“Why should you want to know, don’t you mind about the future; don’t you try to think ahead. Save tomorrow for tomorrow; think about today instead.”
– Jesus Christ Superstar
The unforgettable words uttered by a hippie Jesus in Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s cult rock opera from the 1970s come to mind when I think about the iPhone 7 and its be-muscled cousin iPhone 7 Plus.
With so many rumors flying around before the official launch of Apple’s newest family members yesterday, it would seem like the launch itself was an anti-climax to the building crescendo of excitement and infuriation leading up to it.
So, on the one side, most of the rumors we’ve been writing about these past weeks have been true. On the other, however, the fact that these rumors were mostly true means that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are not nearly as thrilling as the buzz around them. But let’s go through the features now and see what the implications are for Apple fans still waiting to get their hands on one of these devices.
Photo Credits: All Photos copyright Apple, we do not hold the rights to any of these images, all of which are taken directly from Apple’s website.
Look Ma, No Antenna Lines
The first thing we noticed was the missing antenna lines that “awkwardly graced” the back of iPhone 6 and its siblings. Apple seems to have tidied up in this area, moving the antenna bands to the top and bottom of the phone, giving the rear panel a much cleaner look. Though that’s akin to minor cosmetic surgery, it does improve on the phone’s overall look. Unfortunately, other than that the iPhone 7 looks nearly identical to the previous batch of smartphones…when you look at the back panel. But it’s the front that really caught our eye.
Home Button Gone – Apple’s Version of Virtual Reality in Its Place
The physical has been replaced with the virtual, and it seems Apple did, in fact, decide to bring in a touch-triggered home button. You’ll still see the familiar circle representing the button, but you won’t feel that comforting click any more. A lot of die-hard Apple fans are going to feel a little technologically obsolete themselves now that the very thing that made iPhones…well, iPhones, is gone. RIP iPhone home button, you will be missed. Hopefully, the improved haptic touch (Taptic Engine, as it’s referred to) on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will compensate for the physical pleasure of pressing the home button, but I doubt that very much. That’s virtual reality for you – it will never replace the real thing.
“It doesn’t feel like a button at all, it’s a bummer.” – Dieter Bahn, The Verge
The Camera Angle
One of the greatest achievements of the new iPhone variants (if you can call it an achievement) is the improved camera capability. On the iPhone 7 there’s the f/1.8 aperture that should allow you to take better photos in low light. But Apple isn’t the first one to get there. Samsung’s S7 and S7 Edge phones from the Galaxy range of devices actually offer a better f/1.7 aperture. Remember, the smaller the number, the larger the aperture and, therefore, the better the night shots you’ll get. But both iPhone 7 and 7 Plus do have better ambient light sensors than previous models, along with OIS – Optical Image Stabilization – which means not as many “shaky hands” moments. And the multi-element lens on iPhone 7 will give you that much more clarity. 4K video recordings with the rear 12 MP camera should be better as well.
The iPhone 7 Plus, however, sports two camera lenses, one wide angle and one telephoto. Together, these lenses will give you better depth of field, which Apple says is ideal for portrait shots. The wide angle is obviously going to let you include more people in your photos – or bigger people, whatever the case may be.
The front camera is nothing to rave about, though, being the same f/2.2 as on the older models but with a greater 7 MP resolution. That combination should give you better selfies, but not as great in low-light situations. But you do get 1080p HD video recording on the front camera.
Apple has upgraded the memory options on both phones. The 16GB option seems to be gone forever. Base models are 32GB minimum, then it’s 128GB and the high-end phones are 256GB. It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft’s Surface Phone that was rumored to be launching the very same day as the iPhone (but it didn’t happen) can really come up with a 500GB option to beat everyone else in the market.
But with 256GB of memory, your phone can be a veritable vault of videos, photos and heavy applications without affecting the speed of your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus too much.
Where’s the 3.5mm Jack, Jack?
One of the most controversial rumors about iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus did, indeed, prove true. The elimination of the 3.5mm audio jack is a disappointment to many, but to be fair Apple does provide a lightning adaptor in the box, as well as lightning EarPods. But the problem now is, you can’t listen to music and charge your iPhone at the same time unless you go Bluetooth. I think Apple did that on purpose so more people try the Bluetooth tethering option, which Apple claims is four times better than analog. Of course, they also claim that the physical plugging-in-plugging-out of the audio jack could lead to wear and tear, but I say this: nobody really keeps one model of iPhone long enough for something like that to happen, do they?
The great part is that the earpiece speaker is now upgraded to external speaker quality levels. So they did kind of manage to achieve stereo sound after all, which is great news for music lovers.
The Price is Right
If you’re looking to buy either the iPhone 7 or the iPhone 7 Plus, then you’ll be happy to know that you now get the mid-tier memory variant (32GB) for $649 and $749, respectively. At the top end are the $849 and $949 variants with elephantine memories, so to speak.
Display: No “Little OLED EeHoo”!
It looks like Apple still isn’t ready for OLED technology, and decided to keep the IPS LCD panels for both models. Nothing to yodel about just yet, because even the True Tone that “the world’s top Apple analyst” Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said was going to be there wasn’t showcased at the launch. However, Apple did say that the “cinema standard” Retina HD Display is 25% brighter. Though True Tone is missing, there is improved color management and much wider color range, so that could save the situation.
First Time for Apple-Quadcore Combo
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both come with the A10 quadcore Apple Fusion chipsets, and this should give you a 50% boost in graphics performance and 40% improvement in CPU performance. To give credit where it’s due, the iPhone 6 and 6S variants are still said to be two of the fastest smartphones in the market even after a year of being out, but Apple has one-upped itself in this area. Unfortunately, the 3GB RAM isn’t coming this year on the iPhone 7 Plus, and this will disappoint some.
The Best iOS Yet – iOS 10 Preloaded
This is probably the coolest feature of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. iOS 10 has been available in beta for some time now, but comes preloaded on both models of iPhone 7. Here’s the link to iOS features. You can still upgrade your iPhone 5 and 6 variants to iOS 10 if you’re interested.
What I think about the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Judging by the mix of the good, the bad and the ugly, I’d say the iPhone 7 will still do well once it’s widely available all over the world. China and India are becoming major iPhone fans, and the proliferation of the “budget Apple phone”, the iPhone SE, in these markets have created a much healthier appetite for iPhones than ever before.
On the one side, there are folks who will prefer to stick with the iPhone 6 and its variants because of the lack of 3.5mm jack or no real design changes or perhaps the glaring absence of any real innovation. But I think the bulk of iPhone lovers will get either iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus just so they don’t miss out on any of Apple’s products.
Apple’s financial performance this year partially depends on how well the iPhone 7 models sell. With nearly all devices showing reduced sales over the past six months, the next six months will tell us whether the company’s fortunes will dip further or gain higher levels.
With Apple Music doing so well, video streaming soon to be a part of of the mix and the rapid expansion of Apple Pay’s capabilities getting strong market traction, the Cupertino smartphone giant is expanding its portfolio into strong multiple verticals that will ultimately reduce their dependency on device sales. Developed markets are already highly penetrated, emerging markets seem to prefer cheaper variants and people just aren’t upgrading their devices as frequently as before.
As such, I think Apple’s strategy for it’s future health is sound. Besides, when the 2017 iPhone comes out with major innovative changes, it could bring the iPhone back into the limelight. They might not even call it iPhone 8; I think being the tenth anniversary edition, it deserves a much cooler name. iPhone X, perhaps?
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