BlackBerry Q5 First Impressions Review

One week in with the BlackBerry Q5 and here are some initial thoughts

By Adam Zeis on 12 Jul 2013 01:21 pm EDT

I have had a little over a week now to play around with the new BlackBerry Q5, the second BlackBerry 10 device to be offered up with a physical keyboard. We have a full review coming, but after a week or so of use I wanted to drop a few quick thoughts and my impressions of the Q5 so far.

I went straight off the Q10 to the Q5 and adjusted fairly well though it does have a few minor differences.

The BlackBerry Q5 is a great little device for anyone looking to get started with BlackBerry 10. Much like the BlackBerry Q10, the Q5 is the classic BlackBerry design featuring a full touchscreen on top with a physical keyboard down below. Out front the Q5 is packing a 720x720 LCD display at 328ppi, at the core sits 8GB of internal storage with 2GB of RAM and a dual-core 1.2GHz processor. All around there is more than enough oomph to make the Q5 snappy and responsive. 

The Q5 is running the same BlackBerry 10 OS you'll find on the Q10 or Z10 - nothing slimmed down or left out. So we won't really dive into the OS too much here as you all know what's there at this point. I'll just say that on the Q5 BB10 actually runs amazingly well. It's very smooth right from the start and I noticed no lag when navigating around the OS, Hub or in and out of apps. 

The hardware itself is great as well. The Q5 weighs in at just over 4 ounces so it's not too heavy and at the same time doesn't feel like it will break because it's too light. It's a bit longer than the Q10 but it still feels good in the hand. I was actually really impressed by the feel of the Q5 overall - it's super sturdy to the point that I wasn't afraid to drop it at all.

It's very easy to hold and the way the sides curve off into the back make it feel good and not at all sharp around the edges. It's definitely much slicker than the Q10 on the back however as it's flat plastic, so I did have some grip problems from time to time and let it slip away more than once. I did also have a few problems at first getting in both my microSD and SIM cards thanks to the tricky side slot on the Q5.

So far the battery life has been great for me during normal use. While it is a non-removable battery (more on that later) it still comes in at 2180mAh and should do the job for most users on average. I don't have too many complaints about battery life on the Q5 aside from the fact that I can't swap it out at will.

The keyboard on the Q5 I both love and hate. I love that it's the classic Curve style keyboard that I've been a fan of since I first had my Curve 8330. I won't argue the fact that all physical BlackBerry keyboards are loud to some extent, but after using the Q10 for a while (and coming there from the Bold 9900) I've become accustomed to a much quieter keyboard. The Q5 however is more "clicky" and a good amount louder - not a deal-breaker by any means but just something to be aware of. 

I like the layout and the feel of the keys. The keyboard itself sits a bit lower compared to the Q10 but it's still great placement and easy to type on. I had no trouble adjusting to the keyboard or cranking out long messages on the Q5. It takes a good keyboard design from older Curve devices and doesn't screw anything up in that department.

Some gripes I have are the lower resolution camera, the slickness of the device (by this I mean feel, not looks), the non-removable battery and lack of HDMI output.

The camera I can deal with in most cases, but having such an upgrade on the Z10 and Q10 over that of my old 9900 I really don't want to go back to a lower resolution camera.

As I said earlier, while the Q5 feels great in the hand, it's still a very slippery device. For the most part you can grip onto it one-handed but it's so smooth around the sides and back that is slips out of my hand more often than not. This is something that a simple skin or case can fix up though so it's not on my list of worries for most users.

Not having a HDMI output is a bit of a downer for me as well. This is something we have on the PlayBook, Z10 and Q10 and just kind of expect to be there on BlackBerry 10 devices at this point, but it was left out for a reason (cost most likely) and for many users who will be opting for a Q5 it won't be an issue.

