BlackBerry Q5 review: The apprentice
Full-featured office package
The BlackBerry Q5 comes with a full-blown Office document editor - you wouldn't expect any less, would you? It's called DocsToGo and can both view and create Word and Excel documents. It can edit PowerPoint presentations too, but cannot create new ones.
The Word editor has all the text formatting features you'll need - everything from the standard bold, italic, underline through text justification, text and background color, font and text size, super and sub scripts, to list and paragraph styling.
The Excel editor works with multiple sheets, cell formatting and formulas, though we would have appreciated a formula auto-suggestion of some sort. We're no Excel gurus so typing out the formulas by hand out of memory was a real challenge.
PowerPoint presentations can be edited too, but only for small tweaks - you can't create new presentations from scratch or even add new slides.
Adobe Reader is on board for viewing PDF files.
The BlackBerry Q5 also came with an app called PrintToGo, which despite its name does not print documents. Quite the opposite in fact - it aims to replace printing on paper altogether. It does this by showing up as a printer on your computer. Then, all you need to send files to your phone is... print them to this virtual printer device.
All that's great for the Q5, but we think there is a lack of a cloud solution. Sure, you can sync your docs through Dropbox or Box, but Windows Phone has cloud integration with Microsoft's Office 365 and SkyDrive services and Android has Google Docs. These services handle both cloud storage of files and editing them online in the browser too, something we would have appreciated on the BlackBerry Q5.
At the time of writing, there are no official apps for Office, SkyDrive or Drive integration, though there are third party apps that do support them.
The organizer is a big part of every business phone and BlackBerry OS 10 has a worthy calendar.
The BlackBerry Q5 calendar app uses a dedicated sidebar for navigation between the different view modes. To bring the sidebar up front you can use the virtual shortcut at the bottom left corner or just swipe to the right. There are six view modes - Agenda (a list of all events), People (events sorted by who's attending them), Day, Week and Month.
Each event has a reminder and can change your status for the duration of the event (Busy, Out of office, etc.). Viewing an event shows you three tabs - event details, invitees (invitations are sent over email) and emails related to that event.
While the calendar is good at scheduling things, it's not that great at keeping notes and other info you might need. This is where Remember steps in. You can add items to Remember from the app itself or just flag something in the BlackBerry Hub.
Each entry can be assigned to a folder (and folders can be color coded). Entries start off pretty simple - a subject and some additional notes, plus a message if the entry was added by flagging something in the Hub. From here you can add due date info, attach a photo, a voice note or any file. You can tag entries, but there's no easy way to sort entries by tags.
The Clock app features the same clock as the Bedside mode on the lockscreen. Notifications for incoming calls can be disabled in Bedside mode, for when you really need your sleep.
You can switch to a digital watch face if you prefer. You only get one alarm, you'll have to use calendar reminders if you need more. The alarm can have a repeat pattern and a customizable snooze time.
The Clock app also has a World clock, stopwatch and a timer.
The BlackBerry Q5 also has a Calculator app. It's slightly more advanced than most stock calculators with memory, square root and brackets visible by default. Results from your calculations go on a strip of "paper" that gets ripped off when you hit clear. Swiping the virtual numpad brings out the advanced functions.
The app also has unit converter and tip calculator modes.
The Weather app pulls info from AccuWeather and shows the forecast for today and the next four days. You can add multiple cities and see an hourly forecast too. The app switches between a bright blue and black backgrounds depending on whether it's day or night in the selected city.