Maps

TomTom has provided the mapping nous behind the Maps app on the BlackBerry Q5, and while it's not the worst service we've used, it's some way off the best, which in our eyes is Google Maps.

BlackBerry Q5 review

There was quite a wait when we first opened the app, with the Q5 hanging for what felt like an eternity, but which was probably between 40 and 50 seconds in reality.

After the initial think, the app opened up quicker from then on, but we were still left waiting at least 10 seconds before a map actually appeared on the screen.

The BlackBerry Q5 seemed to be quite hit and miss when it came to finding our location, too. Some days it would pin point us almost imediatly, while on other days it took its sweet time tracking down exactly where we were.

BlackBerry Q5 review

When it comes to panning and zooming around the map, we found the lower powered processor inside the Q5 struggled to meet our demands, and we were often left waiting for the maps to render on-screen.

There's no satellite, flyover or StreetView options in the Maps app - you just get the basic bird's eye, Ordinance Survey-style view to play with.

You can toggle traffic on by hitting the menu button, but this seems to just slow down the app even more, so we'd recommend you keep it turned off.

BlackBerry Q5 review

We were disappointed to find that train stations weren't marked on the map, nor any other public transport information, and visually the Maps app isn't as appealing as the iOS and Android alternatives.

At least there's route planning onboard, which tells you the distance of your journey and approximately how long it will take in current traffic.

If you fancy actually driving to your selected destination there's also free turn-by-turn satellite navigation included on the Q5 that provides a clear and accurate service.

We found the BlackBerry Q5 was able to track our location as we hurtled along the motorway, and it didn't seem to struggle in built-up areas, either.

Apps

BlackBerry 10 and apps is a topic that has been debated time and again. In one corner you have BlackBerry claiming it's got the fastest growing app store of all time, which may well be true, but in the other there's the lure of Apple's App Store and Google Play, which boast over 800,000 apps each.

BlackBerry Q5 review

Compare that to BlackBerry World's 120,000 and even if it has grown rapidly it's at a clear disadvantage in today's app-centric market.

It is hot on the heels of Microsoft's Windows Phone store, which now packs over 135,000 apps - but that still leaves BlackBerry in fourth place for the time being, and thus makes it a hard sell to app-hungry teens.

Some of the big hitters are beginning to get onboard, with the likes of Skype, WhatsApp and British Airways all having dedicated BB10 apps, plus for the gaming population the inclusion of Angry Birds, Where's my water? and the recent addition of Stick Sport's Stick Tennis continues to boost the store's appeal.

BlackBerry Q5 review

Back to the BlackBerry Q5 itself and like its two brothers it comes relatively bloatware-free, which we applaud it for as we're not fans of manufacturers filling our shiny new phones with apps we'll never use - and sometimes can't even delete.

You do get the stock Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn apps out of the box, and we can happily live with all those.

In terms of app selection it's the same as the Q10, although availability does differ a little to the Z10 - with the latter having a more favourable screen size for developers.

BlackBerry Q5 review

Stock offerings such as clock, calculator, weather and compass are all included on the Q5, and are all pretty self explanatory in what they offer.

One of the pre-installed apps worth mentioning on the BlackBerry Q5 that isn't a social medium is DocsToGo, a handy app for those looking to use the handset for business purposes.

It provides a simple and intuitive way to create, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on the device.

BlackBerry Q5 review

The small nature of the screen means things can get a little tricky if you're trying to work on a complex document, but for the odd quick revision it's a pretty valuable tool.

On to Remember, and this is BlackBerry's answer to Evernote. It can even sync with the popular note-taking app to ensure all your favourite shopping lists safely make the transition over to BB10.

As well as text, you can also attach voice clips and photos to your notes to give yourself a fully rounded memory.

The Smart tags app enables you to group together a bunch of information that can then be transferred onto an NFC tag, made into a QR code or passed directly to another NFC-enabled handset.

Instead of handing out a business card you could create a smart tag with all your contact information on and then share it via NFC to the phones of people you meet with - it may not catch on, but at least BlackBerry is trying to push the boundaries of the tech on the Q5 and its other BB10 handsets.