The image gallery app has a simple three-tab interface. The first is Recent and it displays recently added and recently viewed images (each list gets half of the screen, but you can tap the down arrow to expand them).
The second tab is for photos shot with the BlackBerry Z30 and the third is for albums, which shows all folders with images on the device.
Multiple images can be selected at once for mass delete and mass share. There are also options to edit the image, start a slideshow or use DLNA to push images to a compatible TV.
Viewing individual images gives you the same options. You can move between images by swiping the current image past the edge left or right.
The Edit option in the gallery app is pretty powerful. The Transform tab in the editor can rotate and flip the image and there's a free transform tool as well if you want to crop out a specific part of the image. Then there's Enhance with the standard image tweaking options available (brightness, contrast, sharpness, noise reduction and so on), each with a slider for adjustments. There's a simple Auto-enhance option if you don't want to waste time.
The final two tabs are Artistic and Styles, which pretty much do the same thing - add Instagram-like effects to the image (everyone's favorite Lomo, Sepia and Aged photo effects). There's a cool animation that shows the effect sliding up on the image, giving you a one second look at how the current effect and the new one look side by side.
The BlackBerry Z30 came with a surprisingly capable video player. Its interface is very similar to that of the image gallery. It has three tabs - Recent, Camera and Library (which shows all video files in the phone storage) - and can display items either as a list or a grid.
You can search for a video, mass delete videos, share them or push them through DLNA to a compatible player. There's also the HDMI port with which you can output the video to any HDTV, as long as you have an HDMI cable with a microHDMI jack on one side (those are more popular and cheaper than MHL adapters).
The Z30 video player handled all the popular file formats (AVI, MP4, MKV) and 1080p videos easily. Codec support is pretty great too - DivX, XviD and h.264 are ready to go as is Dolby Digital audio. The one thing the player choked on was DTS audio (video still worked).
Some competing smartphone don't support anything over MP4 videos with MP3/AAC audio, so this is good showing by the business phone. There's also support for close captions, which was a neat surprise.
Another thing that impressed us was the Edit option - it took a 1080p video and offered to trim its start and end points, rotate and crop the video, adjust its brightness, contrast color and sound too.
This isn't the only video editor on board the BlackBerry Z30 either. The Story Maker app lets you pick multiple movies and photos and puts together a video slideshow with a soundtrack of your choice. There are several different preset styles, which add an effect over the whole video (vintage, bleach pass, etc.).
You can go back and add/remove items, rearrange them and put them through the image or video editor if they need to be tweaked.
By default, Story Maker saves the final videos in 720p resolution but you can switch to 1080p if you like.
The UI of the BlackBerry Z30 music player is pretty similar to the image gallery and video player. It has three tabs, the first of which displays recently added and recently played music. The second organizes the music library by Artist, Album or Genre and the third one displays all the playlists.
The Now playing interface is pretty simple with a big album art in the middle, surrounded by playback controls (including shuffle and repeat buttons). If you tap on the album art (or drag it down) you get the current playlist so you can easily jump between songs (swiping left and right between songs doesn't work).
There are no playback controls on the lockscreen or the shade on top of the screen a la Android, you can use the volume keys instead. The volume up and down buttons change the volume for short presses or act as previous/next buttons if you long press them. The middle button is play/pause.
By the way, when changing the volume while there's a track playing, the little window with the volume level indicator does have playback controls and track info and album art. It's an odd place to put them and you have to hit a volume key each time you want to use them - we much prefer using the hardware keys for the job.
The music player is DLNA-enabled, just like the gallery and video players. There's no equalizer though, it is the one major feature we missed.
The BlackBerry did impressively well in the first part of our audio quality test. The smartphone posted excellent scores all over the field and garnished them with nicely high volume levels.
Unfortunately, the smartphone had real trouble handling headphones and connecting them sent its distortion levels sky high. The other readings were also affected, but the differences were hard to detect with a naked ear. A pretty abysmal performance here and more than enough to bring the overall score down to unsatisfactory.
And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|BlackBerry Z30 (headphones attached)||+0.16, -0.24||-92.9||91.8||0.014||0.018||-90.2|
|BlackBerry Z30 (headphones attached)||+0.41, -0.26||-87.0||87.2||2.612||2.122||-90.2|
|LG G2||+0.03, -0.28||-91.9||91.9||0.0097||0.011||-91.3|
|LG G2 (headphones attached)||+0.07, -0.03||-91.5||91.8||0.037||0.041||-54.3|
|HTC Butterfly S||+0.02 -0.32||-93.7||93.6||0.0008||0.014||-93.6|
|HTC Butterfly S(headphones attached)||+0.16, -0.19||-93.7||93.6||0.019||0.037||-83.3|
|Samsung Galaxy S4||+0.03, -0.08||-95.9||93.2||0.0030||0.0092||-96.4|
|Samsung Galaxy S4 (headphones attached)||+0.03, -0.08||-96.0||93.3||0.0031||0.089||-95.5|