Hands-on with the BlackBerry Q5

We get our hands on the new entry-level BlackBerry Q5!

By Simon Sage on 14 May 2013 12:52 pm EDT

The entry-level BlackBerry Q5 made a big splash at BlackBerry Live 2013, and they were showing them off in a wide range of colors. The red model is taking front and center, of course, but there's also white, black, and pink versions ready to go. 

So, what do you lose from the Q10 in order to slash the pricetag? No HDMI out, non-removable battery, a drop down to 5 megapixel camera from 8, 8 GB of storage instead of 16, and LCD rather than AMOLED display. We haven't heard much about processor speed, but in my cursory fiddling with it, I had a hard time spotting any lags. The overall feel of the device is very smooth and slick - fairly plasticky compared to the Q10, but the rear curve was very comfortable for typing. As for the new keyboard style, I adopted to it relatively quickly. The keys definitely sit lower here than on the Q10, but that's hardly a bad thing.

It sounds like the Q5 is hitting emerging markets before North America, which is entirely sensible, though it's hard not to be jealous of such a wide array of colors. I wouldn't mind being able to pick up a red Q10 at some point... So, what do you guys think? Will this cement BlackBerry's presence in places like Indonesia and India where cost is a deciding factor for handsets? 

Reader comments

Hands-on with the BlackBerry Q5


What's the point of making a "budget" device for kids when BB still has no apps.... This money and more importantly TIME should have been invested in fixing the BB10 OS and creating a native Android app installer.

Wow eh non removable bat, does that really keep the cost down? I feel it should still have that option, the hdmi isn't the biggest deal to lose until it becomes more used and known hut the battery damn

Posted via CB10

most markets in developing country, HDMI support is not a priority like you said. And mostly likely they won't buy extra battery anyway so non-removable battery kind of makes sense.

But all the Curves before had removable batteries AND were affordable nonetheless. So I don't quite understand the argumentation at the end of this video. Removable batteries should be a standard regarding a sustainable usage of the world's resources. It would show that BlackBerry cares about this.

BBRY needs to save money where they can. They're a business and businesses can't survive by selling phones at a loss, which is what they had been doing with the legacy phones.

How does no removable batter keep costs down? Since I don't need a high end phone, this was the phone I was going to get but no removable battery completely killed for me. I will stick to the 9810.

A removable battery means the customer will likely hold on to the phone for a longer period of time instead of purchasing another phone or trading up to a higher level BB. Keeping cost down are "weasel words" used to give the appearance BB isn't in need of sales. Imagine if the iPhone had removable batteries, sales would take a hit for sure. Plus having to shell out money for Apple Care to put in a new battery is so high you think "I might as well put that money toward a new iPhone in a few months." Sad but it's business.

And that's the point where BB should distinguish and find a way where it's not only business but business in harmony with sustainable usage of precious resources.
We are draining our planet so fast. It's just madness to go on with these short life cycles of devices.

The fault is not with the businesses but the customers. Don't be fooled. Businesses are in it for money. They have shareholders who demand return and need funds to keep making the next new thing and pay employees. They hire marketing experts to help sell devices and they do a darn good job. They market new features and functionality only available on this next device. It's our responsibility to take that information in and then decide if that decision is right for me to wait and use what I have or get caught in the marketing trap of having to have the next new thing right now. If customers stop rushing out to buy the next phone or device and use what they have, businesses would push out less hardware. We control the market not businesses. Remember how Apple customers we pissed the ipad mini came out right after the last ipad. Apple took a lot of flack. Customers are finally catching on. In the famous worlds of Captain Planet the power is yours.

:) Yeah, maybe I've watched too much of that series. But if BB would be promoting that it's a green company, I guess it would do them no harm. And why should they only react on the customers demand? They could proactively educate their customers, that it's the right way to pay a bit more for their devices with removable batteries and keep them longer than a year or two to help reduce the exploitation of our resources. Somehow I see a hen and egg problem here...

+1, non removable battery on a BB phone imo is prejudicial for consumers, especially deciding to hit it on the "low end" handsets. I was thinking on getting a q5 for a family member if the price was reasonable but this put me off (+with bbm going cross platform, unless the q5 is for 150Euro, there are quite the alternatives out there).