Lastly on the list of my big gripes is the non-removable battery. The Q5 has a 2180mAh battery that is pretty top notch, but as with all my devices I love to have the ability to swap out a battery should I need to. I use my device a good deal during an average day and more so when I travel, so having a spare battery or two makes my life that much easier. With the Q5, the only option is to use an external charger should your battery hit the red. Being in the tech world I don't mind so much as I have plenty of power sources and can easily charge my devices, but for the average consumer having a battery that can be swapped out as with the BlackBerry battery charger bundle is a huge plus. 

So for right now here is my short list of pros and cons:

The Good
  • Lightweight, feels good in hand
  • Snappy and responsive OS
  • Keyboard is great despite the clicky keys
The Bad
  • Low resolution camera
  • Non-removable battery
  • Hard to grip at times

So that all being said, we'll be diving in to a full-on review in the next week or so. We'll get more into the specific features of the Q10, the pros and cons and more about who it's for and why you should or shouldn't buy it. Of course if you already picked up a Q5 be sure to hit up the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

BlackBerry Q5 First Impressions Review


I could have summed this phone in 1 line. No need for an article.

"If you can't afford a Q10, buy a Q5."

Done, no need for a lengthy article.

If that was all he had to say I wouldn't want it posted at all, but this article is great for those interested in the Q5 but maybe don't read CB every day or know much about the Q10 or Z10. Maybe they were just looking at phones, the Q5 was in their price range and they wanted to know more.
CB gets a lot of readers, not all are as informed as you may be.

Now if BlackBerry would price the BlackBerry Q5 more reasonably they could sell these like ice cream on a hot summer day. Good review Adam.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

There is like 2 phones with QWERTY keyboards, this and Q10. Obviously if you can't afford Q10 you going to get a Q5.

But seeing that no one is buying blackberry phones according to latest quarter, it seems both phones will be same price very soon!

" Obviously if you can't afford Q10 you going to get a Q5."

Except... as pretty much every single UK review has pointed out, even though it is cheaper than the Q10, it is overpriced by about £100 for its natural audience.

What does it matter? Irrelevant to my argument on top of that, not like you have a choice in qwerty keyboard smartphone. Either stick with an old BB7 or get a Q5. Blackberry has monopoly over these.

Nobody forced you to read it, as your one sentence summary sounds a lot like you made your opinion the moment you heard the first time about the Q5...

Posted via CB10

The only reason to get the Q5 over the Q10 is cost, nobody will argue that. However, the purpose of the article was to explain in detail what you're getting by going budget. The Q5 includes obvious compromises and this article points them out clearly. If you wanted a Q10 because of its high(er) resolution camera, and didn't know they cut it for the Q5, you'd be disappointed that you weren't informed beforehand. I could highlight others but if you want you could just read the article.

This is a surprisingly short, concise review which just highlights the differences compared to the Q/Z10. You seem way too upset and defensive over this.

No that's not the only reason and price is no longer a concern. The Q5 and Q10 are surprisingly close in performance and features!
My reason, one of them, for replacing my Q10 with a Q5 is the keyboard as I like the Curve and Torch style keyboards over the Bold style .

Your probably right but I'm pretty sure every business that has bes10 will be getting the q5 for the employees (except upper management)

Posted via CB10

I am thinking of getting a Q5 having never owned a 10 so I found this article excellent as I wanted to know the difference. It answered all my questions. Your comment about "If you can't afford a Q10 get a Q5" is rediculous. I could afford a Q10 but thanks to this article I realize the 5 specs are more than enough also considering I can probably get the Q5 for free with rebate and very very little monthly cost plan this is an absolute no brainer. If I ever want the 10 I am sure I can do a swap at that time. I own playbook so the No HDMI here is no big deal.
Thanks for the write up Adam.

interesting idea.. or you can just buy an extra battery for your Z10. You can prob buy 10 batteries for the cost of a new phone.

True!! But I don't want always lug a extra battery with me (I'm not always walking with a bag around) and with the smaller screen and the bigger battery it will stand two to three times longer than a Z10

Posted via CB10

You guys don't get it, The whole point is that it has a shitty battery life and the need to have a battery in my pocket every day along with my z10, gum, keys, wallet and other things is retarded. Why should I need to have an extra battery because of a design flaw BlackBerry made?

