• Blackberry Q5 Review: Not exactly a little brother

    In the automotive world, the Q5 makes perfect sense: "He" gets the A5 and "She" gets the "Q5". "Her" needs are different because she will drop the kids off at soccer practise and pick up the groceries. It's a great strategy to keep the brand in a given family unit. No longer do you need to go to Chrysler or Honda for that other vehicle; you can shop at Audi for all of your transportation needs. In case I've lost you, Audi is a car manufacturer and they have an SUV model called the Q5. And the gender references aren't intended to offend but merely as an illustration (I drive the minivan in my family).

    And once again for those with the ultra short attention span, the Q5 (Blackberry this time) is one of the best communication devices available but has success highly dependent on price. If carriers gave this phone away for free, Blackberry will claw back market share.


    Blackberry Family
    In my analogy above about a brand family, we know that Blackberry currently has 3 offerings for it's BB10 operating system: Z10, Q10, and now the Q5. Does this mean that "Dad" gets the Q10 because he is on the go and uses the practical keyboard to get his messages sent quick and fast? And does "Mom" use the Z10 for the larger screen to look at what's on sale at the outlet mall? It is entirely possible that the "kids" are awarded the Q5 to allow the entire family to communicate via BB Messenger. Like I said, if the pricing of the Q5 is such that it's a "disposable" expense, then Blackberry has hit the nail on the head. This younger generation can text better and faster than writing cursive with a ballpoint pen. With the entire family in the Blackberry brand, this opens up opportunities for a broader product roadmap that spans a couple generations. It's the same way that Apple is capitalizing on the iOS ecosystem/cult: once you're in, it's tough to get out.

    The logical extension of this is the corporate enterprise world where Blackberry is preferred. With the blip in technological progress during the iPhone/Android launch, my theory is that RIM at the time could not catch up leaving a gap that still exists today. This gap is about shareholder and end-user confidence. I have yet to hear a success story about BB10 exceeding information security requirements. This leads to my assumption that this new Blackberry Q5 is like that odd cousin that just doesn't make sense. To equip a small business, a "free" price point for the Q5 makes a compelling business case. But unfortunately at the enterprise level, the Q10 is the best choice making the Q5 ignorable to say the least. It will not help Blackberry get into the black.
    Bros before holes
    I imagine the Q5 to have been born before the Q10. The materials and finishing lead me to believe Blackberry had a significant inventory of prototype Q10's in their warehouse and needed to liquidate it somehow by calling them the new Q5. It's like they were just about to release this Q5 when somebody wanted carbon fibre thus birthing the Q10.

    In a nutshell, the Q5 appears to be the Q10's older brother. The Q10 filled the functional holes left in the Q5 -- again this is my theory. Let me explain.

    The biggest difference between the two is the absence of the removable battery in the Q5. This is a gap in the Blackberry lineup that doesn't make any sense. Consider how interchangeable batteries could draw the brand users together. You're out camping and have run out of juice on your Z10... next door their teenager has a Q5 that had a battery to save the day. The world is one again. Uggg...


    The second most notable difference that I need to emphasize is the display: the Q5 is brighter and crisper. Remember that I'm not one to get caught up in the technical specifications - my perspective is an average consumer that makes judgement calls by eye and touch rather than right-side-brain. The Q5's display performs better outdoors compared to the Q10. This is what will leave Q10 users wondering why they jumped the gun. The display is a super critical part of the device. This could be the fundamental differences between IPS (Q5) and AMOLED (Q10)

    Last but not least are these items on the Q5 I noticed on paper but not in practise:
    - 80 more mAh of battery juice
    - 0.3 Ghz less horsepower
    - 3 MP fewer eyeballs on the rear camera
    In my opinion, the average user won't notice these discrepancies. It will depend on what the final price tag is.

    QWERTY

    I am a big fan of physical keyboards on communication devices. I'm typing this review using a keyboard and I pop in my debit card pin using a keypad. Perhaps their days are numbered but in the meantime, we're using keyboards extensively. I prefer the Q-series over the Z-series for this very reason. And I grew increasingly frustrated with the Q5's keyboard performance. The button-feel and feedback are poor compared to the Q10 even though my expectations weren't high.


    GPS
    Here is something that I noticed in a shootout: the navigation software of BB10 is better than Android and iOS. I certainly hope more reviewers give this function a deeper look as more users employ turn-by-turn navigation. While on my way home the other evening, I started off by entering the same destination on the Q5 and Nexus 4 operating on the same carrier network.

    The Q5 told me about a traffic incident ahead of me (albeit too late for me to change course) and turn notifications came appropriately early. When I deviated from the path, I did notice the Q5 didn't recalculate as quickly as on the Nexus. But for traffic, the Nexus showed me a red line indicating congestion but there was no audible alert. And to my surprise, I found the Nexus to be about 30m behind the Q5 for turn notifications. Don't get me started on the mistake Apple made with their Maps app.

