It has been a few weeks since Apple removed the wraps from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I have been lucky enough to test out both devices and after using both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus for around two weeks I want to share my experiences and thoughts with you.
When I begin reading rumors months ago about how the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were going to maintain the same design as the iPhone 6 line, I was a bit frustrated. At first, I was among those who thought Apple was being lazy. However, after using the new iPhones Apple’s decision to stick with the similar design no longer bothers me.
While I certainly believe continuing to make improvements in design is vital, I agree with Apple’s philosophy of not making changes for the sake of change. Apple has spent almost a decade perfecting the iPhone’s design, and I think for many people the iPhone 7 is fairly close.
Moreover, in preparation for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary next year, and what’s rumored to be the most massive redesign of the iPhone ever, it seems obvious to me why Apple decided to wait on a major design overhaul.
It still would have been nice if Apple had included a few new design improvements beyond the relocation of the antennae bands. That said, the ultimate reason the decision no long gets under my skin is the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus show off the extra time and effort Apple spent on other aspects of the new devices.
It hasn’t escaped me that Apple’s philosophy during years the iPhone doesn’t get a design overhaul is to introduce a new color. I assume their assumption is a new color at least makes some aspect of the design feel new. I always thought that mindset was a bit ridiculous, until Apple announced the Black and Jet Black iPhone models a few weeks ago. Ever since the iPhone 4s, I’ve missed having a black iPhone option, so I was quite excited when the new colors were announced.
Since the Jet Black models have been sold out at every Apple Store near me, I’ve been using the Black, a.k.a. matte black, models. That said, once the Jet Black is more readily available, I may swing by an Apple Store and trade in for a Jet Black model. While the warning Apple has given customers that the glossy Jet Black finish is more susceptible to scratches has surely turned some away, I think it just looks too sleek to pass up.
I have seen some strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum regarding the new Home Button on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. While that’s normally the case with iPhone features, this one seems more polarizing than usual. The new solid glass, Taptic powered Home Button certainly feels different than the physical Home Button of old, but it only took me a few minutes to get use to it.
If fact, I’m to the point now where I prefer the feel of the Taptic powered Home Button over the old. Also, I no longer have to worry about the Home Button getting stuck or not working since it is no longer a hardware button.
Water and Dust Resistance
One of my favorite hardware updates is the water resistance. Apple had definitely fallen behind other manufactures in this department, but I’m happy to see them catch up with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Even in the first few weeks of use, I’ve had some instances where the iPhone had got wet and it was nice not even having to worry about whether it would damage the device.
So far, I haven’t submerged either of the new iPhones mainly because I just don’t want to risk it. However, I’ve watched a number of video reviews where people have submerged the new iPhones for extended periods of time and pulled the devices out in seemingly perfect working condition.
I have an 18 month old little boy, and although I don’t even consider myself an amateur photographer, I sure do take a ton of photos. As anyone with a kid I’m sure has experienced, there is no time to sit and fiddle around with camera settings while you’re trying to capture a moment. For me, I need a camera that performs well without me doing anything other than pulling it out of my pocket and snapping a photo. Of course, the iPhone has long been the best camera for such scenarios for years now, and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus only continue the trend of year over year improvement.
The iPhone 7 features a 12MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture which Apple claims takes in 50 percent more light than the 6s. But beyond the technical lingo, the camera in the smaller iPhone 7 is significantly better than last years model. The most important update is Optical Image Stabilization, which has only been in the Plus models until now. Since I shoot quite a bit of video, using a camera with OIS is a necessity. The difference between the shaky video footage of an iPhone 6s compared to smooth and stable footage from and iPhone 7 is significant.
While the iPhone 7 camera is excellent, I’m sure you’ve heard of the show stopping feature exclusive to the iPhone 7 Plus. With the dual lens setup of the 7 Plus, Apple has managed to create a shallow depth of field effect by meshing together images taken from both cameras. The feature is currently only available in the iOS 10.1 Public Beta, but should be released to the general public soon.
I’m sure you’ve seen photos with a pin sharp foreground and a gorgeous blurred background shot with a high end DSLR camera. Although the feature is by no means perfect, I’m amazed at how well Apple has emulated this effect. Since the camera on the iPhone is one of the most important aspects to many people, my recommendation is if you can live with the larger size of the 7 Plus, the depth of field feature is worth bumping up from the small iPhone 7.
Another hardware change that I have genuinely appreciated about the iPhone 7 is the new stereo speakers. I listen to podcasts and other spoken word audio directly from my iPhone’s speaker on a regular basis, so this was a welcomed improvement. One speaker sill rests on the bottom of the device in its usual place, but Apple has added a front facing speaker in the grill on the iPhone’s forehead which results in twice the volume as the 6s models.
Listening to audio, whether it’s from a podcast, video or when I’m on speaker phone with someone, is a fundamental aspect of the iPhone for me and I’m honestly a bit surprised how much I already value the improved speakers on the new iPhones. I wouldn’t dream of going back to a 6s based on this feature alone.
In my two weeks of using both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, I did experience a major surprise. I purchased both models so I could test them out and then write about both with the intention of returning the smaller iPhone 7. After all, I have been using the 6s Plus for the past year and I’ve really enjoyed the extra screen real estate of the larger model.
However, after spending a week with the iPhone 7, I realized I had forgot how convenient it was using an iPhone with one hand without having to perform a juggling act. Like I mentioned before, one of major benefits of the 6s Plus over the 6 was the Optical Image Stabilization, and since I shoot so much video the feature means a lot to me. That said, the iPhone 7 camera is quite a bit better than the 6s Plus from last year, and while I will certainly miss the depth of field camera feature in the 7 Plus, I don’t think it’s enough to push me to keep the larger model. I will be returning the iPhone 7 Plus shortly and sticking with the smaller iPhone 7.