BQ was a completely unknown brand to us until a few weeks ago, but in the UK they are backed by O2 and the BQ Aquaris X5 is an exclusive for them. It is currently available for £19.99 upfront with a £14.50 a month contract though you get a dreadful 100MB of data. A more functional contract is the £9.99 upfront and then £19.50 per month where you get unlimited texts, 500 minutes, and 500MB of data. This should be OK for very casual users, as long as you connect to WiFi at home!

Alternatively, you can buy it for £169.99 upfront, that puts it fractionally more expensive than the Moto G 4G (3rd gen) and slightly less expensive than the other new brands the Wileyfox Storm.

In terms of specification you get a 5-inch 720p display, metal build, 2,900mAh battery, Snapdragon 412 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSD and they have opted to use Cyanogen OS 12.1 rather than stock Android.

Design

The first thing you will notice about the Aquaris is the excellent design and build. Unlike most other cheap phones which are very plasticy, you get a metal build with a soft matt plastic back. This gives it a considerably more premium look and feel than its price tag suggests.  The size is good too, 5-inches is a comfortable size for someone with relatively small hands like myself, it probably appeals to the average casual user more than a 5.5-inch screen too.

The Micro-SD and Sim are kept in pop out trays, similar to the style you see on the iPhone. I have to admit I did not realise this at first and spent a good five minutes working out why my sim card would not fit at all in the tray, only to realise it was for the SD card.

Screen

This is probably the biggest downside of the phone, maybe it is because I have gotten too used to premium phones which high resolution screens such as the Nexus 6p. The 720p screen looks a bit washed out and grainy. The Moto G has the same resolution so it is not completely under specced, but the Storm does use a 1080p screen.

It is not dreadful though, it is perfectly usable for daily use and most normal users probably won’t even notice the issues with it.

Camera and Battery

The camera is 13-megapixels is a reasonable spec for a phone in the price range, it matches the Moto G. I found there was some slow focussing issues but overall it is perfectly acceptable for a phone like this.

The battery on the other hand is a bit more of a stand out feature, it is 2,900mAh battery, which is a decent size for any phone at the moment. Combined with the relatively low resolution screen and mid-range SOC you can easily get a day’s use out of it. This phone should easily outlast the others I have mentioned in this review.

Performance

The phone uses a Snapdragon 412 processor with 2GB of RAM which is marginally better than the Moto G Snapdragon 410. You may find some slowdowns if you try and play the latest games on this, but it should be more than fine for casual gaming, and it is certainly fine for regular apps. I use Endomondo, Gmail, Maps, Instagram etc regularly and I never had any problems at all.

Cyanogen seems like a good choice; it isn’t bogged down with skins like you find on Samsung etc. I found this helped the performance a lot.

Overall

This is a solid budget phone. Its looks and battery life are the stand out features and the overall performance should be more than adequate for anyone with the budget for this phone. I think it would benefit a slight price drop, at £169.99 there is a temptation to save some money and opt for the Moto G, or spend a little extra and go for the Storm. If it was £20 less the choice would be simple, or if O2 was a little more generous with their contracts.

Overall though, this is a good phone and you won’t be disappointed if you decide to buy it.

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