Touch and Tell

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SummaryBlackBerry Q5 marks the return of QWERTY

BlackBerry Q5 marks the return of QWERTY

Touchscreens are everywhere, but there is a demand for smartphones with physical keypads. While virtual keyboards are excellent, physical keyboards give you an extra degree of control over what you type. That extra control matters especially in India, where people often type words from different languages in the same sentence.

Despite this, one often wonders whether phones with physical keypads can deliver a comparable, if not better, experience in an age of predictive text and improving dictation software? BlackBerry has launched two phones to answer that question. While the Q10 costs Rs 44,990, the Q5 is slightly more affordable at approximately Rs 24,990.

Build and Design the Q5 makes a good first impression with its excellent 3.1-inch touchscreen, well-spaced keys, and reasonably lightweight frame (120 gram). BlackBerry has cut some corners with the build — the phone body is made of plastic. It is almost the same size as the 4.2-inch touchscreen Z10 and fits well in the palm. But the excellent rubberised back panels found on the Z10 and Q10 are missing here. The Q5’s plastic back panel and keys add to the phone's lack of a premium feel.

BB10 relies on fluid transitions when switching from one home screen to another or when switching between apps. The Q5’s smooth touchscreen complements the OS very well. The BlackBerry logo is well-placed — between the keypad and the screen. This creates space for the swipe-up gesture, which lets you exit apps in BB10.

Software

When we reviewed the BlackBerry Z10 a few months ago, we had mentioned the lack of apps on the platform. The situation has improved quite a bit, as most popular apps are now available. However, some of these apps feel like they are bad ports of their Android versions. The native apps, those built from ground up for BB10, are excellent. Popular Google apps such as YouTube are not available on BlackBerry World. The pre-installed YouTube app is actually a bookmark. It opens the browser and takes you to m.youtube.com. The phone features integration with cloud storage services Box and Dropbox, and both work very well.

The most important feature of the Q5 is the BlackBerry Hub. It links all your email, social networking accounts and text messages in one place. The standard red notification light is just above the screen. It blinks every time there is a notification. Although helpful, it

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