The iPhone 7 (Plus) Review

Even though many iOS users are already discouraged by missing visual updates, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are still among the most capable smartphones. Apple has taught us to expect a major redesign and highly marketable features every two years, which is why many of us expected from the Cupertino-based company to offer something radically different than the last year’s models.
In all fairness, the iPhone 6S brought a 3D Touchscreen as well as some performance improvements, and that’s all. With this slightly upgraded version of the iPhone 6, many were happy to join the bandwagon and continue using the latest iPhone during the next two years.

On the other hand, this is a very smart move when it comes to Apple’s strategy. Even though this is the first time that the company failed to implement a redesign after two years in the cycle, this could easily be a foundation for something much bigger. Remember that in 2018 the company will be celebrating the first 10 years of iPhone’s existence, which is why we are already hearing numerous rumors about highly innovative features that should push this smartphone into its second decade.

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Even though the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are almost identical to the last year’s models, they are still full of aggressive breaks from convention. A lot can be said about the new A10 Fusion processor, as well as about the dual-cameras on the larger iPhone, which could be all hints at the next year’s phone.

 

Design

Even though the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus look more or less exactly like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from 2014, this is not a bad thing. Apple is one of the companies who is known for pushing the boundaries of industrial design, and I think that majority of us can agree that the iPhone 6 is a beautiful device. The iPhone 7 is even more streamlined as its antenna bands are more discreet now. 

There are actually three things that are making the iPhone 7 unique. First, the antenna lines and their new arrangement. What is interesting to note is that the antennas are blended into the body of the matte black and glossy jet black models. Apple says there are limits on what colors can apply, which is why the antennas are still visible on the silver, gold, and rose gold models. Second, the camera bump is still somewhat noticeable but is now more tastefully curved into the rear casing. And finally, there’s no headphone port which makes it clear that you’re holding the iPhone 7 in your hand.

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Even though not much has changed on the outside, Apple says that there are numerous changes on the inside. The newest generation iPhone is now water resistant because of that, but not fully waterproof. In case your phone accidentally falls into a pool, it should work properly only if you rescue it immediately. If you want to go diving with it, you should definitely get a waterproof case.

 

The New Home Button

By taking a cue from the newest MacBook trackpads, Apple has decided to redesign the Home button. This is no longer a button, but instead a solid surface that uses the Taptic Engine to provide different kinds of feedbacks. 

Apple’s Taptic Engine is able of creating a linear vibration when you apply pressure to the button, tricking your brain into feeling a click. You can set the haptic feedback to one of three force settings to make it feel like a harder or stronger click.

What is also interesting to note is that the Taptic Engine can provide different kinds of vibrations that work well in iOS 10. For example, the phone does a little bump every time you drop the notification pane down. This is yet another proof why iPhone is superior to Android, as well as why it’s important that a smartphone comes with unified hardware and software. Third party apps can also use this Engine, which we can expect to see being implemented very soon.

 

3D Touch and The New Display

As you can expect, 3D Touch is still present on the iPhone 7’s display, and it works just like before. However, the new display is yet another clear improvement that you should notice the first time you pick up this model.

Even though you won’t notice this in most applications, the display can now show a wider range of colors. This can be seen by looking at photos taken by the iPhone’s camera. Other than that, most apps will need to update their code and functionally to support this feature. For example, Instagram has already announced an update to support wide color range. However, this could have been expected since this is a photography app. You shouldn’t expect from Word of Pages to adapt to this.

 

Headphone Jack

As I am sure you’re heard by now, the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are both missing the headphone jack. As Apple said, it needed to take out this piece of old technology to make room for better cameras, the Taptic Engine, and a bigger battery. This also goes hand-in-hand with the iPhone’s newly acquired water resistance.

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Even though you will receive the new Lightning EarPods when you buy the new iPhone, you will also receive a Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle. This means that you can still use your traditional headphones. This dongle is priced at $9, so you should stock up if you plug your phone into a car or have a variety of headphones that you normally use.

The new Lightning EarPods are exactly the same as regular EarPods, which means that they sound average. Many reviewers agree that it’s strange that LG and HTC ship much higher quality headphones with their flagship models. After all, Apple owns Beats, which is why it’s hard to understand this move. This seems especially important right now when the company is trying to promote the Lightning port and its technology.

On the other hand, Apple is trying hard to push wireless audio as the next big thing. The company has come up with its first wireless earbuds, called AirPods. They are Bluetooth headphones that pair easily with Apple’s products thanks to a proprietary controller chip called the W1. Once you pair the AirPods with one Apple device, they can switch to all the others. Still, they are priced at $159, you can easily lose them if you don’t pay attention, and they don’t actually bring an amazing sound quality.

