Apple’s iPhone 7 is now officially available – although you might actually have trouble finding one, given the usual pre-order barrage and release morning queues. And then there’s the fact that it’s not available in South Africa (officially) yet.
At a glance, Apple’s latest and greatest doesn’t seem to bring any major improvements over the last couple, but while the core design remains intact, there are plenty of upgrades all around the handset… and maybe even some reasons to upgrade if you have last year’s phone.
We’ve still got a full review on the way but that hasn’t stopped us from checking out the iPhone 7 early. If you’re feeling the urge to splurge and need a boost of confidence – or a serious reality check – here’s are six reasons why we love the iPhone 7… and two reasons why we don’t.
WE LOVE #1: IT’S WATERPROOF
It’s IP67 certified, which means a splash of water is no hazard and even a dunk in a pool for 30 minutes or less shouldn’t ruin your beautiful, incredibly expensive handset. We’re not saying you should try it out, but when the next water-related mishap occurs, you ought to be fine.
WE LOVE #2: SWEET SNAPS
True, the standard iPhone 7 doesn’t have the amazing dual-camera setup of the larger Plus model, which adds a telephoto lens and has some intriguing tricks coming via update – but the single camera still sees a big upgrade here.
The back camera has a wide f/1.8 aperture and adds optical image stabilisation, plus the brighter LED flash makes a big difference in low light. We noticed that the camera focused faster, and the results look even more vibrant than ever. It gives the Galaxy S7 a run for its money.
WE LOVE #3: BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK
Yeah: two of them, actually. The Jet Black is the stunningly glossy one you’ve seen all over the web, nicely hiding the newly-trimmed antenna lines and looking very sleek and cool in the process. It’s a fingerprint magnet, however, and even Apple admits that it’ll take scratches and scuffs faster than other versions – but it sure seems nice right out of the box.
Still, we’re more taken with the standard Black, which offers an attractive matte black backing along with the shinier front. It’s the colour to get this time around, even if the Jet Black ends up being in shorter supply in the short term.
WE LOVE #4: BRIGHT AND SHINY
Not only is the iPhone design largely the same this year, but even the screen resolution remains at a disadvantage compared to rivals. The 1334 x 750 display is a big step down from Android flagships, which often come in fabulous Quad HD configurations.
But while a bit less crisp, the iPhone 7’s screen is still nice to look at – and better than before, certainly. That’s because it’s not only 25% brighter than before, but it also features a wider colour gamut. Now colours seen more vibrant, and photos especially look fantastic.
WE LOVE #5: GOODBYE, 16GB
Nothing about the iPhone has been so frustrating in recent years as the stalwart 16GB starter model. That’s not enough storage for the average user, meaning you’ll either delete apps, games, and photos on a regular basis… or just splurge for the pricier models.
Luckily, it’s much less of a problem with the 32GB starting point on the iPhone 7. That provides some very welcome breathing room on the low end, while the larger versions boost up to 128GB and 256GB respectively. You might pine for a 64GB configuration somewhere in there, but ultimately, this is a big step in the right direction.
WE LOVE #6: HEAVY LIFTING
Apple says its new A10 Fusion system-on-a-chip is 40% faster than the iPhone 6s, and that the phone packs in 50% more graphics power… and sure enough, initial benchmark tests have shown blistering processing power. In fact, it’s ranking above even Samsung’s Exynos-toting powerhouses.
In everyday use, the iPhone 7 might not seem dramatically faster than last year’s phone, but it’s super speedy and will power increasingly advanced games in the months to come. Plus, iOS 10 is fantastic, and it runs brilliantly with the A10 Fusion behind it.
WE DON’T LOVE #1: PLUG-OUT
It’s everyone’s favourite knock against the iPhone 7, and yeah, it’s ours too: there’s no 3.5mm headphone port. Apple wasn’t the first to make this move (those were Android phones), but it’s easily the highest-profile device to ditch the tried-and-true audio technology.
Why make the shift? Apple says it’s dated tech and wants people to use Bluetooth wireless headphones or Lightning-connected ones, and has the AirPods on offer – as well as fresh Beats options, of course.
But for the vast majority of us who already have earbuds or cans we like, it means using an awkward (but included) adapter. Apple might be comfortable with pushing ahead new audio standards, but there’s real frustration on the user side of things.
WE DON’T LOVE #2: IT’S… THE SAME?
Although we just explained the many ways in which the iPhone 7 improves upon the iPhone 6s experience, that doesn’t change the fact that it looks almost exactly the same. It’s what is inside that counts and all that, but still, we hoped for something revolutionary… not just evolutionary.
Apple’s usual overhaul comes every other year, but the iPhone 7 is the third model to use this same design that originated with the iPhone 6. We still like it, but at the same time, we craved something truly exciting. That’s assumed to come next year when the iPhone notches its 10th anniversary.
It’s part of the reason why upgrading from an iPhone 6s is a touch… difficult, although annual buyers can still find plenty of reason to make the jump this time around.