I think you guys aren't the seeing how things truly are. Maybe you guys are Blackberry loyalists? I don't know, but removable battery is great for the consumer in every single way. It's pro consumer and is extremely convenient, how does that speak of the company? bad. One reason why I prefer Blackberry over iOS, Android and Windows Phone is those amazing benefits and pros, removable battery, expandable storage, all ports, all standard ports and all devices get timely updates. If you take any of those away those are less reasons to be a BB consumer.

I meant all devices get all the updates the phone can actually handle with all the features and are bug free, unlike iOS and Android.

I think you may be misunderstanding my point. I want the removable battery I think it's an excellent idea to help keep your product longer and not have to spend a large amount of money getting another one. But why would a company give removable batteries to a lower end phone. They don't want customers of these lower end phones keeping them for 3 or more years. Just maybe a year or 2 tops then they are forced to get the next lower end phone or upgrade to the "big boy" BB phone with removable batteries. While you think it's unfair it's not smart business wise. How do you think Apple has so much money. Yes they have good products but none of their batteries are removable. If you try to remove it you void the warranty. That's how they sell newer iPods and iPhones even when you have the previous model. Most times they release an updated OS software that kills the battery life of the older devices and puts the user in a space of dealing with a near dead device throughout the day or spending $300 or more on a new device that has better battery life and the new software/features. If Apple had removable batteries I guarantee you 80% of the users would not upgrade so fast because they would still have great battery life of their current/older devices. I know people with extremely old BB phones. They use them because they just replace the battery and say "Why should I upgrade, my BB still works fine and I have two backup batteries just in case it dies.

Even if it's smart business wise to build products with non removable batteries it doesn't mean it's good. At some point this way of maximizing profitability to an extreme and not caring a bit about environmental sustainability should be stopped. And that's something the Apple-friendly media just ignores. Even here on crackberry was it ever a subject in a blog post? I know these are subjects nobody wants to discuss for long because it gets tedious fast.. Maybe if we all would get a few hundred years old we would care more. For now all that counts is new things to play with it seems..

Sadly you are correct. It's hard to care about the environment in the mobile industry when you're bleeding through money and trying to hold to every little bit of market share as BlackBerry is. It's no excuse but it happens and is happening.

The reason why it's not mentioned is because sadly America and probably Canada and other countries that are sheep and blindly go for Apple, don't care about the environment or anything of actual importance, they just care about money and other superficial and materialistic things.

Crackberry doesn't mention certain things because they are biased towards Blackberry.

I don't think you get it, why would a consumer buy a product that doesn't give them the convenience, benefit and pro consumer thing that is removable battery when others do? why would I buy a product that I will very likely have to replace in a year or two instead of being able to keep as long as I want or until something happens to it that makes it unfixable or too expensive too fix?

You might think, hey, no removable battery makes the consumer who buys the product have to replace his phone in a year or two which means more buys for BB, but how does it mean more buys when people won't buy the phone because it gives them an anti consumer thing like no removable battery and means they have to replace the phone no matter what if the battery gets weak? and it would also speaks negatively of BB as a whole which means it is less appealing to consumers which means less buys of their products and bad word of mouth.

Apple sold a lot of iPhones because they were the first ones to do what they did and the only ones so consumers didn't have other options, and even when competition came, most didn't know about them at first. Also, because Apple products are fashion and a trends and they somehow got the sheep to be like them. But look at iPhones, so much negatively towards them because they actually do anti consumer and greedy practices and there is competition now that also has quality but actually do pro consumer practices.

Everything you said here is exactly why I don't own any Apple products and never will until they change, also the same reasons and others as well to why I don't do Google or Microsoft. And why I go Blackberry. If BB went the greedy or anti consumer way they will lose me as a consumer.

The non removable batter means less in production costs. They can integrate it right in without having to have added contacts, an extra layer of plastic to protect the inside while the batter door is off, and the molding of the plastics to not worry about making sure of connection points is cheaper to design and implement.

If the phone is relatively cheap, we won't see people hanging on to this phone for long...
I have friends who bought the cheapest bbos curve to try out the system n bbm and only to see them upgrade to bold 3 or 4.
Not many are hanging to their curve for long and buy a new battery to replace the old one on an old curve.
This might translate of selling more curve than original battery when the time comes to replace their phone.

I have to admit the argument of people won't likely to buy extra battery for the Q5 is weak. I'm sure the BlackBerry design team went with fixed battery because it's cost effective.

