BlackBerry Q5 review

BlackBerry 10 gets slightly more affordable, but does that make any better?

BlackBerry Q5 review
The Q5 is difficult to recommend

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Once again BlackBerry has created a functional handset that offers up everything you'd expect from a smartphone. But the BlackBerry Q5 isn't overly desirable, doesn't sport the specs to make it stand out in its £330 (around US$500 / AU$550) price bracket and ultimately we fear the younger generation it's aimed at isn't going to be overly receptive.

We liked

Once again where BlackBerry 10 seems to excel is in the web surfing department, and while the BlackBerry Q5 may not be quite as fast as the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10, it still puts in a decent performance that it can be proud of.

The inclusion of 4G and NFC in the Q5 are positive steps forward in both technologies as they begin to appear on more and more devices, and it's good to see another, non-flagship smartphone sporting LTE.

We're still big fans of the BlackBerry Hub, and while its minor niggles are slightly annoying they can be ironed out in future software updates, and it's a great way to handle all your various messages and notifications.

We disliked

Sadly we're not sold on the chunky, overly plastic design that feels like it's been pulled directly from a BlackBerry handset from a few years back - and the extra girth makes it a little tricky to type one-handed on the Q5.

The QWERTY keyboard itself is also a little bit of a letdown, especially after the excellent offering found on the BlackBerry Q10.

BlackBerry prides itself on offering the best physical keyboards on the market, but the Q5 falls a little short of this mark, with small keys and fiddly operation hindering our progress.

We have to mention the display on the BlackBery Q5 as well. We understand that you can't have a lovely big screen with a keyboard bolted below it, but in this day and age of big screened smartphones the 3.1-inch display on the Q5 just feels outdated, and it doesn't make for a great gaming or video-watching surface.

Final verdict

The BlackBerry Q5 is difficult to love. Sure it's got all the core smartphone features, but it doesn't really excel at anything, apart from perhaps web browsing, but even that's hampered somewhat by the pokey 3.1-inch display.

If you want a great QWERTY keyboard device then spend the extra cash and pick yourself up a BlackBerry Q10, but if you're nonplussed on the whole physical keys debate then you're going to be better off with the Sony Xperia SP or Motorola Razr HD, which offer better specs, bigger screens and more applications.

We can't help but feel the only people likely to seriously consider a BlackBerry Q5 are those yearning for a Q10, but whose pockets are not deep enough to afford one.

The BlackBerry Q5 feels like it should be dropped down the pricing scale, towards the bottom of the mid-tier of smartphones - and at that price we could very well be recommending it, but as it stands it's hard to make a convincing argument for this BlackBerry 10 handset.

First reviewed: July 2013

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.