Apple announced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus yesterday, and it marks a full numbered release with a fair bit of changes. While it looks similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from 2014, the iPhone 7 does take a couple of steps forward, and according to some, perhaps even backward with a rather controversial change. With Android 7.0 Nougat just out, and Google’s Pixel series of smartphones and the Samsung Galaxy S8 just around the corner, the iPhone 7 does face some stiff competition, so how does it hold up? More importantly, for those of you who already own an iPhone 6/6S (or variants thereof), is it worth the upgrade? Here’s all you need to know!
iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 6 – What’s New?
Since the iPhone 7 is a numbered release, it’s more about feature introductions than improvements, and there’s enough new stuff to talk about. To begin with, both the new iPhones get a brand new processor named the A10 Fusion. Apple has constantly upped the game in terms of performance and despite its numbers disadvantage, finds itself leading the pack in benchmarks. This year, Apple has finally embraced a quad core processor, which has two high performance cores paired with two low power cores. It’s a similar model to what’s used on most mobile phone processors today. In true Apple fashion, no specific numbers were released, but it’s been claimed that the A10 delivers 40% faster CPU performance and 50% faster GPU performance. While the iPhone 7 has 2 GB of RAM, the iPhone 7 Plus comes with 3 GB.
The screens on both the new iPhones are pretty much the same resolution as the previous year’s, but are touted as being 25% brighter. Unlike the competition, Apple is still sticking to LCD, instead of going the AMOLED way.
On the design front, there isn’t much to talk about apart from minor changes, but the biggest new change externally would be the addition of IP67 dust and water resistance. What that means, basically, is that your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus can survive being fully immersed in upto 1 meter of water for about 30 minutes. It’s a boon for users in adverse conditions, and this change is possible mostly because of another fairly significant change, which is the removal of the home button. It’s been replaced with a force sensitive surface similar to the Force Touch trackpads in MacBooks, and also borrows the Taptic Engine haptic feedback system from the Apple Watch. There’s different levels and types of vibration feedback now possible, which can also be used by notifications.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be available in 5 colors, namely Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, Black and Jet Black. Jet Black will only come in 128 GB and 256 GB variants though, and is the most premium looking of the bunch, boasting of a glossy finish unlike the matte ‘regular’ black. Speaking of storage, Apple has also finally raised the minimum storage option available, and even the least expensive iPhone 7 will come with 32 GB of storage. In fact, storage is being increased all across the board, with each model getting double the number for the same price. So the range is now 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB, instead of the older 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB.
iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 6 – The Big Changes
The two biggest changes in the new iPhone will probably draw sharply contrasting reactions. As rumored for the past couple of months, Apple has gone ahead and removed the beloved 3.5mm audio jack on the iPhone. This means that there’s only the proprietary Lightning connector on the phone, which will function as both the charging and extension port. Apple is however bundling a pair of new EarPods with the phones, which use the Lightning connector instead of the good ol’ 3.5mm audio jack. They also announced new earphones called AirPods, which are completely wireless, have mics built in, and a couple of sensors to detect when they’re in your ears. The AirPods are admittedly expensive at $159, so in case you’re not interested in using them or the bundled Lightning EarPods, Apple also announced a simple Lightning connector with a 3.5mm audio jack. Despite rumors, it’s quite inexpensive at $9, but still is an extra set of hardware you need to buy and use to not render your earphones and headphones obsolete. The removal of the audio jack also means that you won’t be able to listen to music or use the EarPods while charging, unless you pick up the much more expensive AirPods.
The other big change is on the camera front, and applies more to the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s also pretty much the biggest factor to consider if you’re not sure about shelling out the extra moolah for a Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus comes with a dual camera system, with one normal lens and one telephoto lens. Both cameras are 12 megapixels, but the 7 Plus will allow users to capture better zoom and depth of field. The iPhone 7 doesn’t get a dual camera system, but still gets the same improved camera. The aperture is now f/1.8, so that means low light photography will be better, and the LED flash (quad, this time) has been reworked as well. Additionally, both phones get optical image stabilization built in as well as a 7 MP front facing camera.
Another change that’s bound to make some people happy is the addition of dual speakers. Interestingly, the secondary speaker isn’t located at the top of the phone, but in the speaker earpiece, which doubles up and has been upgraded internally.
iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 6 – The Final Word, Pricing and Release
So should you upgrade? The answer is yes and no. If you have an iPhone 6 or older, the iPhone 7 is a pretty big upgrade, but it probably doesn’t bring much to the table if you’re already rocking an iPhone 6S Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus obviously offers the most reason to upgrade with the dual camera, but the lack of an audio jack in both phones might pose a problem. As for someone looking to get into the Apple ecosystem, this is a good time as any to do so, as long as you can stomach the price. You might also want to consider holding out for another year, because the 10th anniversary of the iPhone might be the year where Apple makes some radical changes. But then again, smartphones have sort of reached a plateau and unless there’s some really big changes, everything is going to seem like an incremental improvement.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will hit stores in major markets on September 16, with preorders opening September 9. Here’s the pricing:
iPhone 7 (32 GB): $649
iPhone 7 (128 GB): $749
iPhone 7 (256 GB): $849
iPhone 7 Plus (32 GB): $769
iPhone 7 Plus (128 GB): $869
iPhone 7 Plus (256 GB): $969