BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review

BQ's Aquaris X5 features a sleek metal design but are the photos it captures as impressive as its design?

| BQ Aquaris X5 in Camera Phones
BUY NOW BQ Aquaris X5

BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Taking A Selfie

Chances are, you won't know the brand name BQ but as they're now offering a very reasonably priced smartphone range in the UK that also comes with a five-year warranty, they're a company that really should be on your radar. The brand actually launched in 2010 and five years later, the small team were operating across 8 territories and they also produce the third top selling smartphone in Spain. 

BQ's new smartphone range ‘Aquaris’ arrived in the UK last year and the two models: X5 and M5 are available exclusively with 02 on contract or as a sim free options for £79.99 and £129.99, respectively. They can also be purchased sim free via the BQ website . 

On test we have the BQ Aquaris X5 which features a rather sleek metal design, 5inch screen and curved edges but can its camera capabilities impress as much as its looks? We take a closer look to find out. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5


BQ Aquaris X5 Handling & Features 

The BQ Aquaris X5 is a really smart looking phone that's a decent size and available in a range of colours. The back of the X5 is made from plastic but the sides do feature aluminium which looks particularly nice in the rose gold colour the model we have on test features. The plastic back doesn't flex and actually, to say it's a budget smartphone, the X5 doesn't look cheap and feels well built. In fact, it could be mistaken for an iPhone if you don't look too closely. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Back

The X5 is light, weighing just 148g, and is easy to operate, even one-handed, although when taking photos, it is best to hold the smartphone in both hands.

As the X5 runs the Cyanogen operating system, Android fans will be familiar with the controls and how the device runs / looks and actually, even as a fully-fledged iPhone user, I found the X5 easy to navigate and use once I'd played around with the controls and options. Apps respond quickly, which is probably down to the fast processor, and the camera, something we'll come onto in more detail later, is simple to use and again, is quick. 


Key Features

  • 13MP Sony BSI CMOS sensor, f/2.0 lens
  • Double LED flash
  • 5inch screen, 720x1280
  • GPS / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
  • FullHD video recording
  • 5MP front camera, f/2.0 lens
  • Selfie LED flash
  • HDR / Panoramic shooting
  • MicroSD slot
  • 2900mAh battery
  • Aluminium frame


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Bottom

Inside the X5 you'll find 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory which was plenty for an afternoon of capturing images and video in the park. Battery usage is rated at two days and after charging the battery on the morning of 6 March and spending, at least, three hours capturing video and images on 7 March, the battery is still alive and kicking today (8 March) which is incredibly impressive and definitely wipes the floor with the iPhone's battery life which I'm lucky if it lasts 1 day. 

The screen on the X5 is an impressive size and offers a decent resolution but it is constructed from Dragontail glass which some say isn't as good as Gorilla glass found on smartphones which sit higher up the cost ladder. There's no fingerprint recognition either but as you can set a password or pattern you have to input to open the phone, it's not a feature that's really needed. In fact, this feature is something that's just cool to have really rather than been a vital piece of technology. As for sharpness, it's pretty good and the viewing angle's also impressive, too.


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Top

As will all smartphones, bright light can be an issue as it causes bad reflections on the screen but the X5 actually has a rather impressive auto brightness setting which uses a sensor above the screen to work out how bright it needs to be. Plus, you can also alter the backlight brightness level manually if needs be. 

The screen's colours can look a little saturated (bright) with the red on icons standing out particularly well but this doesn't occur in images captured with the X5's camera which is good. You can also alter the temperature of the screen, should you so wish, to give it a warmer or cooler tone. 

Other nice touches include the soft keys found on the front of the phone, something quite a few Android devices now feature, and a front LED notification light that you can glance at to see if your phone's charged. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 In-Hand

BQ Aquaris X5 Camera Performace 

There are two cameras on the BQ Aquaris X5: 5MP selfie camera and a 13Mp back camera that's powered by a Sony sensor. The back camera features a lens with a bright aperture of f/2.0, same as the selfie camera, and a focus range from 01.m to infinity. On the back camera you'll also find a dual flash and autofocus capabilities while the front camera just has a basic flash option, although like the back camera, it is an LED flash that's built in. Both cameras also capture full HD 1080p video. 