Mensaje puesto por mi Z10 chingon

Have you used the Z10 with the latest OS Updates? Battery life was greatly improved in the last months. I can get through the day easily now which wasn't the case at the beginning. I don't need a spare battery anymore.

We do, atleast in Lithuania. I dont get whats wrong with z10 battery... it lasts me full 24h and lasts much longer then my previous iphone5 and sgs4. I just think u demand too much from a phone, phones are supposed to last a day, not a week :) btw, mine is 1st version, that is without lte, so that greatly improves battery life.
And no, BlackBerry didnt do a design flaw with z10, it has great battery, lasts more then a day. So what can u ask more?

Posted via CB10

Great! just bring it to Canada now...

Have a z10, getting an a10 if the specs are an improvement but want a q5 for a beater

Posted via CB10

I would have totally bought this phone but no removable battery makes it an automatic no buy. PLUS, the extremely ridiculous price.

You sure you need to review this now?

Sounds like you covered all the basics of the hardware and the os is well, very good.

I like this phone a lot.

Apart from the _ _ _ _ _

The "average consumer" probably will not run out of battery however if these are targeted to the younger crowd that plays games and watches videos you have to wonder. Get ready for battery complaint threads...

Posted via CB10

I see BlackBerry is back to their frustratingly random naming/numbering game . . . "the Q5 is the second BB10 phone with a physical keyboard" . . . wouldn't it make more sense for it to be a K10 or a C10 or etc rather than a Q5?

(and, yes, I understand one is an os designation and one is a hardware designation, and iphone 5 runs ios 6, so I get it, but still for the first models you would think it could have been more consistent)

I think they just want to maybe put the Q of "qwerty" in front of all their keyboard devices? Maybe the Q10 successor will be named the Q15 or Q20? I could be wrong about all that tho

Bolds and Curves both had physical keyboards with different names since they differed in the "quality" (for lack of better word) of their keyboards; hence the suggested K10 (for "K"eyboard, or C10 for "C"urve, etc) thus differentiating their build but maintaining the 10 to correspond with the new BB10 OS that they want to market. No biggie, just an observation (worth about two cents).

That isn't such a good idea overall, as it would lead to confusion. Is the K10 better or worse than the Q10? Using the letter to designate the type of device makes a lot more sense, as it's easy to tell that the Q5 isn't as good as the Q10.

Of course, my reasoning gets thrown out the window with the rumored A10 being applied to their upcoming flagship model. I don't think it should be part of the Z series because it is going to have a bigger screen, but again it can lead to confusion. How do I think this could be resolved? A 3rd digit.

Take something like Z100:

Z = Device Type (Z = touchscreen/no keyboard, Q = keyboard, S = slider)
1 = Generation (1 = BB10, 2 = BB11, etc)
00 = Model (think like how nVidia/AMD name their video cards - "90" = Premium, "70/80" = Performance, "50/60" for mainstream, etc.

Just my idea anyways.

I figured the Q5 indicated it's like "half" the phone the Q10 is. Like it's a cheaper version of their qwerty phone.

Posted via CB10

I checked out a demo unit in the new Blackberry store, and I must say that the screen is the same as the Q10, and so is the whole OS experience with the touchscreen. But as soon as I started typing something, the build quality could be noticed. The keyboard isn't a pleasure to type with, and to top it off, it was "moving". It wasn't snuggly fit into the bezel like the Q10. This was a noticeable problem in the 8520 as well. This issue needs to be addressed.

I also noticed this "lateral slip of the entire keyboard" while watching hands-on videos ( I can't recall which video/review it was). And I also would like to hear from Adam about this keyboard issue, since this movement will be very frustrating for heavy keyboard users, who are the main audience for Q series.

This is part of a proven design. And not a hardware or built quality issue. The buttons do sit all on one piece of plastic underneath the grid through which they stick out. Most cheaper phones with buttons are designed this way. You can only reduce the slippy-ness if you build a tighter grid, but then the buttons might get stuck sometimes. So, don't worry about this part. It's really not a big deal while typing because you press on top of a key and not sideways where the slippy part starts.

