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iPhone 7 & 7 Plus | Review

Overview
Reviewed

15 December 2016

Launched

September 2016

Design

Innovative & precision cut unibody design
Incredibly strong 7000 Series aluminium
Two sizes, five finishes
New solid-state home button
IP67 splash & water resistant
Colours : Black, Jet Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold

Camera

7: 12 MP main camera
7+: 12 MP wide-angle
& telephoto cameras
Both: A10 fusion chip with
image signal processor
Quad-LED True Tone Flash
Optical Image Stabilisation
ƒ/1.8 aperture, six-element lens
4K high res video
7 MP FaceTime HD Camera

Memory

Available in 32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB

Ecosystem

A10 Fusion Chip
64-bit architecture
Quad-core 2.34 GHz
Embedded M10 motion coprocessor
Faster processing speed
Faster Graphics speed

Display

7: 4.7" Retina HD display
1334 x 750 resolution, 326 ppi
1400:1 contrast ratio (typical)
7+: 5.5" Retina HD display
1920 x 1080 resolution, 401 ppi
1300:1 contrast ratio (typical)
Both: 25% brighter
Wide colour gamut
3D multi-touch display
with IPS technology

Ease of use

iOS 10, Immersive stereo speakers, Taptic Engine, Touch ID, SiRi, hands-free calls

Connectivity

802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology, NFC

Battery

Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
7: up to 14 hrs 3G talk-time
Up to 10 days standby
Up to 14 hrs WiFi internet
Up to 13 hrs wireless video
Up to 40 hrs wireless audio
7+: up to 21 hrs 3G talk-time
Up to 16 days standby
Up to 15 hrs WiFi internet
Up to 14 hrs wireless video
Up to 60 hrs wireless audio

Portability

7: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
weight : 138 g
7+: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
weight : 188 g

Other Features

EarPods with lightening connector, 3.5 mm headphone jack adaptor, Fingerprint sensor, Assisted GPS and GLONASS, Digital compass, iBeacon micro-location, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Barometer, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor

Positives

Impressive camera
Improved performance
Water resistant

Negatives

Same design
No headphone jack
Dual camera only available with 7 Plus

Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
-Design
9.1
9.5
-Camera
9.5
9.5
-Memory
9.4
9.5
-Ecosystem
9.4
9.5
-Display
9.2
9.0
-Ease of use
9.1
9.5
-Connectivity
9.0
9.0
-Battery
8.6
9.0
-Portability
8.9
9.0
The Last Word

When Apple launched the iPhone 7 & 7+ I have to admit to being a little disappointed that there was no revolutionary changes, nothing new brought to the table that we haven't seen before and I stand by that initial feeling. That said, the iPhone 7/Plus has brought new features to the iPhone world, while it may be playing catch up, the changes were very much needed and after using them for a while I have to agree they have elevated the iPhone, even if only a bit. The improved camera is a welcome update and for the iPhone 7+ it has completely upgraded the photographic capabilities. The new A10 Fusion Chip not only made the iPhone 7/Plus snappier but also improved features like the camera and game playing. And of course, the fact that the iPhone is now water resistant is a huge plus for Apple lovers. On the down side, the dual-camera is only available with the iPhone 7+ and the removal of the headphone jack will take some getting used to and poses some 'difficulties' or 'challenges'. Overall, the iPhone 7/Plus has enough tweaks and upgrades that it will peak the interests of most Apple users and I think the changes will also interest many Android users, maybe for the first time.

9.1
Our Rating
9.3
User Rating
You have rated this

The Review

A look at the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, it’s water resistant but what else is new?

read the full review ...

Design

When it comes to design Apple hit it’s stride a few years ago and since then they have been tweaking the design rather than any big sweeping changes and the new iPhone 7/Plus is no different. In fact, at initial glances the iPhone 7/Plus looks just like the last release, with it’s innovative, precision cut unibody design made from incredibly strong 7000 Series aluminium which looks and feels fantastic while remaining quite sturdy. Aside from the slight size differences and slightly rounder smoother edges the iPhone 7/Plus brings three changes to the table, one aesthetic and two functional. The first is the very noticeable new colour options of black and jet black. While they may sound the same, one look and you see they are very different, ‘black’ is in the same vein as the other colour choices – a frosted aluminium, while the ‘jet black’ is a very shiny, polished finish that means you can barely see where the glass ends and aluminium begins. The ‘jet black’ option has been very popular which is not surprising, it looks stunning but it is prone to annoying fingerprint marks. Secondly is the much discussed and very noticeable missing headphone jack which Apple has replaced with a lightning port. While being among the first to do this is bound to get some negative reactions, given that all other headphones still use a standard headphone jack it is a little annoying. However, to combat this Apple have included a small dongle that coverts a standard 3.5 mm headphone connection to a lightning connector to fit the iPhone 7/Plus. Is it the way forward? that remains to be seen, but in the meantime you can use the provided dongle to use your favourite headphones, or of course you can connect wirelessly. Finally is the most desired design change, the iPhone 7/Plus is splash and water resistant with an IP67 rating. Yes ok, this is not something new, other phones have had this feature for some time yet but for iPhone users this is a novelty. It’s important to note the iPhone 7/Plus is not fully waterproof so don’t take it swimming, but you no longer need to worry about splashes while watching a film in the bath….. just don’t drop it in! Overall the design tweaks are not revolutionary but they’re certainly enough to make you sit up and notice, even if it is just to get that shiny new jet black iPhone.

