Skip to main content

BlackBerry Q5 Hands-On: A Budget-Friendly BlackBerry for the Masses

ORLANDO -- Rumors that BlackBerry was working on a low-cost handset aimed at emerging markets held true this morning as BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins unveiled the company's new Q5. Previously rumored to be called the R10, the Q5 sports many of the same specs that the rumor mill spurted out earlier this month. The handset, like the more up-market Q10, packs a physical QWERTY keyboard and 3.1-inch display and BlackBerry's BB10.1 OS. But that's about where the similarities end.

The most recognizable difference between the Q5 and the Q10 is that the Q5 uses a plastic chassis rather than the handsome metal and glass weave found on the Q10. The decision was clearly meant to keep down cost, but it makes the handset feel rather chintzy. Material aside, the Q5 will be available in black, pink, red and white. The Q5 also comes equipped with a 3.1-inch LCD display rather than the AMOLED screen found on the Q10. And while colors on the Q5 were less vibrant than those seen on the Q10, the Q5's screen appeared slightly brighter than the relatively dim Q10.

MORE: 14 Essential Tips for BlackBerry 10

Cameras on the Q5 include a 5-megapixel rear-facing shooter, down from 8-megapixels on the Q10. Both phones offer the same front-facing camera. We were disappointed to learn that the Q5 has an enclosed 2,100mAh battery rather than the removable unit found on the Q10. BlackBerry has also placed SIM and microSD Card slots on the phone's left edge. 

Internal specs for the Q5 include a 1.2-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 2GB of RAM. That's a slight downgrade from the 1.5-GHz processor used in the Q10. Fortunately, we didn't notice any degradation in performance between the two units. In fact, home screens flew by without a hint of slow down on the Q5.

Overall, the Q5 seems to be a solid smartphone for BlackBerry fans. BlackBerry still has a good amount of success in many emerging markets, but unfortunately many consumers in those markets were unable to afford the Z10 and Q10. With the addition of the Q5, however, those consumers should have be able to grab the phone they want.