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.
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.
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.