The problem with the W1 chip is that only AirPods can use this kind of intuitive and easy Bluetooth connection. All you need to do is to get your AirPods near your iPhone, and they are make a connection. However, this doesn’t mean that any other Bluetooth headphones will work this way. Apple has once again locked its ecosystem and left out hundreds of products. To make wireless audio a thing, the company should instead focus on opening its technology and allowing any third-party to come up with a compatible product.

 

Cameras

The iPhone 4 was the smartphone that initiated the explosion in mobile photography, with every subsequent model bringing better cameras. As Phil Shiller recently noted during the September media event, the iPhone camera is the best camera most people will ever own.

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The iPhone 7 is bringing another major step in the right direction, as it is a clear improvement over the iPhone 6S. There is a new faster and larger lens, the addition of optical image stabilization, a new four-color True Tone flash, as well as wider color capture (that goes well with the phone’s new display). These are all subtle, but very noticeable improvements over the iPhone 6S, which had the best smartphone camera at the time. Some of recent tests and benchmarks showed that that last year’s model is bested by recently released Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. With the iPhone 7 in the picture, this will clearly change.

This year we not only have two iPhone models, but also two very distinctive camera system. The iPhone 7 Plus comes with two lenses that operate simultaneously. As Phil Shiller showed on stage, you can switch to a true 2x zoom by tapping on a button, but also digitally zoom the 1x lens to 2x. After that, the telephoto lens takes over and digitally zooms up to 10x.

In all fairness, even though the iPhone 7 Plus brings perhaps the most powerful camera yet, many of us expected more. After all, this is not the first time we saw a dual-camera system. The Huawei Honor 8 lets you do all kinds of wild focus and depth of field adjustments, while other smartphones with a similar camera system allow for a photo to be refocused at any moment. The iPhone 7 isn’t able of doing any of this, even though an upcoming software update will enable a portrait mode that blurs the background.

In case you really care about selfies, you will be happy to know that front-facing cameras have been improved as well. A new 7-megapixel sensor allows for amazing-looking photos, that are bright and sharp.

 

Performance

The iPhone 7 has received a major upgrade when it comes to its performance. As the phone starts shipping to customers worldwide, we can see benchmarks that show just how capable the 7 is. Some of those tests even showed that Apple’s smartphone has surpassed the entry-model MacBook Air, which is astonishing.

The 7 brings the new A10 Fusion chip, which features a new design with four cores: two high-performance cores, and two low-power cores that use less battery power during everyday tasks. Even though it’s clear that this chip is made for performance, you will likely miss on noticing any improvement when it comes to everyday tasks and using apps like Twitter, Facebook, Slack, and Safari. Still, you should benefit from an improved battery life.

The other thing is that once app developers start experimenting with the A10 Fusion, we will likely see numerous apps that are more powerful than before and games that bring better graphics.
Apple claims that by removing the headphone port, a larger battery could fill that space. In combination with a power-efficient A10 Fusion. The iPhone 7 can run for up to two hours more than the iPhone 6S, while the larger model can run up to one hour more than the 6S Plus. As always, this depends on how you use your phone, so many of you will also fail to notice this.

 

Conclusion

The iPhone 7 is perhaps one of the riskiest moves Apple had made in a long time. Even though we were hearing rumors that the headphone port is destined to be eliminated, this was still a big surprise once it finally happened. Now it’s time to see if the iPhone 7 can make up for the inconvenience of the missing headphone port.

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It could be said that the iPhone 7 is ahead of its time. Apple is betting on numerous technologies that will take the time to become truly useful. For example, the iPhone 7 Plus is shipping with a new dual camera system, but will only later become more powerful thanks to the new portrait mode. Developers will also need their time to adapt to the Taptic Engine or the new wide color gamut display. There is also a huge problem with the ecosystem of headphones, earbuds, and adapters that now need to switch to the Lightning plug or supply adapters. On top of that, we are hearing rumors of an overhauled iPhone that is being prepared for the next year, which will probably create an even wider gap that developers and third-party companies will need to fill.

On one hand, you can’t go wrong if you decide to buy the iPhone 7. This is an incredibly powerful phone with amazing specs and even better camera abilities. However, if you don’t feel obligated to have the latest iPhone, you won’t be missing out on much. Still, the 7 looks like a foundation for something much bigger, and I am already believing those rumors on the upcoming iPhone 8 in 2017.

 

The entry model iPhone 7 is priced at $649 and now comes with 32GB of internal storage, and ranges up to $849 for the 256GB model. The Plus starts at $769 for 32GB and goes up to $969 for 256GB. Finally, make sure you factor in the extra cost of headphone adapters or Bluetooth headphones because you will likely need them.