Review: The iPhone 7 And iPhone 7 Plus
Yes, the headphone jack is gone.
BY Stefan Vazharov | Sep 22, 2016 | Opinion
Apple's latest iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus look a tad familiar, yet they pack a host of novelties underneath their glass/metal bodies. Those include waterproof construction that's a first for an iPhone, stereo speakers, an all-new home button (which is not a button), and lack of standard audio jack. The last one is a rather controversial bit that, even though long-rumoured, is bound to shape the personal audio industry going forward due to the overwhelming popularity of the iPhone.
Both iPhones will capture much better photos than any of their predecessors, courtesy of improved cameras. The iPhone 7 Plus takes everything up a notch by packing a second camera with a telephoto lens that sets it apart from any of its competitors.
The storage options are another crucial and welcome change made by Apple in the ninth iPhone iteration. Gone are the 16GB and 64GB memory variants, with the 32GB and 128GB taking their place. A brand-new 256GB variant will top both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus range.
In The Metal
Design-wise, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus look almost identical to their predecessors. Only the redesigned camera area of both phones, the changed location of the antenna lines, and the lack of headphone jack suggest that these are the latest iPhones. The differences are even more difficult to spot when the phones have a protective case on.
Apple has replaced the Space Grey colour option of iPhones past with a cool and stealthy black colour. An all-new and incredibly glossy Jet Black colour was also introduced, though you probably want to stay away from it, as even Apple admits that it is prone to scratching easily.
Just as we expected, the build quality of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is excellent. The addition of IP67 rating for water and dust resistance is a welcome feature, which ensures that an accidental bout with liquid won't damage your phone. An IP67 rating means that iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus can spend up to 30 minutes fully submerged in one metre of water.
Both new iPhones have similar measures as the models they replace. This means that the iPhone 7 Plus model is as unwieldy as its predecessor, and downright gigantic even by today's big phone standards.
The screen size and resolution of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have remained unchanged (4.7 inches with 1,334 by 750 pixels and 5.5 inches with 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, respectively). However, Apple has used brighter display panels with a better colour range this time, meaning the screens of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 are more vibrant than those of last year's models.
Regarding the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus displays, it is worth noting that, despite its improvement, it is not on par with the OLED displays found in today's top-shelf Android phones. The same goes for their resolution.
The home button of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is another novelty to Apple's smartphone range. The tech giant has replaced the traditional clicky button with a solid one. The latter delivers haptic feedback when pressed.
Even though we knew about it for quite some time, the lack of a headphone jack in iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is a bit of a bummer. The included Lightning-to-3.5-millimetre dongle partially alleviates the initial pain, though you will still need to spend extra money if you want to charge the phone and listen to music via wired headphones at the same time.
Performance and Battery Life
Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feature a brand-new A10 Fusion chip with four CPU cores and all-new architecture. The new chipset is capable of delivering incredible, class-leading performance on all occasions. Both phones feel incredibly fast and responsive regardless of the task on hand—from web-browsing and video-streaming, all the way to playing graphic-intense video games.
The all-new iPhone 7 home button setup takes little to get used to. You can regulate the strength of its haptic response via a dedicated menu in the settings.
As far as battery life goes, both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus deliver better results than their predecessors. The iPhone 7 can easily make it through a day of normal use, while the iPhone 7 Plus can come close to two days of moderate use on a single charge.
Charging both phones on the other hand, is a different story. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus take longer to charge than any of their Android competitors. The iPhone 7 Plus, for example, takes about three hours to fill its battery. Wireless charging is not yet an option, either.
The brand-new stereo speakers deliver excellent sound quality for such setup. The sonic experience is crisp and loud, as well as considerably better than that of the iPhone 7 duo's rivals from Samsung, LG, and HTC.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus run the freshly launched iOS 10. The latest iteration of Apple's mobile OS looks familiar, yet it brings a host of new features and improvements to its users.
One of the coolest iOS 10 tricks is the ability to get rid of the stock Apple apps you don't use. Other key features include easy access to common tasks and widgets via swiping gestures, smarter Siri, vastly improved Photos, and a host of iMessage stickers and effects, among others.
Apple iOS 10 also boasts the best collection of apps and games in the business. The same goes for its security and update support.
Apple iPhone 7 packs a 12MP camera with improved sensor and much faster f/1.8 lens compared to last year's iPhone 6s. Optical image stabilisation came only with iPhone 6s Plus last year—this time it is standard on both models.
The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, features a dual camera that's definitely worth being excited about. In addition to the above-mentioned 12MP sensor with an f/1.8 lens, the big iPhone totes another 12MP snapper sitting behind an f/2.8 lens with twice the focal length of the regular camera. This groundbreaking optical zoom feature allows the iPhone 7 Plus photographers to get closer to objects without any loss in image quality.
The camera interface is a familiar sight. In case of the iPhone 7 Plus, accessing the second camera takes place via a small button on the right side of the UI.
In line with our high expectations, both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus capture photos and videos with exceptional quality.
The additional sensor with zoom lens on the iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, is a feature that puts it head and shoulders above its competitors.
The most notable camera improvement in this year's duo is the low-light performance. Images captured in darker environment now stand out with more detail and less noise than before.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the most capable smartphones created by Apple to date. They also pack a lot more novelties and overall improvements than their familiar design suggests.
Adding water resistance and stereo speakers to the iPhone family is a big deal! The crazy fast processor is also a welcome addition, if expected. The new home button and the Taptic Engine are another cool and handy addition, though some might take a bit of time to get used to it.
Like many times in the past, the camera of the latest iPhones deserves a whole lot of attention. The iPhone 7 Plus in particular, with the extra sensor it packs, is arguably the most versatile mobile photography tool out there.
An all-too-familiar design and desperately slow charging times are two things we didn't quite like about the iPhone 7 family. The lack of an audio jack is also worth mentioning here, though we don't think that it will be a deal-breaker for Apple loyalists.
So, should you upgrade to the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus? Well, it depends.
If you want to have the latest and greatest iPhone and have the budget to snag one, by all means go ahead. You will be getting the best phones created by Apple to date.
Users of iPhones older than the iPhone 6s generation should also strongly consider jumping on the latest models. The speed and camera updates, as well as the water resistance and all other new features are definitely worth upgrading for.
In case you recently picked up an iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you might be better to wait until next year's iPhone. Apple is expected to unveil a radically redesigned iPhone with a host of currently missing features (think: OLED display and wireless charging) for the product family's 10th anniversary in 2017.
As far as non-iPhone rivals are concerned, Samsung's Galaxy S7 family is worth a close look, thanks to better design, faster and wireless charging, and noticeably better displays. Of course, you must be willing to trade iOS for Android too.
Pricing of the iPhone 7 family has remained unchanged from past years, save for the USD20 bump on iPhone 7 Plus. The compact iPhone 7 starts at USD649 for a 32GB model, while the iPhone 7 Plus costs USD769 for a device with the same amount of memory. Storage upgrades bump the price tag by USD100, as always.