As an engineer manufacturing electronic devices which have keyboards, solution will not be tightening the frame which keys go though, it's better to fix the entire key group. And generally fixed through keyways to the board underneath. But decreasing assembly tolerances usually increase labour costs, either manufacturing costs of the keyboard itself or assembly times, which is critical when manufacturing consumer oriented devices.
The problem is not about the functionality, it's rather about the solidness, feel of the device in hand.

yeah, that's the other possibility to fix the whole part at some points. But then the question arises, why they don't do it? It's not only BlackBerry Curve models which have this "trait". Could it be that it's one more step during assembly that makes the process more expensive? Two more screws.. ? I don't know. But I think that most people don't mind about such things. If it works they can live with it.

This is also done for differentiation of the higher end. Consider a rock solid Q5, would'nt it steal from Q10 customers? I would'nt mind an amoled screen for my mobile, IPS is not taht bad.

Q5 is a horrible name. Yes it's a budget phone but u don't want to make your customer feel inferior (half the power of a q10)

Posted via CB10

I really liked the keyboard on my Curve 8330, but not so much on my Bold 9650. Are you saying that the Q5 keyboard is more like the old Curve 8330 than the keyboard on the Q10?

Not a bad phone but the price is so stupid. Over £300, really? That means it's competing with the Galaxy S3. It doesn't have a chance until that price comes down.

Are you sure it's the same price point? Its that much bought outright and on a new device. Not last year's.
I think they could have saved some money on the q5 by keeping it with a 3g radio. I mean if this us supposed to be a budget device.
Leave the lte for their top tier devices. In most cases 3g is mire than plenty imo

Posted via CB10

They're both ~£350 brand new. S3 may be last year's flagship but last year's flagship is always better than the latest budget phone, and indeed the S3 has better specs, more apps, bigger screen, better camera, more memory, and so on.

Your average customer is highly unlikely to choose a Q5 over a GS3.

+1. Crazy is he who will choose q5 over s3. A brand new Samsung S3 is cheaper now here in UAE than BlackBerry q5.

Posted via CB10

Hopefully if they add miracast with 10.2 (it's getting 10.2 right?) , the lack of HDMI will be less of an issue.

Posted via CB10

Should be the BlackBerry C10 for curve

Least then it gives impression of being in line with other devices

Posted via CB10

Nice review, Adam. :)
I have no BlackBerry Q5 with me, but after reading the previously posted BlackBerry Q10 review by Kevin, in my opinion, Q10 will have a better battery life compared to Q5 (with comparably the same average daily use) because BlackBerry has planted a super AMOLED display technology with exactly same size with Q5 (720px x 720px) to Q10 which could be more energy efficient especially when we are using the black/darker color theme so that the LED lights in the super AMOLED display will be turned off to create the pure black/darker color instead of producing black/darker color like the LCD display did.

In Canada on Fido u believe it's just at $400 to buy outright. That's cheap for this caliber if phone imo. Like i mentioned earlier. To truely save cost they should have kept it with 3g and made it maybe $20-30 cheaper. Maybe a $0 phone on contract!

Posted via CB10

Blackberry is screwing up big time with its pricing for BB10 phones. The management needs to understand that Blackberry is already weak on several fronts, the most important being ecosystem. It simply can't lose on the pricing as well. Pricing should be their strong point where people see value in the phone itself. I agree that this might reduce gross margins in the begining but Blackberry might able to sell way more BB10 devices which is very important to get key developers on board. There is no point in being greedy right now with the margins. If Blackberry can't sell enough devices with upcoming products, I am afraid, it's game ove for Blackberry. Blackberry needs to create momentum and it needs to do it now. One more thing Blackberry management is screwing big time is with Brand loyalty. When Blackberry prices its devices higher, it is basically telling its loyal fans to pay higer prices for its devices. This has also angered many loyal fans, especially in the emerging markets where BB10 phone are very expensive. We all know how Blackberry has already screwed up with plyabook upgrade.

