Ever since I got my first BlackBerry (a Torch, over two years ago) I've been hooked. Sure, I was a little bit behind the original CrackBerry crowd, but being able to access email and internet on my phone? Awesome.
The time was approaching for me to look at an upgrade (as most of us do, whether we "need" it or not), and when I was contacted about testing out a brand-new BlackBerry Q5, I jumped at the chance. Some of my friends were surprised by my brand loyalty, but I think people can be a bit too focused on company stocks, trades and sales and lose perspective of the fact that what you really want is the best possible tool to last you for a few years, max. I'm not buying the company, I'm buying a smartphone. And as you'll read, BlackBerry certainly continues to suit my purposes nicely.
The appearance of the Q5 would put you slightly in mind of the Curve, with a screen and Qwerty keyboard both on the front of the single piece, only this screen is touch, and twice the size. (I actually quite like the look of it.) The touch screen and Qwerty are both must-haves for me now, after using them on the Torch, which automatically rules out many other brands.
BlackBerry calls the Q5 "gesture based", but in my own layperson's terms I think of it more as "swipey". Swipe your finger up to wake up the phone, and down for settings, etc. To the right: your message hub, to the left: all of your programs and apps. It's very comfortable to hold, and while I didn't exactly weigh them both, it feels lighter than my current Torch. Getting set up was an absolute breeze (especially the email accounts - just enter your username and password and you're hooked up). I found in the beginning that my Yahoo email notifications were delayed, but tech support helped me adjust a setting and now it's much better - almost real-time.
Some of my favourite features of the Q5: the "Remember" app - it replaces the Memo Pad and Tasks, and is also where I can record my voice notes (I use that feature quite a lot for Momterviews, or when interviewing sources for magazine articles - quite an upgrade from the old Califone cassette player that I brought home from work to use in the past!)
Storymaker is another cool feature that I plan to explore more. You can select any pictures, videos and music from your phone that you wish, and combine them into a video that can be edited with titles and effects like filters to polish it off.
Another amazing upgrade is the Time Shift feature that comes with the camera. You know how some cameras now will take a few rapid shots in a row, just in case someone blinks? Well, this goes one step farther. You can actually look at the shots that were taken with the Time Shift feature, and choose each person's best "face" to combine (e.g. Frannie looks best in shot one, Maggie looks best in shot two) and combine the faces together to create a photo that did not even exist before. Is that cool or what? There are also tons of editing tools, including the one I use the most, which is filtering pics (to sepia, etc.) Plus, this phone has both front and rear cameras...so look forward to a lot more selfies from This Mom! (You can relax: there will be no selfies.)
I also plan to check out the new BlackBerry Travel app, which can keep trip information all in one place - it might come in quite handy for an exciting fall trip I have planned!
I can honestly say that there is only one thing that I don't like about the Q5, and it's pretty minor: the free Twitter app doesn't currently include a "Lists" feature...and you know how important my Twitter lists are to me! Now, I could easily download a cheap app (like Blaq, which I believe is only a couple of bucks) but I'm all about the free apps, especially when just reviewing. (Speaking of free, the games that my 5 and 7 year old girls are loving: Bubble Buster, Jeweled, Word Search Blitz and...wait for it...Angry Birds Star Wars, of course!)
Music is something else I'll be figuring out shortly, but it's good to know that there is a way to put your iTunes music - or other music files from your computer - onto your BlackBerry as well, just in case you didn't realize that.
Something I learned from the experience of reviewing the phone is that actually reading the user guide is fairly helpful. I always figured that I just need my BB for basic functions, which I can pretty much figure out on my own, but in the blogging world it's good to know random tidbits, like the fact that I can capture and save a screenshot by pressing both volume keys simultaneously. Who knew?
I would highly recommend the BlackBerry Q5 for anyone looking to use a smartphone for the same functions as me (a mom, teacher, writer, blogger): phone, texting, email, web browsing, Twitter/Facebook, camera/video, keeping track of information, games (for the kids, of course)....what else do you need? In fact, I like it so much that I'm going to head to Bell asap to make the switch. If there's anyone out there who wants a two year old BlackBerry Torch, in excellent used condition, make me an offer!
Disclosure: I was provided with a BlackBerry Q5 for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.