BQ Aquaris X5 review

A great budget phone, if you don't need a great camera

BQ Aquaris X5 review

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The BQ Aquaris X5 has a 5-inch display at 720p resolution, which has become the standard for lower-mid-range phones. It's a good size, and a decent res.

Get up close and you can see the pixels, but in normal use everything looks pretty sharp. It's an IPS-style LCD, so viewing angles are just dandy too. I get the feeling it really wants to be an OLED, though.

The BQ Aquaris X5 uses something called 'Color+' calibration, which is out to really jazz up the display's colours. Sure enough, the phone is a bit oversaturated, really making reds in particular pop out of the screen.

BQ Aquaris X5 review

The Moto G looks perhaps a shade more natural, but if you like your screens to be a bit more vivid you'll probably like the BQ Aquaris X5.

As the phone runs CyanogenMod you also get control over the temperature of the screen, so you can make it warmer (orangey) or cooler (blue-tinted). You can even set this to change automatically as day turns to night, the idea being that a warmer tone is easier on the eyes as your peepers get progressively more pooped.

More importantly, there's a decent auto brightness setting, which uses a light sensor above the screen to tell exactly what brightness is needed.

BQ Aquaris X5 review

Max backlight brightness won't melt your eyeballs, but I found it good enough to use outdoors on those tricky bright-but-overcast days. It's roughly Moto G-grade.

Other than adding the option to tone down the colour a little, the one bit I'd change is the Dragontrail coating. It's fine, but not quite as good as Gorilla Glass.

The resolution obsessives among you may also want to consider the OnePlus X. It has a 1080p screen, and looks a lot sharper close-up.

BQ Aquaris X5 review

The display isn't way beyond what you'd expect at this price point, but it does look good alongside the BQ Aquaris X5's rivals – and even having experienced the 4K Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, I'd be happy to live with it.

It's one of a few features that are just 'right for the money', rather than punching above the phone's weight, and the other key one is the speaker.

The BQ Aquaris X5 has a single speaker on its bottom edge. And while BQ's marketing talks about a special soundbox that gives the sound more space to percolate, I find its quality to be just the mid-range-phone standard. It's fairly thin.

There is an AudioFX sound customiser app, but when dealing with the speaker it's only really good for basic EQ'ing rather than more impressive processing.

Big speaker fan? Be sure to check out the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (4.7-inch or 5.5-inch). It's one of the more affordable phones with a decent speaker.

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.