Camera

One area where you will see a big difference between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7+ is the camera, but first lets look at what they both have in common. Apple’s new A10 fusion chip has not only improved the phones processing power but it also brings a new image signal processor which improves the camera’s abilities when taking multiple shots. Both the iPhone 7 and 7+ enjoy Quad-LED True Tone Flash, Optical Image Stabilisation and a ƒ/1.8 aperture, six-element lens which combined have improved the iPhone’s photographic capabilities. Both the iPhone 7 and 7+ can shoot 4K high resolution video, which is not new but what you would expect to see in a premium level phone. The iPhone 7 and 7+ enjoy a 7 MP FaceTime HD Camera, which is better than the usual 5 MP front camera you see on a smartphone. Image quality is not as good as the main camera which is to be expected but it is good for FaceTime calls and taking selfies.

iPhone 7 comes with a 12 MP main camera. While this is not the highest megapixel count we’ve seen on a premium level smartphone, there is still a very much divided opinion on whether a high megapixel count means superior quality images. In my opinion it does not, well not alone, a lower megapixel count with supporting functionality can result in superior images, you just need the right balance. And Apple have found a very good balance, the new A10 Fusion chip image signal processor along with optical image stabilisation and 6 element lens produces top quality images, though I still think Samsung clinches the best smartphone camera on the market, the iPhone 7 is not far behind. Images are crisp, clear, full of detail even when you zoom in close and there is no noticeable noise. Apple has always gone for a more natural tone, while colours are warm and distinct they do not have that unrealistic burst of colour that makes it look like you’ve photoshopped every image. Where Apple has clearly made improvements is low light images, compared to it’s predecessor there is a marked improvement with less noise, a step in the right direction.

iPhone 7+ comes packed with a 12 MP wide-angle camera, just like the iPhone 7, but it also comes with a second telephoto camera. Not only does the iPhone 7+ enjoy the same high quality, natural toned images as the iPhone 7, but the combination of the two cameras in one smartphone along with IPS technology means you can get extremely sharp images and video. In fact you can get 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom while keeping the images really sharp, something you cannot do with just a stand alone 12 MP camera. Another new feature thanks to the iPhone 7+ dual camera is ‘portrait mode’ or as you may already know it – bokeh, this is where you can take a photo that keeps the main image extremely sharp while blurring the background for a  beautiful, artistic look. While ‘bokeh’ or even dual camera are not revolutionary, we’ve seen them both before, its great to see Apple implement these improvements to raise the standard of their camera, it’s just a shame they didn’t make both the iPhone 7 and 7+ with a dual camera.

Memory

Apple has increased the storage available in the iPhone, which is not surprising but very welcome. Both the iPhone 7 and 7+ are available in 32 GB, 128 GB or 256 GB which will suit a wide range of customers. As the iPhone does not support an external SD slot for additional memory you should choose wisely when buying your iPhone, though you do have the option of the iCloud for additional on-line storage.

Ecosystem

Both the iPhone 7 and 7+ are equipped with Apple’s new A10 Fusion Chip, 64-bit architecture, Quad-core 2.34 GHz and embedded M10 motion coprocessor, which Apple claims produces faster processing speeds and faster graphics speeds. Apple’s claim that this is it’s fastest smartphone yet are definitely justified, while the iPhone 6S was by no means slow, the A10 processor it a tad snappier. All tasks are effortless, whether you have multiple applications open, want to play on-line games or stream movies on-line the iPhone 7 & 7+ run smoothly with no noticeable lag or frame drops. And, as I mentioned above the A10 Fusion Chip has also been designed to improve camera speed and this works like a dream. With a GeekBench 3 multi-core score of 5356 for the iPhone 7 and 5376 for the iPhone 7+ the A10 Fusion Chip has clearly increased the iPhones processing power. The iPhone 7 & 7+ also have a better AnTuTu score than the Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 Edge : iPhone 7 @ 160, 646 v Galaxy S7 @ 135,599; iPhone 7+ @ 168,795 v Galaxy S7 Edge @ 127,482.

Display

iPhone 7 comes with a 4.7″ Retina HD display with 1334 x 750 resolution, 326 ppi and 1400:1 contrast ratio (typical). This is the same as the iPhone 6S and while you would notice the difference in sharpness if you had a Galaxy S7 sitting next to your iPhone 7, in daily use you don’t notice the difference at all.

iPhone 7+ comes with a 5.5″ Retina HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401 ppi and 1300:1 contrast ratio (typical). Again this is the same pixel density and ratio as the iPhone 6S Plus and a tad sharper than the iPhone 7, but not quite as sharp as the Galaxy S7 Edge.

