13 April 2014

bq Aquaris 5 HD

I recently acquired a bq Aquaris 5 HD smartphone. Not seeing many reviews of this relatively new device from a relatively unknown manufacturer, I thought a quick review could be helpful to others.


Requirements

Having become infuriated with my work-supplied phone, the atrocious HTC Desire X, I decided to replace it out of own pocket. Yes, it's rooted and yes, the bloatware I can identity has been removed, but it's still a hopelessly under-powered, small-screened toy.

At the same time, a dual-SIM device to also carry my private connection seemed like a good thing to try.

The challenge then became replacing a perfectly good Nexus 4, with a high quality, dual-SIM, stock Android device with ease of root-n'-ROMing.

Without detailing the options, the HTC One Dual was ruled out on its software, the Moto G Dual on its lack of easy availability, the Oppo R819 on its non-SSL online store (honestly, all my private data in cleartext!?) and various others on a combination of poor hardware (especially lower resolution screens) and lack of clarity around exactly how spoiled they are with bloatware.


Aquaris 5 HD

http://www.bqreaders.com/gb/products/aquaris-5-hd.html
The Moto G looked to be the best option, albeit requiring an odd import, until I struck the bq Aquaris 5 HD. Like the Oppo R819, in comparison to the Moto G, the Aquaris sacrifices CPU for camera spec, but it appeared to be good enough for what I really use my phone for--email, web, IM and PagerDuty.

There's no pretense that the Aquaris 5 HD is in the same specification range as the Nexus 4, but it is in the higher end of the mostly poor quality dual-SIM market.


Ordering

I'm sorry to say I don't speak Spanish or Portuguese, but Google Translate was my friend as I worked through the online shop (https://store.bqreaders.com/es/aquaris-5-hd).

The only specific issue I found was the order form enforcing a Spanish-style nine digit phone number. I had to fake something to fit the form and add a note with my real number and an explanation.

Everything seemed to run smoothly, and my new handset arrived in a few days.


Software

A big attraction to me was the apparent stock Android 4.2 I saw in the Aquaris manual I downloaded as part of my research. I detest the junk Product Managers from most handset makers seem to feel they need to force on us in their ROMs, but bq has to be congratulated for giving me what I ordered--a dual-SIM smartphone with an Android OS. There is none of the usual poor attempt to 'add value' with presumptuously pre-installed bloatware.

The price I pay for this over the Nexus 4 is the age of the chosen OS and the probability it won't be updated to anything more current in the lifetime of the device.


Hardware

I've used the Aquaris 5 HD for seven weeks now. I can't say I've noticed any specific loss of ability from my Nexus 4 for what I use the device to do. I'm sure a gamer could miss the processing power and RAM, but I haven't.


Conclusion

The Aquaris 5 HD meets my requirements as a modern, dual-SIM Android smartphone. bq provided a good sales service and the device provides stock Android on hardware that performs to a level that fits my use, making a fair replacement for my Nexus 4.

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