Apple’s latest, iPhone 7, Brings Modest Improvements
At first glance, you might think the iPhone 7 was actually a 6s. Surprisingly, the design of the device hasn’t actually changed by much, at least on the outside. The most obvious changes are the camera humps, now larger on both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. In particular, the 7 plus includes not one, but two identical 12MP cameras, differentiated by their lenses. The antenna bands are also much less prominent on this year’s models. Let’s check out the other details below.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Camera
Without a doubt, the neatest announced feature for the iPhone 7 and 7 plus are the cameras. Both contain 12MP shooters with an F1.8 lens, great in low light. The 7 Plus, however, has two of these 12MP cameras built-in, each with a different lens. The standard lens is a typical 28mm wide-angle, while the second is a 56mm telephoto lens for grabbing up close shots at 2x compared to the primary camera. Beyond the 2x zoom, the iPhone 7 Plus also offers up to 10x software zoom, thanks to that telephoto lens. The standard model will zoom to 5x. Both phones feature a 7MP front facing camera that’s great for all your video chatting and periscoping needs.
Both phones offer standard optical image stabilization and a 6 element lens–features that appeared first in Windows Phones several years ago, designed by Nokia. It’s good that Apple’s finally catching up on some of these things, though. While some may complain that the cameras are “only 12MP”, really, that’s plenty.
The flash gets a notable improvement as well, featuring four-color LED’s that adjust their temperature according to the shooting environment. This should improve how pictures taken with a flash look dramatically, but we’ll wait to judge until we see it in person. Another nice touch with flash: the front facing camera has a new “retina flash” mode that also adjusts temperature according to the environment.
On the iPhone 7 Plus, the dual cameras, coupled with some software processing, creates a 3D depth map of your subject in real-time. Thanks to this clever idea, it can isolate your subjects, keep them sharply in focus, and then create a nice blur effect that simulates DSLR-like bokeh (blurry background). Apple was careful to go out of their way and emphasize that this will not replace your DSLR or a high-end camera, but that it’s meant to bring the camera in your pocket or purse closer to that experience without large cameras and lenses. The caveat? The new feature will arrive with a software update later this year. At least it’ll be free.
Now Water Resistant: Dunk Away!
If you’re one of those people who has trouble with your phone landing in the sink, toilet or fish bowl, the iPhone 7 might be a good upgrade for you. The new phone is resistant against splashes of water, to a standard of IP67. What does IP67 mean? IP means “Ingress protection”, which tells you how good the device’s chassis is at keeping outside stuff, well, outside. The 6 tells you that it’s completely sealed against dust. The 7 tells you that it’s protected from water ingress up to 1m in depth.
Long story short: unless your phone has taken some damage, you’re probably safe from most splashes, environments, and even an accidental dunk in the sink or toilet. Just don’t go crazy. The dishwasher will still likely kill your iPhone.
But What About the Guts?!
No nerdy article about an iPhone would be complete without at least some talk about guts, right? In typical Apple fashion, they don’t give us a lot, but here’s what we know:
The new A10 “Fusion” processor is twice as fast as the A9 that shipped in the iPhone 6. It is also more power efficient, allowing the phone to choose how much CPU to use based on what tasks are running. It is basically the Apple implementation of ARM’s “Big.little” paradigm, where the processor has a set of powerful cores and a second set of less powerful cores that draw less energy. In the case of iPhone 7, that means two “big” cores and two “little” cores.
There’s no official word on RAM, but rumors have long pegged the iPhone 7 as having 2GB and the 7 Plus as having 3GB. We’ll know soon enough when iFixit does one of their famous teardowns.
On the storage front, iPhone 7 finally abandons the 16GB model entirely, but that’s not all: 64GB is out the door, too. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will ship in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB variants only.
Cool! How Does IPhone 7 Sound?
Let’s be honest: iPhone has never been a sound powerhouse. Its built-in speakers have traditionally been tinny, bland, mono-only affairs that, at best, get the job done. But iPhone 7 ups the ante with stereo speakers for the first time. According to Apple, they’re twice as loud as the iPhone 6s. In my brief time as an iPhone 6s owner, I wasn’t impressed by its speaker at all, but then, I’ve never been impressed with a smartphone speaker, so take that as you will. At the very least, you get stereo now, so that’s cool.
The rumors about the headphone jack were true: it’s gone. In pursuit of thinness, Apple dumped the headphone jack. Apparently nobody noticed that the huge camera humps inherently mean the phone is not as thin as they claim, and that they could’ve used that space for battery capacity and a headphone jack, but hey–Apple. The bright side is that it does come with an adapter so you can still use your 3.5mm headphones on your new iPhone 7, via the lightning port.
What About Connectivity?
Apple’s really done its home work on the LTE front, as iPhone 7 ships with support for a blistering fast 450Mbps LTE speed. Whether you’ll get that or not depends on your carrier, location and signal strength, but it’s nice to know that if conditions are just right you can download data fast enough to burn through your data plan in a few hours. I kid, I kid. This is awesome.
VoLTE support lets you make voice calls over LTE, using high bandwidth streams for crystal clear calls. They’re also supporting calling over wifi, though this will vary by carrier. In the US, that means pretty much everyone except AT&T. Nerdy fun fact: the iPhone 7 supports 25 different LTE frequency bands. Damn. That’s a bunch.
There’s also 82.11ac with MIMO for your wifi needs, which should easily match or surpass even the fastest LTE speeds, provided you’ve connected to a compatible router or wifi access point.
Last but not least: Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2 is onboard, as you’d expect in 2016.
What About Battery Life? Talk Time? Yada Yada?
Oh, so you want to use your iPhone as a phone, too? What a weirdo. But hey, if that’s your thing, who am I to argue? You can expect up to 21 hours of 3G talk time, 16 days of standby time, 13 hours of internet use on 3G or LTE, 15 hours of internet use on Wifi, 15 hours of wireless video playback, or 60 hours of music playback. Pretty good, though let’s be honest: nobody will ever see those times because nobody uses their phones that way. Still, it’s great to know that all this has improved.
On the whole, it looks like iPhone 7 is a pretty sharp piece of kit. I can’t wait to get my hands on one! If you want even more specs on the iPhone 7, check out Apple’s detailed page.