The all new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were released on September 16th, 2016. While the basic shape and design of the phone hasn’t changed dramatically, there are a ton of great new features and improvements. Below I’ll give my thoughts on the major changes this year.
Camera Systems: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus both received significant enhancements to their cameras this year. Both have been upgraded to a wider f/1.8 aperture, a six-element lens system, two focal lengths (iPhone 7 Plus only), Optical Image Stabilization, an improved sensor that is faster and more efficient than it’s predecessor, and a new quad-LED True Tone flash that’s 50% brighter than the flash of the iPhone 6S. On top of all these improvements to the rear camera, there’s even an upgraded 7MP front camera that incorporates deep trench isolation technology. It’s remarkable how much time/effort Apple spends each year on improving their camera systems, and this year’s camera improvements could arguably be the most important feature of this year’s release. Having used the camera’s for just one week, I can already tell you that the improvement is extremely noticeable. It handle’s low light incredibly well, and has a noticeable increase in it’s ability to capture scenes with high dynamic range. While it hasn’t been talked about much, the camera is also extremely fast to load as well – likely due to the improved camera sensor, and the new workhorse of a processor, the A10 (more on this below).
3.5mm Headphone Jack: I’m a big proponent of progress and change when it comes to electronics, so this was a welcome change for me. Yes I will have to deal with a few (temporarily annoying) issues, the same as everyone else. But I’m ok with that. I like what the future has in store for us, and I don’t want to stay in the stone ages just because I don’t want to change. And yes, Bluetooth is not the most reliable system in the world – however Apple understands this and as such, has augmented the Bluetooth experience by creating their own W1 processors which will power their upcoming AirPods. The biggest reason I’m happy with this change is that it will move the industry forward! The iPhone is a major driver in consumer technology, and when the iPhone makes a big move like this, it has a giant ripple effect. For instance, today I learned that some brand new, off the line 2016 Lexus vehicles are shipping with antiquated bluetooth modules – this is ridiculous! The car industry has been extremely slow to adopt new technologies, and I’m still appalled when I look at brand new cars that come with hideously designed, resistive-touch “infotainment” systems /end rant. To summarize, while many people will look at this like a step back or just another annoying thing to deal with, I look at it like a push forward – which I think many industries need.
A10 Fusion: As it was expected, Apple has improved upon the A9 chip from last year, and has come out with the A10 Fusion processor this year. It uses an all new quad-core architecture that allows for hyper fast processing via two high-performance cores when needed, or via two high-efficiency cores for less taxing jobs. This configuration allows Apple to provide the longest battery life in an iPhone yet. This year I upgraded from an iPhone 6S to an iPhone 7 Plus, so my battery life has increased dramatically! The other day, I used GPS navigation for 1 hour, spoke on the phone for 2 hours, used my device normally throughout the day, and still had about 20% charge left when plugging it in before bed.
Capacitive Home Button: I was excited when I heard about the changes to the home button. Mainly because I am so incredibly impressed with the Force Touch trackpad on my 2015 MacBook, that I knew Apple would do a great job of this. The first day of use was interesting – it certainly felt different than the old mechanical button, but there was no learning curve at all – it works exactly like the old button. This meant that the transition was a quick and easy one, and I found myself playing around with it just for fun. There are a couple of instances when it didn’t work like the old mechanical button – i.e. hitting it with your nail from odd angles, etc. but these situations are rare, and nothing to worry about.
Stereo Speakers: I’ll start by saying that these things are LOUD! This was such a good idea to use the top earpiece for the location of the second speaker, instead of making a new grill for it at the top of the phone. It’s just as effective, and leads to a simpler and more streamlined design of the phone. I don’t use the speakers at loud volumes very often with my phone, but for times when you need it – calls on speaker, podcasts in a car that doesn’t have Bluetooth, etc. it’s perfect.
Water Resistance: This is going to be a tough one to get used to for many. However, at this point it’s primarily designed as a contingency plan for all intents and purposes. Apple does not advocate that you take your phone in the shower or bathtub with you, or shoot videos underwater. However, as seen on various YouTube videos – the phone holds up extremely well under a few feet of water for 15-30 minutes. We’ve been told our whole life to keep electronics away from water, but this time we don’t have to be as anxious. I’ve yet to drop any of my phones in water in the past, but knowing that this one is highly water resistant, is very comforting.
New Design/Colours: Apple introduced two new colours this year – Black and Jet Black. The black iPhone is much darker than any version of Space Grey that Apple has released in the past, and look extremely nice in person – it is the colour that I chose to go with as it most suits my tastes. The Jet Black version is a new finishing process that Apple has created that makes Aluminum look like plastic – it is truly remarkable. It’s shiny, and the whole phone just looks like one continuous piece of material – blending the glass, with the body. The only downside is that it picks up fingerprints rather easily. It’s certainly something you have to see for yourself – if only to appreciate the quality of the craftsmanship.
Upgraded Haptic Engine: Now that the 3.5mm headphone jack is gone, Apple has now upgraded and increased the size of the haptic engine. This is particularly important for the iPhone 7 now that the home button is no longer a physical button, and instead relies on haptic feedback to simulate a click. I really like the improvements Apple has made here, and you really have to experience the upgrade to understand where this technology is going. For instance, when you rotate a selection wheel in any app, the haptic engine provides feedback at each new selection of the rotation while you spin the wheel. It’s something that’s easy to show people and get an immediate response of awe.
Let me know if you want me to touch on anything else, or if you have any specific questions related to the iPhone 7 Plus that I can answer for you. Thanks for reading.