BlackBerry Q5 review: The apprentice

GSMArena team, 26 July 2013.

Social networking

The BlackBerry Q5 comes with a full array of social networking apps out of the box, as the company has finally realized that social networking is important for both regular folk and businesses these days.

The Facebook app shows you your wall by default but you can easily check friend requests, messages and notifications. Posting a new status, image and checking in are equally easy. You can access more from the menu button in the top left.

Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5
The Facebook app just wraps the mobile site

If you're wondering why the app doesn't use the standard BB OS 10 menus, it's because it just encapsulates Facebook's mobile site. Still, it works well enough.

It's the same with the Twitter app. It displays your timeline by default, but you can also use search, see what's trending and so on. Posting new tweets is easy and you can snap a new photo right within the app itself.

LinkedIn is a native app that allows you to post, look for connections, check your inbox and more.

Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5
LinkedIn app

Foursquare is a native app too. It lets you check what your friends are doing, search for cool new places and see how you're doing (your stats, badges and so on).

BlackBerry Maps

BlackBerry 10 comes with its own map application with map data sourced from TomTom and TeleCommunications Systems.

The app only features regular maps - no satellite images or street view. It can show traffic information, but there's no public transport or pedestrian navigation support. The database of places and venues isn't nearly as rich as that of Google Maps and the maps load pretty slowly too.

In fact, map coverage outside the US is spotty, but at least the search function has been improved. It looks for places near the location you're viewing (e.g. if you search "London" first then "Times Square", you get lots of Times Squares in the UK, but not the one in the US).

Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5
The BlackBerry Maps application is not very good

The Maps application does have voice-guided navigation though. It requires an Internet connection. You can tweak the route planning algorithm by telling it to look for the Fastest, Simplest or Shortest routes and to avoid highways, toll roads, carpool lanes or ferries. Night mode can be enabled, disabled or set to activate automatically.

You can add favorite places (Home and Work get special treatment) to find your way faster. If a contact from your address book has location info, you can quickly navigate there too. But you can't pick a point on the map and get a route to there.

Overall, our experience with BB OS 10's Map application is improving bit by bit, but it's still a long way from catching up to Google Maps, in terms of map data and speed.

BlackBerry World has all the apps, music and movies

The BlackBerry World app is your gateway to over 100,000 apps for your BlackBerry Q5. While not as many apps as Android and iOS have (or even Windows Phone), many of the major names are available.

World is not too different from the Google Play Store. It shows featured apps on top of the screen, then two featured categories. Below that are Trending apps & games, Top paid games and Top paid apps.

Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5
Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5
Browsing and installing apps at BlackBerry World

You can browse just games or just apps, which also reveals the Top free items of that category. Speaking of categories, both apps and games are sorted into genre categories, if you're looking for a specific type of app/game.

Apps and games usually come with at least a few screenshots and a description. You can also read user reviews, complete with a star rating.

We already mentioned that BlackBerry World has a respectable number of apps for a new app store, but a good portion of those apps are Android ports (BlackBerry was handing $100 to devs who port their Android app to World).

Unfortunately, BlackBerry OS 10.1 didn't update the Android version and apps still run in Android 2.3. Android 4.1 is coming at some point, possibly with BB OS 10.2.

Running apps through an emulator is not an ideal solution, but it's the only way for a newly launched app store to quickly get a respectable number of titles. If the BB10 lineup does well, we are sure many developers will release native versions of their apps sooner rather than later.

Just like Google's Play Store, the BlackBerry World offers more than just apps - you can buy music, movies and TV shows from here. You can just rent them too. No HDMI port means the only way to play movies and TV shows from the Q5 is DLNA.

BlackBerry Q5 also offers a Games center, where you can track, share and compare your games progress with your friends.

Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5 Blackberry Q5
Games center

Next Page »