We could tell you at the top here, but that'd kinda negate the point of the following 2,613 words. HARDWARE Despite being part of BlackBerry's "Q" range of handsets, the Q5 bears little resemblance to the Q10 it's meant to sit beside. While the layout and button placement are the same, this really doesn't feel like a BlackBerry handset at all. On paper, the phone has nearly identical dimensions to its bigger brother, being only 0.8mm narrower and 0.45mm thicker. But in reality that difference is palpable. Despite being designed as an upgrade to the mid-range Curve models in the company's product range, the Q5 feels rounded, hefty compared to the Curve 9320. Diehards will be surprised to see that the company has ditched the removable battery and glass-weave backing, opting instead for a matte plastic chassis. Users will now have to access the micro-SIM and microSD card slots via a flap that runs down the left-hand side, next to the micro-USB port. Up top, you've got a 3.5mm headphone jack nestled next to the display / power button. On the right is the three-way volume / mute rocker, which also doubles as the voice control and camera shutter switches. Meanwhile, the speaker runs along the bottom lip.
The BlackBerry logo sits between the 3.1-inch, 720 x 720 display and the island-style keyboard, saved from jostling for space with the speaker, 2-megapixel front-facing camera and LED light at the top of the unit. The square display means that consuming video content is a choice between heavy letter boxing or blowing the picture up and panning-and-scanning (with your finger) like the VHS tapes of yore. Flip the phone over and you'll see a plain back dominated by the "seven flying D's" symbol, set between the camera / LED flash and the removable FCC sticker. Internals-wise, the Q5 is packing 8GB of storage, of which 4.3GB is usable out of the box, so we'd suggest grabbing a microSD card (up to 64GB) if you're planning to use this as your primary media player. KEYBOARD Now we come to the keyboard, without doubt the single most important feature this phone has to offer. Our fingers may have lost their strength thanks to the softening effect of touchscreen devices, but we were excited to spend some time using a physical input device we could feel. Unfortunately, it looks as if this feature was the one where the company was most eager to differentiate the Q5 from its higher-priced sibling. Swap out "Bold" for "Q10" and "Curve" for "Q5" and you've got exactly the same setup here. Back in the day, BlackBerry's top-end Bold line had a sumptuous, confluent keyboard, while the budget range of Curve handsets had an island-style QWERTY layout that was nowhere near as comfortable to use. Swap out "Bold" for "Q10" and "Curve" for "Q5" and you've got exactly the same setup here.
The membrane beneath the unit is sufficiently weak that when pushing down the F key, the G and R keys move along in sympathy. Now, while this problem doesn't create any accidental entries, these little flaws don't fill you with confidence in the hardware. In fact, we can only imagine how bad the materials will deteriorate at the tail end of a two-year deal. Furthermore, as the keys are nearly flush with the chassis, there's a limited amount of travel, but what little there is feels mushy and imprecise despite a mechanical click that lets you know you've landed. We should add, however, that we did put the Q5 in the hands of a BBM-addicted tween, who felt that the phone's keyboard was an improvement over the 9320, but they were the only one in our usual sample group who expressed anything other than annoyance at the keyboard's build. This may be a little redundant in the modern age, but the tweaked fonts and subtler keying means that the numerical keypad (which sits inside the keys) has become very easy to miss. We're not sure if we'd like to see a return to the two-tone stylings of the Curve 8520, or the differently colored letters of the Bold 9650, but it does feel as if we're not expected to make any phone calls at all with this device. DISPLAY We'll admit, it's been a very long time since we fixed our eyes on a 3.1-inch IPS LCD display for any meaningful period of time. Sadly, it's hard not to feel as if this is a regressive step, even if we can understand that it is the only way to accommodate the keyboard without adopting a slider mechanism. Unfortunately, the trade-off here is that everything's a little too cramped, with a claustrophobic environment that means even if you kick the font size down to 5pt, you'll only be able to see four or five emails per screen -- not to mention only being able to see one Facebook post at a time.
On the upside, the Q5 at least makes the best of its 720 x 720 screen, with a pixel density of 329 ppi to prove it's not the size, but the quality that counts. One thing we can't fault this phone for is the strength of its backlighting, which made things clearly readable in the harsh noonday sun even at half power. Then there are the strong viewing angles and the better color temperature compared to the Q10, so while we were wary of watching movies on this thing, it turned out to be a rather enjoyable experience nonetheless. CAMERA The Q5 comes with a 5-megapixel primary camera with a four-element, f/2.4 lens, plus 1080p video capture and the Scalado-powered Time Shift feature to help you correct errors in group photography. Before we talk specifics, however, it's worth mentioning two quirks in BB10's camera software that may blindside new users. First up, rather than tapping to focus, you've gotta drag around the targeting reticule in order to focus your images before pressing the screen (or the volume down button) to take the snap. Secondly, users can choose one of three aspect ratios for their images -- 1:1 is a square picture, which is equal to the Q5's screen with a relatively narrow focus. The 4:3 option crops off the lower quarter of the image and zooms out a little further, and 16:9, which heavily letterboxes the image, zooms out a fair way to give you a far greater depth of field. There's even a high-contrast Whiteboard mode to preserve your dry-erase marker scrawls in preparation for next week's TPS report The camera app is surprisingly powerful compared to Windows Phone and iOS 6, which will make you miss the absent first-party Instagram client that little bit less. There's a choice of creative photo filters, which you can add after the fact, adding sepia tinges -- there's even a high-contrast Whiteboard mode to preserve your dry-erase marker scrawls in preparation for next week's TPS report.
Like its bigger brothers, the Q5 comes with LTE bands 2, 4, 5 and 17 as well as HSPA+ and GSM/GPRS/EDGE, alongside its GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope and proximity sensors. Out here in the sticks, we weren't able to test the handset's LTE performance, but we found speeds were comparable to using other devices on Three UK's HSPA+ network. If you still use your phone to make calls, you'll find it adequate to the task, albeit with more distortion, clicks and compression than we're used to thanks to the coddling clarity of HD Voice. Given that the Z10 and Q10 both suffered from slow boot-up times, we shouldn't be surprised to see an equally pedestrian situation here. The phone took one minute and 22 seconds to launch from cold and a further 30 seconds to completely shut down. Long story short is that you'll be turning this thing off well in advance of when the pilot asks you to shut off all electronic devices before takeoff, and you'll be the last one to receive calls when you disembark. In our standard video rundown test, with the display set at 50 percent and WiFi on, the Q5 was able to last an impressive 12 hours and 34 minutes. We're big fans of gadgets with long battery lives, so this gets a big tick from us, even if we must attribute such longevity to the phone's undemanding 720 x 720 display. In the hands of a compulsive Twitter and email user like your humble narrator, we were able to abuse this handset for a full working day before resorting to a re-juice.ROD MURPHYhttp://www.amazines.com