You guys seem to forget that it allows for a larger battery, with 300 mah increase over the z10 plus smaller screen, and the less battery intensive processor will give this phone a very long battery life, it makes a lot of sense to me

Posted via CB10

Curves were selling at a time BlackBerry was still relevant and popular, so extra batteries and accessories were more prevalent in stores. This is no longer the case. BBRY is fighting for their life.

Posted via CB10

Battery door removal doesn't matter anymore now that no need for battery pulls. If your a "power" user should be getting the Q10 anyways. The big thing with keeping the low cost is the monthly bill. I have been getting crushed in data charges. That is more important to me than how much the one time charge is.

Posted via CB10

I have owned two Androids with HDMI and never touched the feature even once (never even bothered to buy the adapter despite it being cheap).

It's not a big deal even for owners of higher end models.

I'm wondering how much it will cost in North America. My mom doesn't need the Hdmi and such and if this is priced right it would be perfect for her, she just uses it to communicate.

Posted via CB10

North America may never get the device at all, look at some of the later bbos launches like the 9790 and 9320 where NA carriers skipped those entirely or got it much later in the case of the 9315.

The 9790 was released in Canada. I have one. However, the Q5 is geared more for markets like Asia, where those kinds of colours are very popular.

Same here, but we would have had to develop an app months ago to get the free upgrade form the beta phone.

This is good. Seems this model would replace the 8500 line. Were I live there a ton of these models out there, they range in plans from BBM only to full internet. It's great to see that all those customers would upgrade to new 10 devices.

If you want removble battery, HDMI and all that get the Q10 or Z10. The Q5 is clearly for a different segment

Can't wait to get my hands on this thing! Hopefully Blackberry can launch in Indonesia earlier...

Posted via CB10

What about the loudspeaker? Different quality comparde to Z/Q10?
I am not sure if i like the back of the phone...cant be that expensive to give us a good palm feeling...

Mine is still here, don't think it's the update in general. Oh wow, and just saw the new pointer for the first time... sweet!!

Posted via CB10

I can understand everything except for the storage drop. My Z10 has already been short on space for a while. To further limit space and reduce the amount of apps that can be downloaded/ bought will hurt the all-important app ecosystem.

- I did this with my Z10! -

Most low-end Androids (which this phone is competing with) don't offer more than 2 GB of internal space (they often don't even mention how much internal space they have), and rely on a micro SD slot (usually with a 4-8 GB card included) to make up the difference. Android apps can't be installed to external SDs without root access to intervene. The general assumption is that low end Android owners won't be buying those big games that take up 200 MB+, they may just settle for a few free apps that are less than 50 MB each.

When you look at that, 8 GB of INTERNAL space is very generous.

non-removable battery is unfortunate, yet totally on-par with most competing devices. TBH, skipping the removable back-face as a 'feature' and saving 8GB of storage in productions could mean a 5-15 dollars saved per unit, which translates to an affordable price tag and hopefully higher sales.

if you want a high-end qwerty with outputs and slightly higher specs, get the Q10.

Lots of people will want to get their hands on this device, but, I personally have a few minor complaints I suppose. The first being about the non removable battery; I think this is a potential bad idea when it comes to BlackBerry. Hopefully that's changed now, I just find myself doing a lot of battery pulls on my Z10's.
The second complaint would have to be the size. I know its just video, but when the device is sideways, it looks thick. I'm thinking that the plastic plays a role in this, It just seems disappointing, but I do understand size constraints on entry level devices. This really is a first of it's kind device, and it's going to be interesting watching it's success.

This will be a good phone for the mid market use. Looks like they are going with a few devices and not going over board.

Sticks with the new marketing strategy they were talking about this morning.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10!

Send the Z5 to U.S. when that comes out :) We are always the last anyway, we use to be the first. We wait for all full touch screen Z5. :)

1. Branding sucks. The new devices are labelled as "10" because of the OS - BlackBerry 10, Z10, Q10... etcetera. It's the Q - "10" because it runs BlackBerry 10. What OS does the Q "5" run? It runs BlackBerry 10? Does it run it half as well as the Q10? BlackBerry continues to struggle with branding. This should have been called the C10 (maybe for Curve...) or something else. Q5 will create confusion for people's mothers and for parents buying a first phone for their kid.

