Hands on with iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus

All the new an­nounce­ments from Ap­ple’s Septem­ber launch event


While many of us look for­ward to Christ­mas as the sea­son of gift-giv­ing, for Ap­ple fans there’s an­other time of year for shiny new toys: early Septem­ber.

It’s the most won­der­ful time of year, when Tim Cook and Jony Ive dis­pense new iPhones and iPads to the grate­ful masses, and Phil Schiller makes awk­ward jokes on stage. Yes, we love Ap­ple’s Septem­ber launch events, even if they’re not quite Christ­mas. Clearly we’ve all been very good this year, be­cause Ap­ple un­leashed a whole lot of good­ies. Here’s what was un­der the Christ­mas tree this time.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

An­other year, an­other Ap­ple event where most of the juici­est de­tails were leaked months in ad­vance. Never mind, be­cause they were good de­tails, so we’re glad they came true.

There were cos­metic changes – a new matte Black op­tion, as well as a glossy Jet Black fin­ish (but be sure to use a case with that one to avoid ugly scratch marks and un­sightly fin­ger­prints). As ex­pected, the an­tenna lines have be­come more in­te­grated into the iPhone body so you get one un­in­ter­rupted fin­ish on the back. So far, so pretty.

But this wasn’t just a sim­ple aes­thetic up­date for the iPhone – there are some se­ri­ous changes to the com­po­nents. We’ll start with

prob­a­bly the most in­fa­mous of all the pre­re­lease ru­mours: the head­phone jack (or the lack thereof). That’s right, Ap­ple’s go­ing wire­less with the iPhone 7. Or, to be more ac­cu­rate, wire­less and Light­ning-pow­ered, be­cause a pair of Light­ning EarPods are in­cluded in the box with every iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Help­fully, Ap­ple is also in­clud­ing a Light­ning to 3.5mm head­phone jack adap­tor in every box for free – per­haps Tim Cook is get­ting into the fes­tive spirit early af­ter all.

But enough about Light­ning, what about wire­less? Well, Ap­ple un­veiled the AirPods, its own wire­less ear­phones, and they re­ally do look great – see the next page for more in­for­ma­tion. They aren’t ex­actly cheap though, and one pair will set you back a cool £159. Of course, now Ap­ple is go­ing down the wire­less route, any wired head­phones you may own will need to make use of the adap­tor Ap­ple pro­vides. If you don’t fancy get­ting the AirPods, Ap­ple has also made some changes to its Beats range of au­dio gear. The W1 wire­less chip that drives the AirPods is also com­ing to Beats in the Solo3, Power­beats3 and BeatsX ranges. BeatsX is a new range that’s de­signed to be light and af­ford­able, ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple. They’re ‘wire­less’ in the sense that they don’t need to be phys­i­cally hooked up to your iPhone, but they still fea­ture a ca­ble with an in­line re­mote be­tween the two ear­phones. If the price of the AirPods is a lit­tle galling, you may find the BeatsX to be (slightly) more palat­able at £130.

Snap happy

That’s all great, but there’s one thing that got us re­ally ex­cited (per­haps un­healthily so), and that’s the iPhone’s up­dated cam­era. In both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the cam­eras come with op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion; it’s not just lim­ited to the Plus model, as it was with the iPhone 6s. There’s a new, wider f/1.8 aper­ture lens with a 12MP sen­sor on the rear-fac­ing cam­era and a 7MP sen­sor on the front-fac­ing one (for all those pin-sharp self­ies you’ll no doubt be tak­ing).

There were tons of other cam­era up­dates from Ap­ple: the TrueTone flash now has four LEDS and is 50% brighter than on the 6s, and Live Pho­tos now fea­ture im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion and can be used by third-party apps through new edit­ing and cap­ture APIs. Talk­ing of APIs, there’s now a raw im­age API too – great news for peo­ple who like to edit pho­tos on

Any wired head­phones you own will need to use the bun­dled 3.5mm adap­tor

their iPhones. Ap­ple also touted the cam­era’s wide colour gamut, which en­ables you to take brighter, more vivid pho­tos. All this makes for a cam­era boost to the 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones.

But it’s on the 7 Plus model where the cam­era re­ally stole the show. Once again, the ru­mours were true – the 7 Plus has a du­al­cam­era setup. One is the same lens as in the reg­u­lar iPhone 7, but a sec­ond lens and 12MP sen­sor have been added, tak­ing what’s al­ready an amaz­ing cam­era and mak­ing it as­tound­ing.

Power play

What can you do with it? Well, the sec­ond lens is a tele­photo lens, which means it in­tro­duces 2x op­ti­cal zoom to the iPhone, as well as 10x dig­i­tal zoom. That alone is a great new as­set to have, but there’s more. Hav­ing two cam­eras grants the 7 Plus a level of depth aware­ness – take a pic­ture and the cam­era uses ma­chine learn­ing to scan for faces, then blurs the back­ground be­hind the sub­ject. This is great for por­traits and macro photography, and it looks stun­ning. Even bet­ter, it does all this in real time as you’re lin­ing up a shot, so you can see how it’ll look be­fore snap­ping away. The re­sults are truly amaz­ing – it was one of our favourite mo­ments from the show.

In other areas, the new solid-state Home but­ton is pres­sure-sen­si­tive and of­fers hap­tic feed­back, and it can be cus­tomised with dif­fer­ent func­tions. The Retina HD dis­play is 25% brighter than the one in the iPhone 6s, and there are stereo speak­ers (at the top and bot­tom) that are twice the vol­ume of last year’s phones. Oh, and the iPhone 7 is water- and dust-re­sis­tant to a rat­ing of IP67.

Then there’s the chip, the A10 Fu­sion. It’s a quad-core pro­ces­sor with two ‘high­per­for­mance’ cores (40% faster than the A9) and two ‘ef­fi­ciency’ cores (which use one-fifth the power of the high-per­for­mance cores). The A10 Fu­sion’s graph­ics are some­thing to be­hold as well – it’s 50% faster than the A9 and, in the words of Phil Schiller, brings “con­sole-level gam­ing” to the iPhone 7. And it al­lows for bet­ter app per­for­mance in other ways – Ap­ple pointed to Adobe Light­room be­ing able to run 90% of its desk­top fea­tures in the iOS ver­sion.

Bat­tery life got a lit­tle bump too, with the iPhone 7 last­ing two hours longer than the 6s, and the 7 Plus an hour more than the 6s Plus.

It takes an amaz­ing cam­era and makes it as­tound­ing

The new iPhones are the same size as the 6s and 6s Plus, but the cam­era po­si­tions mean you’ll need a new case.

The hid­den an­ten­nas make for a smoother fin­ish on the back of the iPhone 7.

Ap­ple prom­ises “con­sole-level gam­ing” thanks to the A10 Fu­sion chip.

The AirPods are more than just ear­phones – they let you make calls and ac­cess Siri, too.

The 7 Plus comes with a high-per­for­mance, dual-cam setup.

Ap­ple touted the iPhone 7’s vivid pho­tos, es­pe­cially in low light con­di­tions where phone cam­eras of­ten strug­gle.

The AirPods are Ap­ple’s first wire­less ear­buds for iPhone.

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