Will the BlackBerry Q5 Succeed in the Youth Market?

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The BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) Q5 is here, and it looks as though the device might end up striking out with the demographic it had hoped to reach: the youth market. According to Forbes’ Ewan Spence, it’s “Too Much Function, Not Enough Fashion.”

The Q5, along with the Q10 and Z10, now represent BlackBerry’s three-pronged attack at gaining in different segments of the smartphone market: the Q10 is aimed at BlackBerry enthusiasts, usually older, who use their phone for business; the Z10 is the entry into the conventional, modern smartphone market; and the Q5 is meant to appeal to younger, hip smartphone users.

The Q5, along with the Z10, represents BlackBerry’s attempt to steal some of the younger users from popular smartphone makers like Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). The phone uses BlackBerry 10, its proprietary mobile operating system, on a physical interface, which has more in common with the Q10 than the Z10.

The Q5 sports the usual specs for a modern smartphone with a 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. Like the Q10, which has specs slightly higher than the Q5, the new phone has a physical keyboard. Since a physical keyboard in the modern smartphone age is one of the biggest differences between the Q5 and its biggest competitors, it’s as important a feature as any on which to focus.

Spence describes that while the Q5 and Q10 appear very similar physically, the keyboard is anything but. He explains that even though the Q10 keyboard was just about its best feature, “the Q5′s keyboard is missing all the good things that made the Q10′s keyboard a joy to use.”

His early assessment is that the keyboard just isn’t made as well as the keyboard for the Q10, possibly in order to differentiate it from the more expensive Q10. “It doesn’t impart any confidence in the keys,” he says, which is a hugely important factor that consumers often overlook. Additionally, he questioned whether the phone would hold up through extensive use as it just didn’t feel as reliable as the Q10′s keyboard.

According to Spence, the BB10 isn’t as snappy as other mobile OS’s, though it’s certainly not hugely noticeable — although he does say that the phone is noticeably slower when compared to the Z10 and Q10. The Q5 sports a 720×720 screen, which appears to have less brightness and vibrancy than the Q10, with Spence admitting that the screen dimensions don’t necessarily make for a compelling video-playback experience.

The main difference with the Q5 is the BlackBerry Hub — an iOS or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-like pull-down section that gathers emails, social media, messages, alerts, and updates. Of course, the mere fact that it is so easily comparable to an already available feature of iOS and Android shows that the Q5 isn’t smashing any boundaries. Additionally, the BlackBerry World catalog — the BlackBerry’s app store — didn’t exactly impress Spence either.

Regardless, Spence says that the phone isn’t necessarily bad — it’s just not very original or exciting. While the Q10 is much better according to his testing, he can see the Q5 being used in a corporate environment by consumers on a budget. The phone just isn’t likely to steal away an iPhone or Samsung user any time soon.

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