    Conclusion (perhaps of the corporation)
    There isn't anything more I can say about the Q5 because it's still running BB10. It's a very good operating system that has an enormous amount of potential. Blackberry is dependent on the developer network to do their magic in order to keep up with iOS and Android. But if the Q5 is priced at $0 on a 2yr contract (or is at least $200 cheaper without the handcuffs), then Blackberry has a clear winner in the marketplace. That's aggressive and is what the corporation needs. It is worth taking a few points off profit margin.


    As a phone, it does the job. For email and text messaging, it does the job better than smartphones with a soft keyboard. And as an emergency camera, it does the job not to mention I can still kill time with Angry Birds while on the can.

    For what I do less frequently, web surfing needs a larger display or a smarter rendering of content. And that's about it. All in all, the Blackberry Q5 is at the top of my recommendation list for communication devices. It's not perfect by any means but everybody has a price. Against the Q10, I'd still grab the Q5 to save cash because you're not sacrificing anything.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Blackberry Q5 Review: Not exactly a little brother started by serenaray View original post
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Mann Incognito's Avatar
      Mann Incognito -
      My wife has a Q10, I have a Z10 despite being the long time PK user in the family and I love the VK. I can almost type as fast and "flicking" words into a sentence speeds things up even further once you get the hang of it. I like the Q10, it's solid and feels like a high end phone and the keyboard, despite being flatter, feels as good as the best BlackBerrys in the past. On a recent trip to the UK I spent some time with a colleague's Q5 and while it matches the Q10 in most performance metrics it lacks in tactility. It doesn't have the heft of the Q10 and it lacks that polished feel of its more expensive kin. I've never been a fan of the "chicklet" keyboards of the various Curve models throughout the years and the Q5 doesn't improve on them one iota. Well, perhaps the extra space between the keys makes things more comfortable, but speed typing on this puppy is pretty much a no-no, the keys are far too "domed" and lack tactile feedback. The keys have a robust click to them too, another one of my pet peeves. All in all I'd step up to the plate and get the Q10 if budget wasn't a concern. But if it is, and I'm thinking I'm not really the demographic BlackBerry had in mind either, then it does have some compelling arguments behind it to at least consider.
    1. Supa_Fly's Avatar
      Supa_Fly -
      Howard,

      This is the most solid, candid and fun review I've read on these forums in a VERY long time! I enjoyed it.

      Lots of good thoughts and insight put here.

      I agree on almost everything except I perceive the Q5 as being made specifically for a target market in various markets that fit a specific need. Reliable and dependable communications at a low cost without feeling cheaped out on features.

      That said the Q5 also lacks the MicroHDMI port yet gains on MirrorCast Support (like the Q10) which the Z10 lacks - something that ERKS me REALLY bad as a Z10 owner (5x over - others I've bought for) and as a diehard+died+reborn fan for BlackBerry.

      At the end of the day smartphones are as much to end users as fashion accessories, status quo or cliq matching (think red or blue bandanas for yuppies; polo/guess/etc). People want to enjoy their smartphone - like a good pair of comfortable jeans or joggin pants (getting basics done fast and reliably) yet they want it to look just as appealing, fresh and fantastic as day one. This is why the Q10 feels just perfect - it won't have a success in less than 10mths from now (2mths on the market).

      Quote Originally Posted by Mann Incognito View Post
      My wife has a Q10, I have a Z10 despite being the long time PK user in the family and I love the VK. I can almost type as fast and "flicking" words into a sentence speeds things up even further once you get the hang of it. I like the Q10, it's solid and feels like a high end phone and the keyboard, despite being flatter, feels as good as the best BlackBerrys in the past. On a recent trip to the UK I spent some time with a colleague's Q5 and while it matches the Q10 in most performance metrics it lacks in tactility. It doesn't have the heft of the Q10 and it lacks that polished feel of its more expensive kin. I've never been a fan of the "chicklet" keyboards of the various Curve models throughout the years and the Q5 doesn't improve on them one iota. Well, perhaps the extra space between the keys makes things more comfortable, but speed typing on this puppy is pretty much a no-no, the keys are far too "domed" and lack tactile feedback. The keys have a robust click to them too, another one of my pet peeves. All in all I'd step up to the plate and get the Q10 if budget wasn't a concern. But if it is, and I'm thinking I'm not really the demographic BlackBerry had in mind either, then it does have some compelling arguments behind it to at least consider.
      well said ... 150% agreed on the BOLD highlighted.
    1. Big Ang's Avatar
      Big Ang -
      One big difference is the screen of the Q10 is closer to the keyboard than the Q5. While this doesn't sound like much, it probably makes a difference when swiping words from the bottom of the screen to the top.

      Was the Swipe feature more difficult to use with the Q5? Was there a difference?
    1. IheartBB10's Avatar
      IheartBB10 -
      The ultimate blackberry would be one side is blackberry 9900 with screen and keyboard, and rear is full screen android device. It's OK if it is thick as long as both sides can use same data & mobile connection. I would pay $1000 for this phone.
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