2. Does it cost half as much as the Q10? If it costs half as much - it's still too expensive to compete in these markets. The Nexus 4 costs $299 for crying out loud and similarly powered Android phones are coming in at $100. BlackBerry needs to price this thing at about $199 but at this price it can't make any money.

3. Nice to see BBM going cross platform three years after it mattered.

4. Woefully disappointing presentation. More substance than form - New STEM scholarships, Formula 1 drivers, Bentley cars, wow... these guys seem to be completely oblivious.

Sorry for the negativity, I complain because I care.

Yeah, is going to be a challenge when you compare it to the nexus 4, by then with BBM.

Point 4. This is the US. So what does BBRY do? It has the German CEO hold the stage for far too long, then tots out a Bentley (British German car) with an info-tainment system that might impress I don't know who, then it has not one, but two German guys talking on ze stage (ze Mercedes guy), then a Svidish guy comes in to drone on and on how no one has what BBRY has (he would now, since he has been with the company for only 9 months), then to cap it we have a French guy who looks kinda angry (badmouthing his own company and how bad things were before he came along), and to cap it all, we have Alicia Keys who makes fun of the french guy and laughs like a school girl.

Well done! I think the nailed my feelings on the presentation. Bad mouthing your own company in public is distasteful, particularly when you are using it to prove how much "smarter" or "better" you are at your "impossible" job. He blahs on and on about branding - while the Q5 has basically no branding rhyme nor reason to it. I agree with the rest of your post too - particularly Alicia and her giggling about having a "boss".

Parents will know that this is the latest BlackBerry out and not the Curve. They won't care which OS it runs and neither will most of the kids, as long as it has the "peek thingy" I bet they'll say. Too many 10's will confuse people. The Z10 & Q10 even confuse my local Vodafone store manager.

The black looks really good. I love the rugged look. These phone are great entry BB's. A great homage to the Curve series

Very smart move. However non removable battery does not sound too smart. But still if priced right that this device will prove to be a big hit here in India.

Posted via CB10

Waiting to get this for my wife, she wants a pink or red one. Hopefully it gets to South Africa soon!

Posted via CB10

My teenager daughter would love a pink Q5 from her 9310, hopefully brought to the US markets this year *fingerscrossed*

yeaa I saw that.......like Q5.. its runnin BB10 after all. should have mayb stayed with the R ...R10

Great decision to make an entry level BlackBerry for emerging markets. I would have to wonder why, if they did not make this move. Good work BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

The lack of removable battery and HDMI is likely a cost-cutting measure, as is the use of LCD screen vs. OLED, the 5 MP vs. 8 MP camera and so on. Same goes for the "finish" or look not being as nice as Q10. Sacrifices had to be made, and they chose what some would consider "luxuries".

Let's face it, some of the biggest competing phones out there have non-removable batteries, and who is complaining? Not many will use the HDMI feature. The introduction of different colors is BRILLIANT, finally they realize people want some choices. Blackberry is looking more alive today than ever... and going in the right direction.

i'ts funny that he didnt ask

For CPU Type + Ram !

Non the less I posted a thread on the specs of Q5 on Q5 Section + Q10 Section

Yo Simon.

I think you need to correct Q10 to Q5 here

"I wouldn't mind being able to pick up a red Q10 at some point..."

Why rim still making new phones if now they sending our exclusive BlackBerry Messenger to iphone and android. When that happens I'm done with blackberry for real

hmmm only issue I see is the non removable battery. why oh why? so no more battery pulls. but whats the size of this non removable battery?????

No he has it correct. Simon wants a Q10 but it doesn't come in Red like the Q5. He is hoping the Q10 gets released in Red like the Q5 has

Considering there is no price on it yet I think BlackBerry is about to price it top high and waste an opportunity.

Posted via CB10

The Q5 could work.. especially for teens and I believe theses will be used by a load of teens, the non removable battery seems weird though correct me if I'm wrong but 1200mah battery is a bit low is it not? I'm using a Z10 which has 1800mah and this lasts me near to 10 hours. The design on the other hand is growing on me though I didn't like it at first but I think it's growing on me especially the white one and my Sister agrees on that!