When it comes to the display the iPhone has not been the sharpest on the market, as mentioned above Samsung grabs this title, but that’s not to say the display isn’t good. The iPhone 6S display was pretty impressive and Apple hasn’t changed too much, in fact the pixel density is the exact same. What Apple has done is made the display 25% brighter, which has made it that bit easier to read outdoors, however some may find the automatic setting a little too bright but you can change this by going into the settings and adjusting it to your liking. Apple has also widened the colour gamut resulting in much richer, warmer colours that make the application tiles pop on the screen and also enhance movie viewing experience on the iPhone 7/Plus, especially animated films. What Apple has kept from the iPhone 6S is the 3D multi-touch display with IPS technology which feels just as responsive as the iPhone 6S and still a joy to use, however we are still waiting on Apple to release the full potential of this feature. Overall the display is crisp, sharp with rich warm colours and viewing angles are good, while not top dog it’s certainly among the best display currently available, with the slight tweaks Apple has made you won’t be disappointed if you upgrade.

Ease of Use

The iPhone 7/Plus comes with the latest iOS 10 which has brought some new features to the table like swiping right on the lock screen brings up the camera app and swiping left brings you the new notification and update page.  These are more like tweaks, much like the rest of the iPhone 7/Plus updates, however there is a nice new feature where your iPhone 7/Plus will wake up when you pick it up, is it necessary? maybe not but it is a feature we’ve seen on smartwatches and it’s not surprising were seeing that cross-over. The new solid-state home button means you don’t actually ‘click’ the home button anymore but rather press your thumb to it, it works just as well but you may miss that clicking action at first. The home button again acts as a fingerprint sensor for Touch ID, which has definitely been improved, but is not yet perfect. Apple have also placed a Taptic Engine in the iPhone 7/Plus which works very well with the new A10 Fusion Chip, one place you will find this feature very impressive is while playing games, you get better, more realistic feedback when crashing into a wall or shooting a gun. The iPhone 7/Plus also feature 3D Touch, like we saw in the iPhone 6S, which Apple states will allow your phone to do different actions depending on how hard you press, this feature has yet to reach it’s full potential though we hope to see more with the next iOS update in the New Year.  As we mentioned earlier Apple have disposed of the 3.5 mm jack and just kept the single lightening connector, which doubles as your charging port and headphone port. As controversial as this topic is, the one thing is does mean is you cannot charge your phone while listening to music, well not unless you are listening wirelessly or you pick up an adaptor, it’s not a deal breaker but it is a little annoying and note worthy.

Connectivity

The iPhone 7/Plus supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology and NFC. Connectivity is good, calls are clear and loud.

Battery Life

Both the iPhone 7 and 7+ come with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, however battery life does differ as you have seen in the past, which is to be expected.

iPhone 7 gets up to 14 hrs 3G talk-time, up to 10 days standby, up to 14 hrs WiFi internet, up to 13 hrs wireless video and up to 40 hrs wireless audio. Overall what this means is, according to Apple, the iPhone 7 lasts about two hours longer than the iPhone 6. In reality this was a little difficult to see, with very heavy usage you will still be looking for your charger in the afternoon. That said, this is heavy usage, so unless you are playing video’s or games all day the average person will get to the end of the day before needing a charge, though you will need one every night.

While the iPhone 7 + gets up to 21 hrs 3G talk-time, up to 16 days standby, up to 15 hrs WiFi internet, up to 14 hrs wireless video and up to 60 hrs wireless audio. Apple stats this gives you an extra hour battery life compared to the iPhone 6 Plus, though again this isn’t really noticeable, even less so than the iPhone 7. In reality what this means is you easily get a day of heavy usage without needing a charge, you can watch films and play games for hours without any worry. And even better, the average user will get about half way through the second day before needing to reach for the charger, some may even get to the end of the second day.

Overall, both battery lives are good, solid and on par with the competition. While we are still waiting on the ground breaking smartphone to blow the competition’s battery life out of the water, that elusive week long battery we all dream of, the iPhone 7/Plus is satisfactory.

Portability

iPhone 7 weighs a lightweight 138 g. The size and weight difference between the iPhone 7 and 6S are not noticeable, though I’m sure Apple is adamant those 5 grams make a big difference. The iPhone 7 is among the thinnest and lightest smartphones on the market and is also quite sturdy (compared to when they initially changed the design). That said I would still invest in a case to protect the impressive display and gorgeous design, especially if you buy the ‘jet black’ phone as those fingerprint marks get annoying.

iPhone 7 + weighs a heavier but still light 188 g. The size difference between the iPhone 7 and 7+ is very noticeable and means the 7+ is more difficult to manage for one-handed use though not impossible. The larger size also means you will notice the iPhone 7+ in your pocket more than the iPhone 7, but thanks to Apple’s thin and light design it is very portable, a good compromise for someone looking for something bigger than a smartphone but don’t want to go as big as a tablet.

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phone, smartphone, apple, iPhone, iPhone 7, iOS
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About The Author
Lynne Pettre
Reviewing the latest tech in Ireland and across the globe.