iPhone 7 and 7 Plus review: Great annual upgrades with one major catch

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus review: Great annual upgrades with one major catch

In-depth with the new phones, the AirPods, A10 Fusion, the cameras, and more.

Written by / Courtesy of ArsTechnica

Up until now, every one of Apple’s iPhone hardware updates has been additive. New iPhones do all the stuff that the old ones could do, plus some new stuff. Moving to bigger screens and swapping the 30-pin connector for the Lightning connector have caused a little pain for developers and users (respectively), but even those more disruptive updates were fundamentally giving you more of something than last year’s offering.

It made iPhone upgrades generally pretty easy to recommend. If your phone was two or three years old and wearing out, there’s a new phone waiting for you that will be better than what you have. Even small-screened phone die-hards eventually got the iPhone SE.

Broadly speaking, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus still give you more: more speed, better camera, better screens, faster LTE, more battery life, more water-resistant. Year-over-year, it’s a respectable update. And compared to an aging iPhone 6 or 5S it’s a big jump forward. There’s just one thing missing. You know what we’re talking about, right?

Apple believes that wireless audio is the future, but instead of waiting for the future to get here, the company is forcing the issue. The iPhone 7 removes the standard 3.5mm audio jack in favor of audio over the Bluetooth protocol and its proprietary Lightning port. Older iPhones can do all three, but the iPhone 7 can’t.

What is it like to use the first smartphone of any real significance not to include a headphone jack? Where does it create problems? When is it beneficial? And are the other things that the iPhone 7 brings to the table enough to justify giving up such a venerable and widespread port?

Because we’re reviewing two phones in a single piece, let’s quickly run down the differences between the 7 and the 7 Plus. The two phones are broadly similar inside and out, but the Plus has a few extra features that the standard model does not.

  • Screen size and resolution: The iPhone 7 has a 4.7-inch 1334×750 screen, and the 7 Plus has a 5.5-inch 1920×1080 display. The 7 Plus is actually displaying a 2208×1242 image and scaling it to 1080p, but you can’t tell just by looking at it.
  • Internals: The iPhone 7 Plus has 3GB of RAM, while the iPhone 7 has 2GB.
  • Battery: Leaks peg the iPhone 7’s battery at 1960mAh and the iPhone 7 Plus’ battery at 2910mAh. We’ll need a teardown to confirm these, but they’re roughly in line with the size and battery life increases Apple is promising.
  • Camera: Both phones have a 12MP rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS), a feature that used to be confined to the Plus line. But the Plus adds a second 12MP camera with an f/2.8 aperture that can be used to simulate optical zoom.
  • Software: The iPhone 7 Plus’ larger screen lets it do a few things the iPhone 7 can’t.

Look and feel

Whether the iPhone 7 looks and feels “new” to you is going to be unusually dependent on the color you buy. The matte black finish and the glossy “jet black” finish will be popular because these colors telegraph to the world that You Have The New Thing (the gold and rose gold finishes did the same thing for the iPhone 5S and 6S, respectively). These colors also look the most different from the 6 and 6S.

The jet black finish in particular feels like a very different phone. Its back is still aluminum, but it has the same look and feel as the phone’s glass front—an effort to create the impression of an all-glass phone without actually being as fragile as an all-glass phone. The rounded edges of the phone and the rounded borders of the glass on the front create the appearance of a single continuous surface, which was always the intent with the 6 and 6S design even if the disparity in textures always ruined the illusion.

Like a glass phone, the jet black iPhone is more prone to slipping and sliding than the other finishes. A fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating helps keep it grippy and safe in your hands, but if you rest it on anything uneven—a desk or table, your chest or leg, a chair—the phone is prone to falling. The rounded, smooth iPhone 6 design is already harder to hold on to than the sharper edges of the 5-series and SE design, so a glossy finish doesn’t help.

Continue reading the entire article over at ArsTechnica.