A beautifully designed phone with a disappointing camera
Design and first impressions
The Aquaris X5 is a light, thin, beautifully designed device. The screen is great for a phone at this price point, and the blend of materials - a rounded metal frame and soft plastic back - make this handset look and feel 'premium'.
The screen won't blow you away but is fine for watching YouTube clips in bed.
There are also plenty of nice touches, such as an automatic colour temperature adjustment mode that cuts the impact of late-night phone use on your sleep patterns.
It does this by turning the screen colours a warmer yellow hue in the evening, thus cutting your exposure to the blue light that's emitted by screens and that is proven to affect sleep quality. This feature can be tweaked manually or turned off.
We were impressed by just how quickly and effectively the display adjusted its brightness to the light level of the surrounding environment. Especially for such a cheap phone.
Battery life and software
The X5 is fast and responsive and perfectly capable of coping with anything I could throw at it. With the exception of cutting-edge games with lavish 3D graphics, which visibly put it under strain.
The X5 we were given for review ran CyanogenMod. This is a version of Android that gives you more options to customise your phone, as well as enhanced security and improved privacy.
I liked CyanogenMod a lot. It's just the kind of uncluttered, no-nonsense operating system I could happily live with.
There are a number of little touches that particularly impressed me. I especially appreciated the option to set different privacy settings for particular apps. So much so that I'm now adamant this is something that should come as standard in all phones, instead of having to resort to third-party apps.
x5 screenshot 1
x5 screenshot 2
x5 screenshot 3
Screenshot 2016 03 08 14 51 24
The X5's battery life was excellent and you can also use the built-in energy-saving profiles to suit your usage.
bq x5 photo 1
BQ X5 Photo 4
BQ X5 photo 3
BQ X5 photo 2
It's inevitable that with a phone at this price point, corners will have been cut somewhere. And as is often the case with budget phones, on the X5 it's the camera where compromises have been made.
That's evident in the fact you really need a steady hand to avoid blurry pictures. The camera is also slow to focus and it struggles in low light.
It's possible that software updates will go some way towards improving the camera's performance. This is something that big brands, such as Sony and Samsung, do regularly to address shortcomings with their phones. But it is less certain that the X5 will receive the same level of support.
Let's keep things in perspective: this is a device that you can pick up for £130 on pay as you go, has a large screen and is perfectly adequate for casual gaming and internet browsing.
So who is this phone for and how does it stack up against the similarly priced Motorola Moto G?
For us, the Moto G's design isn't anything like as appealing as the X5. It's thicker and heavier. But it is a dependable Android phone with a camera that will produce acceptable photos more reliably.
I'll put this it this way: the Moto is the type of phone I'd chuck in the backpack for a walk in the woods.
The BQ X5 is more at home in a suit pocket. Or maybe as a company phone to give your sales team.
Fast, responsive system with enhanced customisation options
Good battery life
May not get Android upgrades as fast as major brands
Doesn't feel quite as good in the hand as we're used to