Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone 7 was launched in September 2016 and was soon met with record-breaking sales, but does that mean the world’s most popular smartphone lives up to the hype? With some major and minor improvements and features, including water resistance and up to 256GB storage capacity, Apple’s flagship device has users wondering how it stacks up to not only other smartphones on the market but also its predecessor, the iPhone 6s. With the removal of the headphone jack and a higher price tag, the iPhone 7 seemingly has both Apple fans and tech experts alike divided.
iPhone 7 Specs
- 32GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities
- 138.3mm x 67.1mm
- 138 grams (4.87 ounces)
- 4.7 inch Retina HD display
- A10 fusion chip
- 12MP camera
- 4K video recording
- Up to 2 hours longer battery life than iPhone 6s
- iOs 10
Much like the iPhone 6 and 6s before it, the iPhone 7 features an aluminium body that provides a comfortable grip and weight. Unlike the iPhone 5c or even the 3G, Apple’s second generation of the iPhone, that feature plastic backings, the weight of the metal gives the phone a feeling of quality and luxury, though slightly lighter than the iPhone 6.
One of the first differences users will notice from previous versions of the iPhone, however, are the finishes. Apple has dropped Space Grey, which debuted on the iPhone 5, in favour of a black matte finish. They’ve also added Jet Black, which is a glossy black finish that has become extremely popular with users, causing this version of the iPhone to sell out almost immediately. Of course, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold are also still available on the iPhone 7 and all current models.
The absence of the antenna bands is also a welcome change to the iPhone 7 and gives the phone a cleaner and more minimalistic look, similar to iPhones released in years past.
Though the aesthetic remains roughly the same, there are some key differences in the hardware. Gone is the 3.5mm headphone jack featured on all other iPhone models before it. In its place, Apple has redesigned their headphones to include a lightning connector that plugs into the same single lightning port that the charger does.
Gone is the 3.5mm headphone jack featured on all other iPhone models before it. In its place, Apple has redesigned their headphones to include a lightning connector.
The home button also got a redesign in the iPhone 7. Instead of a traditional button that clicks when pressed down, the touch sensitivity gives the users of the new iPhone a completely different tactile sensation.
One of the biggest changes to the iPhone 7, though least noticeable up front, is the inclusion of water and dust-resistance. For Apple fans, this feature is a long time coming, as it’s been featured in a number of other high-profile phones in the recent past. Its addition means reduced likelihood of damage caused by dropping your phone in the water or from dust getting into the ports and the body.
The iPhone 7 receives a brand new beautiful display, and while it looks amazing, it’s no sharper than the one that appears on the iPhone 6s. The 4.7 inch, 326ppi, 1334 x 750 Retina display is crystal clear and the wide-color-gamut, the same that is featured in the iPad Pro and iMac, means it’s bright, rich and wonderfully colourful. Watching videos and movies is as good as its ever been on an iPhone, especially when combined with other new features, such as the dual speakers.
If audio is an important component to your mobile experience, the iPhone 7 delivers. Unlike models before it, the iPhone 7 now features two speakers on the bottom of the phone, one on either side of the lightning port. On previous versions, this was not possible due to the 3.5mm jack, though Apple has found a workaround. Not only are there two speakers on the phone, but they’re extra loud. In fact, the top volume on the iPhone 7 is double that of the iPhone 6. If you’re someone who regularly plays music from your iPhone, this means it’ll be loud and clear and can easily fill in if you don’t have access to a Bluetooth speaker.
This upgrade to the speakers doesn’t come without controversy, however. Apple’s decision to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7 has caused a stir in the Apple community and one that won’t be settled anytime soon. The 3.5mm jack has been an industry standard for decades and every other smartphone on the market features it, so it came as somewhat of a surprise to learn that Apple was dropping the jack in favour of its own lightning port connection. Though it’s a novel idea, in theory, this means that users cannot use their standard headphones in the new iPhone without the use of an adapter dongle. It also means that users cannot use their lightning headphones at the same time the phone is charging because there is only one port.