For its price point, the X5 offers an impressive list of camera features and is capable of producing some great shots which are further enhanced with the filters available in the Photo Editor editing app found on the X5. However, image quality isn't as good as some Samsung smartphones or indeed the new iPhone 6 produce but if all you want to do is share them with friends or upload them to social networks then they're fine. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 Screen

Even though the X5 does offer manual aperture settings, most of the time I just used the camera in its auto mode as generally, that's what most people would do. Although, it is nice to be able to have more manual control over aperture settings as well as options such as ISO, metering and white balance. As you'd expect, focus is set by pressing the screen on your chosen point. 

The Good: When in Auto, the best images captured had a good amount of detail, excellent colour reproduction and good levels of contrast. Although, it did struggle with metering (reading light levels) in situations where the dynamic range (the difference between dark and light areas) varied greatly. There is a built-in HDR mode that gets around this problem (shown below) but it can be a little slow to use and any movement can spoil the photo. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - HDR vs Auto Mode

The Bad: As for the bad images, these had purple fringing (a purple line) around branch edges and background's weren't always exposed well when focusing on foreground detail such as faces in selfies. The lens on the back camera also struggled to capture close-up images of Daffodils.


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Taking A Shot

The view from the camera on the X5's screen did look a little soft at times but this wasn't reflected in the images it produced, which is a positive. The camera app is also straightforward to use with a large shutter button position to the bottom or side (depending on the orientation of the phone) and a brightness control to the edge of the screen. One slight annoying niggle is that the shutter button is positioned over a large black box that just takes up unnecessary space and figuring out how to access the various camera functions available took some time as you have to drag a small black line up from the shutter button box to make them appear. 

When I eventually found the menu, it gave me access to flash options, a self-timer, grids to help align shots, the HDR function and a black & white mode alongside the manual options already listed above. The flash performed well, bouncing light onto the face when capturing portraits into the sun and the black & white mode, which actually turned the live view on screen black & white, also produced pleasing results. Although, these were further improved in the Photo Editor editing app where the images were be given more punch. 

BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Portrait B&W In-Camera
BQ Aquaris X5 - Portrait B&W In-Camera


Auto white balance performed extremely well but if you do find you need to cool or warm the tones in an image, other white balance settings are available. As with any type of camera, the lower your ISO setting, the less grain / noise you'll have in the image and the X5 is no different with ISO1600 producing the poorest results. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Panorama Mode 

Panoramas are something you expect to be able to capture pretty easily on most smartphones now and the X5 didn't let me down. Panning is smooth, the phone has no trouble keeping up and a box with arrows offers guidance from the start to the end of the panorama capture. The results are compiled pretty quickly by the X5, are stitched well and they're actually pretty good quality, although they're not on-par with the resolution of panoramas produced by other smartphones.  

BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Panorama

BQ Aquaris X5 - Panorama

BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Panorama With Vintage Filter Applied
BQ Aquaris X5 - Panorama With Vintage Filter Applied


BQ Aquaris X5 Slow Motion Mode

A fun feature on the X5 is the Slow Motion mode which does exactly what it says on the tin and the results are, actually, really cool. Slow Motion footage is straightforward to capture and it's a great way to have fun with friends when you're out capturing images with the X5. Footage is rather soft, though, and there's no sound but this doesn't stop the slow motion captures from bringing a smile to your face when you're viewing them or indeed capturing footage. Another cool thing is that you actually see the slow motion video captured in real time rather than the video speed been normal then slowed down when previewed. 




BQ Aquaris X5 Photo Editing

The Photo Editor is actually a really useful app that allows you to apply various filters, add frames, crop the image and adjust other options such as exposure, vibrancy, shadows and more. There's an 'undo' button to remove changes and edits aren't saved to the original shot so you don't have to worry about making and saving changes that'll permanently change your original shot. 

BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review : BQ Aquaris X5 - Sign Post With Filter Effect & Frame

BQ Aquaris X5 Photos

Portraits are pleasing and the X5 can also produce excellent landscape shots. Filters also make it easy and quick to change the look / feel of shots and further improve their appearance. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Sample Photos


BQ Aquaris X5 Outdoor images


BQ Aquaris X5 Video 

Video footage is a little soft, the lens isn't quick to focus when you zoom in / out when recording although and shake can be a problem. The sound from the X5 is good, although headphones are required to make full advantage of the 'Dolby Atmos 3D sound technology' sound on offer. Flash can also be triggered on and off when capturing video footage.  



BQ Aquaris X5 Value For Money

The BQ Aquaris X5 can be purchased sim free for £129.99 which when compared with the popular Apple iPhone 6s at around £539 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 at around £569.99, is a bit of a steal. Other smartphones available around a similar price point to the X5 include the Huawei P8 Lite, Microsoft Lumia 650 and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. There's also the Moto G (3rd Gen) available at a similar price - although the BQ has a more premium style and design, along with buttons under the screen giving you a more usable screen as a result. 


BQ Aquaris X5 Verdict 

BQ say they offer fair-priced smartphones and the price point of the X5 along with the five-year warranty make this a statement that's pretty much spot on. For a relatively new smartphone, the sim-free price is reasonable and what you get for your money isn't too shabby either.

The X5 looks great, has an excellent battery life and for the most part, performs well. Yes, if you're a photographer you may find the purple fringing and the phone's occasional inability to cope with wide dynamic ranges annoying but for most people, its selfie capturing capabilities along with its mostly good performance when capturing other types of shots will be enough.

Colours are good and the filters on offer in the Photo Editor help further enhance images, something which the Instagram generation will really love. Panorama mode is great and the slow motion function is fun to use and produces great results that you'll be happy to share on social media for all to see. 

Overall, the BQ Aquaris X5 produces pleasing images, is easy to use and is available at a great price. Definitely Recommended. 

BQ Aquaris X5 Pros

Pleasing image quality
Simple to use
Decent screen
Long battery life
Great Photo Editor 
Slow Motion Capture 
Front "Selfie" LED flash

BQ Aquaris X5 Cons

Can struggle with scenes with a high dynamic range 
Video and slow motion captures are soft 
Purple fringing is present on some shots 


BQ Aquaris X5 Smartphone Review :

The BQ Aquaris X5 has a decent camera, some fun features and is available at a bargain price.


BQ Aquaris X5 Specifications

Front Camera
PixelsNo Data
Max ApertureNo Data
Smartphone Cameras
Smartphone Cameras
    Additional CamerasNo Data
    Max Aperturef/2
    35mm equivalentNo Data
    Optical Zoom0x
    Image Sensor
    Pixels13Mp (Megapixels)
    Pixels (W)4160
    Pixels (H)3120
    Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
    Sensor Size1/3inch
    Sensor Size (width)No Data
    Sensor Size (height)No Data
    Aspect Ratio
    • 4:3
    LCD Monitor
    LCD Monitor5in
    Screen resolution720x1280
    Touch ScreenYes
    Focusing modes
    • Autofocus
    • Face Detection
    • Touch AF
    Exposure Control
    Shutter speeds shortestNo Data
    Shutter speeds longestNo Data
    ISO sensitivityNo Data
    Movie modeYes
    Video Resolution
    • 1920x1080 FullHD
    Video FPS30fps
    Stereo SoundNo Data
    Other Features
    Image StabilisationNo Data
    USBUSB 2
    Internal Memory2000MB
    Power Source
    Battery Type2900mAh LiPo fixed
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsAquaris X5 Android Version, Micro-USB to USB cable, Documentation, Charger not included

    View Full Product Details


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