The iPhone 7 has arrived, after causing widespread riots around the globe for some bizarre minimalist design choices seemingly geared against the million of wired headphone users in the world. Despite some controversy, we all know the iPhone will still sell, forever and ever until we all live in tiny Apple brand boxes in the consumer slave districts of iPhone mega-cities, just awaiting the sweet embrace of death, or a new iPad.
So, time for the hard hitting questions. Is this new iPhone only slightly different from the last? Yes. Is it very expensive? Yes. Will it change your life? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
We can complain and complain about how little Apple innovates on a solid design, but the reality is that this won’t change. iPhones are a standard of quality for smart-phones and user friendly interfaces, they’re stupidly popular and people genuinely love them. Now that’s out of the way, what’s so good about the iPhone 7?
You should already know the answer to that question if you’ve ever used an iPhone before, which can be summed up with ‘the same, but kinda different’. You still get the established high quality here, with a few boosts to the battery, a waterproofed build and an improved camera to sweeten the deal.
We checked out the 128GB version, which bumps the price from £599 to £699. The design is hardly worth a mention as you already know exactly what it looks and feels like, but the removal of the headphone jack is just as annoying as it sounded. The wireless EarPods are hardly poor quality, but the extra effort of using a separate dongle to attach any wired headphones is a pain. You genuinely don’t need the EarPods, which are overpriced (£159) and simply not worth the effort. But thankfully the complaints end here.
The water proofing is an excellent addition, if somewhat unexciting, but the most interesting change is the home button. Rather than following in the footsteps of past models, it has become a significantly different beast. No longer clickable, the home button responds to the sensitivity of your push to dictate what happens, which can take some time to get used to. But once you find yourself normalised to this radical new design choice, it become a fairly natural method of using the phone. Do we miss the older methods of mashing on the home button, yes, but only out of a misplaced sense of nostalgia.
The screen is brighter and the sound vastly improved with the addition of new dual speakers, so videos and gaming are going to be noticeably better with the iPhone 7.
Behind the scenes the new A10 Fusion processor is excellent, providing a fast and reliable experience that feels so right. Longevity is the question here, and we’d be interested to know how it handles a few years of stress (despite most iPhone users fear of owning obsolete technology). Quad-core powered and energy optimised to reduced power draw on basic tasks, this is a key feature that will catch a lot of attention from the tech savvy smartphone shoppers.
In the end, it’s a massive improvement over the 6S, which tears through anything you can throw at it without breaking a sweat. If a smartphone could bench press, the iPhone 7 would put even Arnold to shame. As a result, audio streaming and apps are a joy to use, with a number of high quality tools installed by default. Not to mention iOS 10, which is a huge success and provides a host of improvements, such as a ‘raise to wake’ feature which wakes the iPhone when picked up. There is a lot more info on display, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming, instead falling into the ‘near-perfect’ territory.
Battery life is more of the same, improved, but still weaker than competitors, which at this point is frustrating. According to a number of sources, the power increase leads up to only around a 10% gain, which is underwhelming. In practice, the iPhone 7 does the job, but always leads to a tension filled break for a charging port on the way home from work.
The camera is top notch as always, but with only a few noteworthy additions to be found (are we sounding like a broken record or what?). Low light performance is excellent and colour is warm and rich, but it does little to distance itself from the 6S. Not exactly worth the upgrade by itself, but an improvement none the less.
So, conclusions? It’s an iPhone.
Reviewing an iPhone is usually a struggle because there just isn’t too much to say, simply due to how familiar each release is. What little notable improvements there are do make sure fans will walk away satisfied, and if you can afford it, having the iPhone 7 as your first Apple device is hardly a poor choice.
What you get here is a great phone, just unremarkable in comparison to others on the market. It avoids innovation in favour of improvement, and does a fine job doing so, just don’t expect to be blown away by what your upgrade nets you.