 is still a very capable device in my opinion. From a functionality and performance viewpoint, it performs really well even when compared to its older sibling, the Q10.

In terms of performance and performing the tasks I want to perform on a daily basis, the Q5 does everything I need it to brilliantly. I didn’t feel the need for more power (since I don’t really play games on my phone). In my time when using the Q5 as my daily driver, I found myself perfectly satisfied with it.

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The one thing that I still can’t get used to, is the fact that it is a bigger device than the Q10. One thing that I love about the Curve 9360 was the petite size of it. It was so small, thin, and light, that I often forget I even have a phone in my pocket. Traditionally, the Curve series of devices all have a smaller footprint compared to the Bold series of devices. Something that I wished had carried on.

Still, despite thinking that it is an extremely capable device for its current price, I do think that the device is slightly overpriced. It is my opinion that the entry level device to BlackBerry 10 platform needs to be cheaper. Cheap enough that people would buy it just to try it out. BlackBerry 10 is still a new platform, and not many would be willing to just spend the money required to get the flagship devices prior to experiencing what BlackBerry 10 can do.

What BlackBerry do need, is a larger number of users on BlackBerry 10. To convince developers to get on board with the platform, and I think that a cheaper BlackBerry 10 device could just be the way to encourage that.

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