The decision to not include the 3.5mm jack is just another step Apple is taking to make the future wireless, but it comes at a cost. Alongside the launch of the iPhone 7 was Apple’s own AirPods—wireless headphones that connect via bluetooth—though they come with a hefty price tag. It’s also worth noting that Apple’s new MacBook Pros do not include this new headphone technology and instead rely on the same old 3.5mm jack. This means, in order to use your iPhone 7 headphones in the new MacBook Pro, you’ll need another adapter. For many, this is seen as one step forward and two steps back.
Like other iPhones before it, the iPhone 7 comes with an all-new A10 fusion chip that makes this iPhone the most powerful yet. Though it retains the same 2GB of RAM as its predecessor, switching between apps and opening new ones is as quick as smooth as ever. 3D gaming and multitasking also works like a charm and overtakes the iPhone 6s in both categories, with graphics that shine.
In fact, the new iPhone is 30% faster than the 6s and 12% more powerful than Samsung’s Galaxy S7. For users of much older generations of the iPhone, this is a huge boost in processing power. If you’re upgrading from the 6s, however, it may not be a largely noticeable difference, as both are extremely powerful.
The iPhone 7 also comes pre-installed with iOS 10, Apple’s latest iPhone operating system. While the look of the new OS remains mostly the same, there are a few tweaks here and there that will make the user experience all around more enjoyable.
iMessage now features larger emojis and sticker and even offers the ability to send doodles. The new touch home button also means that you can send a reading of your pulse that will appear as a graphic to other contacts. Apple Music also receives a much-needed refresh that streamlines the layout to make it more user-friendly.
Much of which makes iOS 10 great is its simplification. One of the biggest draws users will first experience on the new operating system is the ability to delete stock Apple apps, like Stocks, Podcasts, Find My Friends, etc. For many iPhone users, these apps were relegated to an extra folder and not touched, only taking up precious storage.
The new camera built into the iPhone 7 is also a big improvement over the iPhone 6s. This 12MP camera with OIS works a lot better in low light and delivers results in nearly every condition. It’s wider aperture allows for more light into the sensor, leading to clearer photos with a reduction in the depth of field. The front-facing, 7MP camera also received a boost so selfies and FaceTime video chatting are improved too. Though it’s an upgrade from previous iPhones, the new camera doesn’t perform leaps and bounds better than that of the Samsung Galaxy S7, but definitely, stands out in low or mixed light settings.
Like with most other aspects of the iPhone 7, the battery itself receives a nice boost when compared to the iPhone 6s. The 7 battery can now last up to two hours longer than its predecessor. That increases life when using the internet and wireless video playback, which jumps from 11 hours to 13 hours, while talk time and standby remain the same.
Real World Water Proof Test
So after a trip to Gran Canaria in Spain, I put the iPhone 7 through its paces. Both in terms of the claim from Apple that it is dust resistant and also water resistant. Although Apple do state that the iPhone can lose its water resistance over time, therefore the warranty does not cover water damage.
Kean to test how water proof was I jumped in the pool and took some under water footage.
Note Apple doesn’t support this under their Apple Care Scheme, so if your phone was to get damaged you are on your own. I tried it anyway and a few minutes after getting out of the water, the phone was asking me to insert a new SIM Card.
Panic struck in as I had just destroyed my new iPhone. I removed the SIM, dried it out with a hair dryer and put it back in again.
Thankfully the phone started to work again but it’s safe to say, I won’t be taking such massive risks in future.
The iPhone 7 is a dazzling piece of tech that not only performs well but looks like a work of art in and of itself. Though it includes a number of key upgrades and improvements, for users of the iPhone 6 or 6s, it may not be enough to justify a purchase, especially considering its price. For users of older models, however, the iPhone 7 will perform circles around older generations as nothing in anything before the iPhone 6 can match the A10 chip.
The decision to not include the 3.5mm headphone jack may be a turnoff for some, but as time goes on, it may prove to be less of an issue than expected. As iPhone 7’s continue to sell, it’s likely that the iPhone 6 and 6s will also drop in price to sell off existing stock. For those looking for a similar performance to the iPhone 7 but with a 3.5mm headphone jack, this may be their best option. If you’re can afford a new smartphone and own a pair of Bluetooth headphones, the iPhone 7 may just be the phone for you.
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