I agree.. I don't think they get it with the pricing.. they should lower the price so people will buy it..its simple as that.. a lot of people I know are staying away from BlackBerry cuz if the phone prices.. I bought my Z10 full price cuz I was still under contract with my bold 9900.. I feel like they promote the keyboard phones more and left the z10 owners in the background...too bad Z10 is a great phone but BlackBerry can't let go of the past glory... theyre releasing os7 phone and might bring back track pad... that's not the way to move forward...

Posted via CB10

@Adam, can you comment on the space between the kb and screen on the Q5 vs Q10 (no space) and also do a side by side comparison video doing regular tasks to show what the real world difference of the lower specs means? ie. does it mean you have to wait 2 extra second to load a webpage or 1 extra seconds to check your hub, etc?

What language is on the Q5 keypad, other than English?

It looks really interesting, infact, quite alluring.

The q10 bezel is to small for using swipe gestures precise...q5 uses cheapest - environment? - plastic with no grip and a keyboard that makes click sounds - know the last point from the palm WebOs devices and it is a real downside ...all these little mistakes plus overpriced are frustrating and I'm not getting why bb are not doing it simply right from the start.

How do you reset the device. I had to pull the battery once on my Z10. How would you get around that on a Q5?

I am aware of that feature but the phone completely froze and I could not reboot it with the button.

Have you spoken to the carriers or anybody who has a possible solution to reset the device?


Thank you for the write up on the Q5. I haven't personally tried the phone. But if it's like my old curve then I wouldn't be interested. But to be fair I should try it anyway. I've tried the Q10 and I think the keyboard is silky smooth and effortless to type on. However I find my Z10 has a better typing experience. The predictive and learning capabilities of the Z is really unmatched. I have one question. Will blackberry come out with a mid range all touch device? I think blackberry should cover the emerging markets with an all touch device also. Your comments would be insightful. Thanks

Posted via CB10

well, if I can't afford a q10, I'm just going to have to save some money until I can because there's absolutely no way I'd buy this. I understand why BlackBerry did this, but I don't understand why anyone would buy it.

Posted via Q10 on CB10

The pricing for the BlackBerry Q5 makes no sense. Off-contract should be CAD250.00.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

It's been released in India. Equivalent of about $450. Crazy. They are offering interest free and no deposit. It's like buying a car. Put the Indians into debt for a phone. Seems crazy, but hey it's Blackberry in 2013,

That swipe bezel looks larger too. I think blackberry realized they screwed up the q10 with the minimal swiping room. They should re launch new hardware and fix that, call it "the q10 2". Or "the new q10"

Posted via CB10 on my Z10

LV, you will be glad you waited. Have had my Q for two months now - simply excellent unit that will only get better as OS updates come out.

(I must be an odd one out, I see no need for more than 1 phone at a time?)

As for Q5, quality/price...agreed price should be such that it is comparable to its closest competitor - all other things being somewhat equal. However when its 15-30% higher than the competition, not a good place to be for a company to be.. attempting to claw back market share. You sure as hell dont gain said share by higher pricing..especially when you're up against droid.

Get smart - Fast BB.

As commented earlier - you will eventually gain by having a user increase - to do so, only way is to offer comparable tech at world beating price.

DilBit Powered Q10... 10.2 where ya 2 bye??

All your cons can be solved by buying a Q10. If you don't want to spend the money then the trade off is a lesser device...

Posted via CB10

I also agree pricing is a major concern pulling people back to the blackberry brand should be the number 1 priority but instead these guys are pushing customers away the thing is this is considered a low end phone and should be treated as one and priced as one I have no gripes with the direction in terms of certain devices I love my Z 10 it's the most addictive device I've ever used and the the q is amazing but the prices are a really a bit overwhelming, blackberry please do something about your prices drop them so the brand pulls more people and it stays relevant or if this is the way your guys wanna do business and decide to make your bed then lie in it

Posted via CB10

This first impressions review is excellent. Not super detailed like the full CB reviews, great to get an overview of a device at a glance.

