BlackBerry has long been the king of QWERTY handsets. While the advent of smartphones caused many to shun physical keyboards, opting instead for flashier touch screen interactions, BlackBerry have realised that there is a genuine use and market for physical buttons even now. Business users in particular see the benefit as a well designed keyboard is quicker to type on than any touch screen.
While BlackBerry 10 (the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system) launched on the touch screen BlackBerry Z10, the company have since returned to their roots with the QWERTY friendly BlackBerry Q5 and Q10. If you want a physical keyboard and don’t want dated software then these are your only two real options, so which should you go for? Read on to find out.
The BlackBerry Q10 comes with a 1.5GHz dual core processor and 2GB of RAM. That amount of RAM is comparable with top end Android handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and while the processor is only a dual core that shouldn’t really matter as this is a handset that is firmly aimed at business users, so the fact that it may struggle with HD games and videos is pretty much a non issue. The processor it has should be more than enough for web browsing, emailing and viewing and editing documents.
It also has an 8 megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p video at 30fps, 16GB of built in storage and a micro SD card slot to help you out if you need more than that.
The BlackBerry Q5 has a slightly slower 1.2GHz dual-core processor and the same 2GB of RAM. That’s actually not as much of a drop in power as we’d expected to see given that it’s a mid range handset and BlackBerry will presumably want to differentiate the two, but that’s good news for consumers.
The BlackBerry Q5 does lose out a bit more in other areas though, as it only has a 5 megapixel camera and 8GB of onboard memory- though again there’s a micro SD card slot to bulk that up.
Both handsets have a 2100 mAh battery, though while the one in the BlackBerry Q10 is removable the one in the BlackBerry Q5 isn’t.
The BlackBerry Q10 looks like the premium device that it is with a glass weave back plate and a narrow silvery strip near the top. It also has the same metallic strips between each row of keys on the front, which both looks good and helps separate the keys for easier typing.
The BlackBerry Q5 looks fairly similar to the Q10 at first glance- though it’s slightly longer and fatter, however it lacks the premium finish found on the BlackBerry Q10. There’s no metal or glass weave in sight. The back is plastic and the keyboard doesn’t have those distinctive metallic strips. It still looks okay and very much like a BlackBerry, but it’s not going to impress anyone.
Both the BlackBerry Q5 and the BlackBerry Q10 have 3.1 inch 720 x 720 displays (making for a pixel density of 328 pixels per inch). Not all screens are made equal though as while the BlackBerry Q10 has a Super AMOLED display and the rich contrast that comes with it, the BlackBerry Q5 is lumbered with an inferior LCD screen.
Price and Value
The price and relative value of the two handsets is perhaps the biggest factor, as they’re not competing head to head- the BlackBerry Q10 is undoubtedly better and is positioned as such, but with the right price the BlackBerry Q5 could still prove a tempting alternative.
Right now the BlackBerry Q10 will set you back upwards of £500 SIM free and is available free on contract from around £35 a month. That puts it right up there with the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4 for price.
The BlackBerry Q5 hasn’t been given a price yet but we’d imagine that it will be at least £150 cheaper, in which case based on the specs it may well be the better buy if you’re budget conscious.
While the BlackBerry Q10 is the better handset in pretty much every way- from build quality, to specs and screen, it’s not necessarily that much better in the areas that matter most. Yes it has a faster processor than the BlackBerry Q5 but only slightly and the RAM is the same. The camera on the BlackBerry Q10 is better too but given that both handsets are primarily aimed at business users a camera doesn’t seem all that important.
Both handsets run the same operating system and the battery is the same size in both handsets. The BlackBerry Q10 has twice as much onboard storage, but since both come with a micro SD card slot that’s not a huge issue.
Then we come to the display and while the colours will be better on the BlackBerry Q10, the size and resolution is no better than on the BlackBerry Q5.
The build quality is a big difference but it has minimal impact on how the two phones actually perform, so while the BlackBerry Q10 is flashier, the BlackBerry Q5 should still be perfectly functional.
Whether these numerous small sacrifices will be worth making depends both on what you want the phone for and on the price. Unfortunately the price is something that we can only speculate on for now. So too is the key point of if and when the BlackBerry Q5 will even arrive in the UK, but if it does and if you can wait for it then it may well present better value for money than the BlackBerry Q10.
On the other hand if you want the best QWERTY phone around then the BlackBerry Q10 is unquestionably it, but for the amount it costs you might want to consider an iPhone 5 or high end Android handset instead. Sure you’ll miss out on the keyboard, but the specs will blow the BlackBerry Q10 away.