We’ve been waiting for Apple to put all those rumours to rest (and there sure have been a lot of them) but supply-chain chatter and analyst speculation isn’t a match for Tim Cook on a stage in front of a very excited auditorium.
Following a numbers update on the App Store and Apple Music (which “keeps getting better”, according to Tim Cook), the Nintendo shock and the Watch announcement, we got to the device that we really wanted to see tonight. The Apple iPhone 7, as well as its larger brother, the iPhone 7 Plus.
Yeah, there’s a processor upgrade and it’s not just the A10 (considering that the A9 was the last one). This year we’re looking at a four-core chip called the A10 Fusion — because adding ‘Fusion’ to the name makes everything faster. Seriously though, Apple is trumpeting yet another performance upgrade, up to 40% quicker than the iPhone 6S’s A9 chip. There are two high-efficiency cores and two low-power cores, something that Apple says will lengthen battery life. Makes sense, if you’re just sending messages you don’t need the phone’s full power.
The GPU is getting a substantial bump, being 50% faster than last year’s graphics processing unit. Apple is claiming console-level graphics, something that we can believe after the brief gameplay demo on-stage. But how does that sap the battery? Well…
According to Phil Schiller, the 7 and 7 Plus have the “…longest battery life ever in an iPhone”. LTE browsing, which usually sucks juice like a thirsty kid who’s mom has a water-only rule, will have the iPhone 7 running for 12 hours. For the iPhone 7 Plus, that total is 13 hours. No battery sizes yet, though. We’ll likely have to wait for the teardowns for that info.
The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus will both sport Retina HD displays, which Apple says are 25% brighter than the previous versions. They’ll include wide colour gamut and 3D touch. The screen resolutions seem to be unchanged, so we’re expecting 720 x 1280 for the iPhone 7 and 1080 x 1920 for the iPhone 7 Plus.
Yeah, the 16GB version of the iPhone is gone. The standard is now 32GB, and all of the other storage allocations are changing too. No more 64GB storage option (we would have preferred that as the default, though), it’s jumping to 128GB and there’s a 256GB version on the way for both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The Jet Black version (see below) will only be available in 128GB and 256GB.
In fact, the only handset still supporting 16GB of storage is the iPhone SE. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will start at 32GB from this year as well, with the other option being 128GB. A mini-refresh for the old range, then?
Oh yeah. Kinda. Water and dust resistance is now a feature of the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, with an IP67 rating forming part of an iPhone for the very first time. It’s about freaking time — no more drowned iPhones, unless you drop it in the ocean. Note: don’t do that.
Black, silver, gold, rose gold. Those are the colours you get to choose from, and there’s an impressive method used to create the brand new anodised Jet Black handset. We know which one we’re going to be lusting after — this is a whole lot different from the Space Grey we’ve seen before.
There’s also a new Home button coming to the new handsets. Apple hasn’t taken it away, as was rumoured, but it have changed it, so that it will offer differing Taptic Engine (which you might have experienced on the Apple Watch) feedback, depending on what you’re doing. This could change the way that you use your iPhone, at least, that what Apple tells us. We’ll have to try it in action before we’ll make any such sweeping statements.
Also on the cards is a change in Apple’s speaker setup. For the first time? Dual speakers. Also happening on the audio front is Apple’s EarPods, which will now be connecting via the Lightning port. Long story short? The audio jack is gone, but Apple will be including an adaptor with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus if you still want to use your old headphones.
A wired Lightning connection isn’t where it stops. Apple announced new AirPods, intelligent wireless headphones that know when you’ve placed into your ears. Oh, and there’s no wire in between each earpiece. How futuristic. They exist thanks to Apple’s new W1 wireless chip and they respond to touch, letting you activate Siri with a double-tap. The AirPods charge in the case, thanks to a built-in battery, and should last five hours on a charge. Also: New Beats headphones are on the way. But you’ll forgive us if we skip over those — no one in their right mind (or who cares about quality sound) buys Beats headphones anyway.
Apple has added optical image stabilisation to the iPhone 7 camera, as well as a wider f/1.8 lens (compared to the old f/2.2 lens), a brand new six-element 12MP sensor which is 60% faster and 30% more energy efficient, according to Apple’s Phil Schiller. A new image signal processor is also turning up that is twice as fast as the iPhone 6S’s ISP.
The best camera ever seen in the iPhone? Perhaps, and Apple certainly thinks so. But then it’s outdone itself by putting a dual system into the iPhone 7 Plus, a standard 28mm lens as well as a 60mm telephoto (zoom) lens. Variable focal length and bokeh? Yes, please. Now we have something from Apple that we can stack up against Huawei’s P9 and the LG G5’s camera setups. Digital zoom? 10x. Optical zoom? That’s 2x.
The iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus will be available from 16 September (in the States, that is; we’re still going to have to wait), with American buyers being able to pre-order from 9 September. Is it too late to get a residency Visa? Apple is being very aggressive about launching in as many countries as possible as fast as possible. Samsung’s recent Note 7 misstep might have something to do with that.
Sadly, we’re not in the first two waves. We don’t have South African pricing or a timeline yet but we’ll let you know the moment that we do. Oh, and if you’re looking to get your hands on iOS 10, then 13 September is the date to watch.