What The Reviews Are Saying About The iPhone 7 And 7 Plus
Apple announced the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus last week, and much of the discussion revolved around the removal of the headphone jack. It’s the most apparent change in what seemed to be an otherwise minor upgrade to the 6S and 6S Plus. Now that we’ve all processed the headphone jack disappointment, here’s what the full reviews have to say about the new iPhones.
Pretty much everything is improved (save for the iPhone’s ability to connect to wired headphones), but with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple is still losing ground in the smartphone arms race.
RIP, Jack And Button
To start with the bad: The lack of a headphone jack is pain if you have a nice headphone collection, but it’s not a problem if you’re happy to use the adapter dongle or if you currently use Apple’s EarPods (the new pair connects through the Lightning port) or wireless headphones. What is a problem is that your new Apple EarPods won’t work with anything else (except for iPads), including Apple’s laptops.
Also gone? The clickable home button that’s graced every previous iPhone. You may hate what’s replaced it:
The iPhone 7’s new home button will elicit instant reaction from people; it’s much more different than you might think. The button no longer moves at all — it’s totally solid, just like newer MacBook trackpads. A linear vibration unit that Apple calls the Taptic Engine jolts when you apply pressure to the button, tricking your brain into feeling a click…. There’s something about a really great button, and the iPhone home button was an all-time great button. Apple says it switched up the home button to make it more customizable and more durable — there’s a lot of people with the software button floating around their iPhone screens — but it’ll take some adjustment to really get used to. You’ll have to try it to decide for yourself.
Apple’s chips continue to improve by leaps and bounds every year, and this year’s A10 Fusion is no exception:
The most compelling improvement on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is the sharp speed increase. Spurred by faster chips, everything — switching between apps, opening the camera — feels snappier. The iPhone 7 battery also gets about two hours more juice than the 6S. Using the app Geekbench 4, I tested the speeds of the iPhone 7, 6S and 6. The iPhone 7 was 39 percent faster than the 6S and 114 percent faster than the 6. So people who bought the 6S last year can probably skip upgrading to the 7, but those holding onto a 6 and anything older will benefit from a tremendous performance gain.
The new chip structure also helps stretch battery life:
Historically, all of Apple’s quad-core chips on the Mac side have all four processors able to hit the same peak speed. The A10 Fusion architecture differs, having two high power cores, and two high efficiency cores… To keep the iPhone 7 running at peak efficiency, the two disparate pairs of cores are driven by a new traffic-regulating chip, delivering tasks with low computing power demands to the high efficiency cores, and heavy duty tasks to the high power cores. Practically, this means that tasks like e-mail checking and music playing will be handled by the high efficiency cores, preserving battery life when in use much better than if the tasks were dealt with by the high power chips.
These days, my usual routine involves lots of Slack messages, emails, Spotify playlists and marathon Hearthstone sessions. When put through that very specific kind of wringer, the iPhone 7 usually stuck around for a full workday and often survived until mid-morning the following day. The 7 Plus, meanwhile, frequently lasted through nearly two days of mixed use and downtime, a notable improvement over the 6s Plus. Obviously, your mileage will vary, but here’s hoping that these upgraded batteries stay this good over time. (We’ll see about that.)
The 6S Camera Was Good. This Is Noticeably Better.
While the iPhone 7 camera continues the line of great iPhone cameras, the 7 Plus’ 2-lens setup is a big deal.
The iPhone 7 camera is the easy one to review. It’s terrific… Apple made hay about the 100 billion calculations the camera does every time you shoot a photo, and how fast the new processor is, but I didn’t notice a big difference in the actual shooting experience over last year’s model. The photos and video are the important part, though, and they’re much better now… TheiPhone 7 Plus can’t match a truly professional-level camera, but I’ve gotten more detail and richness from my photos than I can ever remember getting off a smartphone.
The real benefit of the [7 Plus’] secondary telephoto lens is zooming. For the first time, the iPhone has optical zoom, which means you can zoom without the reduction in quality that occurs with a digital zoom.
The 7 and 7 Plus are “water resistant” (not “water proof”), and it seems more than enough to handle any accidental liquid incidents (just don’t take it scuba diving yet):
I checked email while taking a hot shower. I toted around the devices like goldfish in a plastic bag for a half an hour. I dunked them in the ocean for good measure. The phones survived each situation unscathed.
But Apple Is Still Losing Its Edge In The Smartphone Race
I still won’t call it the most advanced phone money can buy. These benefits would make the iPhone 7 the best smartphone… of 2015. Last year is when Apple should have put it on sale. Now Apple’s just playing catch-up to Samsung , which added an equivalent camera and waterproofing to its Galaxy S7 six months ago. It’s dumb luck for Apple that the iPhone 7 is arriving Friday just as Samsung faces a bruising recall on the Galaxy Note 7, which would otherwise be the Simone Biles of 2016 smartphones.
Anyone using an iPhone 6 or older should at least consider upgrading—maybe you’re still on a 2-year carrier contract, or maybe your current phone is just showing signs of wear-and-tear and your battery isn’t holding the charge it once did. For your money, you’ll get water resistance, a much faster phone with two or three times the RAM and better battery life, a significantly improved camera, and a few other perks. iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users who are still happy with the speed and physical condition of their phones could comfortably get at least another year out of them, though.