Apple’s newest installment to the iPhone series wasn’t a surprise, but it does offer a few choice upgrades for anyone looking for a new phone, or a newer iPhone.
Software aside, there is a substantial amount of new hardware in the newer models – which are called the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. Unlocking your new phone will present the first big change, you will notice a redesigned ‘Home Button’ straight away. Now you no longer press the home button to activate its features, you just simply hold your finger over it and apply light pressure. Now the button is more like the new trackpads on MacBook and Macbook Air models, not a gigantic change but one that should be pointed out. The new haptic feedback works as your button-press, and while it may be slightly different, it shouldn’t really change the way you operate your phone. The new iOS 10 update got rid of the ‘Swipe to Unlock’ feature at start-up, which is much more of a difference than the newly designed home-button. If you find that the button is giving you trouble, you can simply adjust how much pressure is needed to ‘press’ the home button, that feature is available in the settings menu.
This haptic feedback is present throughout the phone’s many functions. You can adjust how it operates with notifications, calls, confirmations, and it’s used in some games and apps. The list of third-party apps that will use the technology is sure to grow, but just like the 3D Touch function, it will be up to the developer to incorporate the feature.
If you caught Apple’s presentation this month then you probably are aware of Apple’s obsession with color and brightness on the new iPhone 7 screen. Photography and video was a huge part of Apple’s presentation this year, with Apple constantly reminding viewers of how marvelous their photos and videos will look with the new devices.
For the most part this is true. While the screens aren’t exactly the best in the industry (at least by resolution or PPI) they are a great upgrade from last year’s models. The entire ‘wide color spectrum’ that Apple promised earlier this month will make a tremendous difference when you’re looking at pictures, or even some videos, but it will be up to social-media apps and video-streaming sites to optimize their platforms for use with the hardware. Instagram is one app that already promised to make upgrades to take advantage of the new hardware, and more apps are likely to follow suit over the next few months.
While these changes are all internal, how you use your iPhone really won’t change at all. The operating system is iOS 10, which is available for previous models as well, and most of the functions and features are carry-over from last year’s offerings. Operations, pictures, games and video are the big improvements, but it’s more of a luxury upgrade than anything else.
Apple removing the headphone jack was the talk of the town when it was finally confirmed. That will most likely be the biggest change when upgrading or switching to the iPhone 7 model. If you are hesitant about the switch, Apple is offering an adapter if you have to have your classic headset input on-hand. Losing the headphone jack also helped make the iPhone 7 water resistant, which has been a standard in other phones for a while. You will get a fancy pair of EarPods, now with a lightning connecter, when you pick up your new iPhone 7 – but they aren’t Apple’s newest truly-wireless headphones – the AirPods. Those will set you back $150 and are basically what Apple will be pushing now that the headphone jack is gone.
Speaking of sound, stereo speakers finally came to the iPhone! The function has already been standard on other company’s flagship phones for the last few years, but Apple finally came around and made it standard on the new iPhone 7. The sound is a vast improvement over previous generations, but it won’t replace your favorite bluetooth speakers at this point.
Apple did improve the camera this time around, offering a 12MP camera on the back with optical image stabilization. The front FaceTime HD camera has been upgraded to 7MP, and using TrueTone flash, your selfies will look better than ever. The new ƒ/1.8 aperture will help you take better pictures in low-light areas, and the wide color capture will offer far better looking pictures than your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus ever could.
The iPhone 7 still offers a video-capture at 4K resolution, with built-in editing capabilities through iMovie. Thanks to the new two-camera system on the back, you can zoom in without losing resolution like you would in previous iPhones. The telephoto lens will allow a 10x zoom, but 5x seemed to be the point where the resolution started to drop off considerably. The dual-camera system will also allow you to create fantastic effects, if everything goes according to plan, which Apple demonstrated during its presentation. Apple’s new camera system makes an appearance in the promotional video below.
All of these sound and visual improvements are enough to warrant putting an iPhone 7 on your compare list, but the hardware that runs it is also worth calling out. Tucked away inside the iPhone 7 is the all-new A10 Fusion chip, designed with four cores to balance power and efficiency.
There are two high performance cores, which handle your work-heavy tasks like video-streaming and games, and two low-power cores that conserve battery while maintaining your general tasks like notifications and synching. Apple has always had terrific processors in the company’s iPhone line, they are some of the best in the industry, and the A10 Fusion is a perfect addition to Apple’s lineup.
You won’t really notice a difference until you start putting the phone through a workout, but it has plenty of power to keep up with event the heaviest of multitaskers and gamers.
If you are using an iPhone 5, or 5C, the upgrade to an iPhone 7 will be substantial. Features aside, the hardware upgrade alone will make your daily use with the phone much more enjoyable. Things start to get murky when you suggest upgrading from the iPhone 6S or the iPhone 6S Plus. These were terrific installments to the iPhone line, and their hardware really hasn’t been maxed out by iOS 10 or by third-party apps at this point. The new iPhone 7 line will surely be faster, offer better sound, and has a better camera and screen, but not so much so that I would say everyone should upgrade immediately.
I think everyone hopes that Apple dramatically redesigns the iPhone with every new installment, and when the changes are incremental, it can seem like a disappointment. Apple has found great success with a steady stream of upgrades, which may be small, but are aimed at power and efficiency. You’ll find both in the new iPhone 7, but you’ll find even more when Apple eventually announces the iPhone 7S or iPhone Plus (whatever it’s name finally is). In any case the phone is a magnificent device, Apple continues to lead the industry in both sales and with a lot of its specs, but a jump to the iPhone 7 should be from a phone that it leaps ahead of, not one that is just marginally inferior.