The Q5 is obviously for people who can't afford the Q10 and still want a keyboard and OS10!

I think that it looks like a great phone, but... I like to swap my battery when I'm out and about!

I think I will stick with my Z10

Posted via CB10

In general, I feel quite happy about the Q5, and at this price point, it is a great phone (As Q10 is unreasonably expensive, like the bold line).
But I am still not happy about the email image attachment re-size problem and can't send out more than 2 images (attachment) from my company mail, hope blackberry can fix these bugs on or before OS10.2

Posted via CB10 from Q5


Did you forget to list the absence of an HDMI port on your "bad" list? You only mentioned it in the text... Apart from the builtin battery this is the second biggest issue for me... with the Q5.


Posted via CB10

Very Nice, It’s definitely something that is much needed in the market for BlackBerry. Variety is king. Looking forward to the A10.

Nope. Sorry. Its the Z10 for me! Not going back to a physical keyboard! Especially the days when more and more employers accept personal phones ad work phones, I'd have to be crazy to give up my Z10! With BlackBerry Balance the problem is solved. Once your IT department turns on the features you can have one device for both personal and professional use. I know several people who have done this, including my mother. She now uses her Z10 at work...and even she would not go back to a physical keyboard!

The Z10 rules!

Posted via CB10

Picked up a Q5 in South Africa last week. The machine does exactly what I want it to do. The keyboard is responsive and the OS is reliable. Battery life is amazing so far, much like the Playbook. The understated "boring" look that everyone complains about is a load of bovine faeces as it's lack of "bling" makes it instantly appealing. I refuse to get a high end phone like the Q10 when the Q5 does what it's big brother/sister can do.

Posted via CB10

It looks hardy and I think it is - will probably do a good job with early adopters.
This is also a devide that I could live with - I love keyboard sounds - clikety click...

I have Q10, Q5 and Z10. All are great phones. Q5 is slippery as Adam mentioned but not a big problem. The only problem is I always mis-pressed the right side volume controls...

This problem could be solved by using OEM soft shell case or hard shell case (so called premium case).

Sad that BlackBerry couldn't hear it's rabid keyboard users. The trackpad was brilliant and provided ease in navigation we'd come to rely on. I won't be getting a Q10 or a Q5. Instead, I'll use my Bold until it turns to powder in my purse.

The Q5 needs to be marketed at a lower price point. It's a great way to get the "not so sure crowd as customers. Make entry into the BlackBerry 10 experience as inviting as possible.

Posted via CB10

Regarding the battery. I don't think the average consumer cares. At least what an average consumer is to me. My non tech friends can't possibly care about a removable battery on their older blackberrys since they never buy a spare anyway. So average consumer phone, screw that battery swap. For technical and business users, buy the premium device instead. I think the play makes sense to me given that.

Posted via CB10

Hi I had buyed new Q5 but there is a problem I'm facing the led is not working for network like in previous there was a option were it was showing green color light, in this Q5 only red light show but as notification only, I'm from indian so kindly help me out as I went in blackberry store also but the present excutive says, we don't know about thi Q5 n we didn't oprate yet, so it is a compalin of mine

Posted via CB10

I've had the Q5 for a week now and I absolutely love it. I had a Curve 9360 which was great, but I wanted a larger screen and also a touchscreen without losing the keypad and without having to pay an arm a leg for it, such as the with the Q10.

See see my good people Q 5 is good, it is lite and stronger than Q10 . So all I can say is that I love my Q5 no matter what people say thank you

Posted via CB10

Still no TRACKPAD!!! What is this pathological resistance to trackpads? Some of us LIKE trackpads! RIM sales numbers have NOT improved since abandoning trackpads.

I have a problem now
of my q5 when I've turn on after the name logo come out I can't swipe up and right anymore....

Something tells me that the Q5 is best product so far from BB, You won't believe it, in less than a 3 months after buying my White Blackberry Q5, I have bought more than 8 Q5s for my friends. Everyone loves it.

Posted via CB10