Posted via CB10

Load of teens? Until, and if (big if) BlackBerry gets back on it's feet, there will be very few teens buy anything BlackBerry branded. If you think having a red or pink option will do the trick, you're sadly mistaken.

i dont get it u make a flagship phone like the z10 with a small ass battery and u make a q5 a cheap phone i might add with a bigger battery than your more expensive phone when is blackberyy going to stop walking backwards

I think this device hits the perfect sweet spot. I know it's not ideal for most of us (the early adopter, q10/z10 crowd), but it'll be cheap cheap cheap and that's great for non-power users who just want a cheap smartphone. There is a huge market for this kind of phone, even though you and I would likely never, ever buy one.

Posted via CB10

As long as battery life is >20hrs for normal use then, non-removable battery may not be an issue as long as this device come out cheap and cheerful

I hope they release the new BB10 phones in Argentina soon, I don't understand why we have such limited options here, if you go to the streets and look around, ALMOST EVERYONE is using blackberry... they should take advantage of the situation here being so different from the rest of the world

Because BB10 is not primarily about BBM. The OS is phenomenal. If you only want BBM then buy yourself a 9320 which has a dedicated button.

I think the Q5 is gonna be an amazing addition to the BB10 line. BlackBerry has pretty much covered all bases now with the current lineup. The Z10 and Q10 are higher-end phones that appeal to most people, while the Q5 is great for those emerging markets where the legacy BlackBerrys have usually been pretty popular. Now all we need is a Z5 to round out the options, and I think BlackBerry will have a pretty solid chance at grabbing a good chunk of the market in those places.

I guess it will sell well in Indonesia, but lots of Indonesians keep their BB because BBM. Now, with it will be available cross platform, I started to get worried

Posted via CB10

Actually yes the battery is non removable and for me that would be a deal breaker. But Apple seels phones where you can't remove the battery and sells devices like hell (ok app experience better) but this is great for emeging markets or for teenagers who want to BBM. Good choice and actually looking pretty nice.

This will bring blackberry back as a cheap resilient business device. Cheap android phones go wrong a lot in the industry low end blackberries are still the choice for most go team blackberry

Posted via CB10

BBRY needs to educate their reps a little better... that dude didn't really sound like he truly knew the features and specs of the Q5...

Is there an app that tells you the minute crackberry post a new article, cause by God I will get first one of these days!!!

Posted via CB10

Yup BlackBerry better recapture their market share in Indonesia. They've been losing market share to Android. Android phones cater to the various strata in society - from cheap unheard of variants to the more expensive ones.

In the past BlackBerry used to be the de facto leader. So here's to hoping BlackBerry can reclaim their throne.

Posted via CB10

while removable battery is really convenient, i still don't have a spare battery for my curve 8900 after using it for a good 3 years. never a problem for me.

one thing good about removable battery that people seems to forget is when your device suddenly acting up (freeze, etc.) and the power button doesn't work. just pull out that battery. always works.

What would be better than a battery pull is having a reset button like I had on my Palm devices . However I found that BlackBerry have a Ctrl-Alt-Del command. Hold down the Alt, right shift, and Del keys at the same time and that reboots the device .

Posted via CB10

I dunno, I actually like the way the black one looks. Hope it becomes available in North America as well.

I'm feeling this phone. I had the iphone for years and I don't know what the battery looks like. I have the Z10. This can be my secondary phone cool

For these markets,

BB should have gone dual SIM as well.
Many of these markets are almost all prepaid and the dual sim androids sell like hotcakes due to the cheap on-network calls.

When can look to buy this BB Q5 and at what price point? Being that it is for emerging markets, are we looking at $200-$380 AUSTRALIAN off contract??

I love the extra space on the gesture area. Should have done that for the q10. It's not the greatest looker but I'd have been happy with this phone except the deal breaker - Non removable battery. Im not going to support a hardware maker for odd decisions like this.

I can partly understand if any of it has anything to do with weather sealing / water proof etc.

Interesting, he said it has a hot swappable MicroSD slot AND SIM? Hot swappable SIM could be quite handy for the international traveller.

Keep hearing curve. When did this ever get compared to a curve. Hahaha looks are appealing to today's generation, he'll look at girls hair its the same colors all in one. Still sticking to my Z10 maybe a Q10 to trade between.

Posted via CB10

I like the space between the KB and the Screen...should have been the way the Q was designed, but otherwise I don't see the big appeal of this device... maybe as a free phone.