iPhone 7

So much has been written about this phone. A lot of opinion about "should you get it or not". That kind of commentary is utterly useless to me.

Here is the thing. A long time ago, I decided that there was at least one luxury I wanted to enjoy. And that was a brand new iPhone ever year. There are a few reasons for this... some obvious now and some not so obvious. Beyond the fact that my team produces software for the iPhone, I also just want to experience everything new about it as soon as it's ready. It also means experiencing the changes Apple is making to the broader ecosystem (like removing the headphone jack). So with that said, I'll do a quick overview of why I think the iPhone 7 is an obvious upgrade.

 

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s and iPhone 6

If you are rocking an iPhone 6, it's now 2 years old. If your battery is still getting you through a full day well congrats. Otherwise you are probably charging multiple times a day. Upgrade. What did you miss out from on the 6s? Better camera, 3D touch, Live Photos, faster processor.

If you are using a 6s, you are entering year 2 and probably don't need to upgrade. But this isn's about need. It's about what invented things you are missing out on.

Here is a roundup of what the new iPhone 7 offers you

New colors - after all, this is a lifestyle device. Apple continues to use color / design to coax people into upgrading. New this release are Matte Black (yes please) and Jet Black. The difference between the two is how polished the Jet Black is. I have not seen one in person, but it looks gorgeous. I am a matte black person though.

Water proof* - for all intents and purposes the new iPhone can be thrown into a pool for 5 minutes or longer without any issues. Android users have had this for a while, but this is new for Apple. I plan on swimming with mine in Hawaii next spring. I think this is a huge deal as it means you can now take video and photos of things previously limited to specialized under water cameras. Watch this crazy video to see the limits of the new iPhone.

Storage - the new iPhone are offered in very reasonable 32/128/256. Go for the 128GB as the standard model and only 256GB if you don't want to subscribe to iCloud Storage or paln on shooting a lot of 4K video. The 128GB option costs the same as last year's 64GB option. So you can get more storage for less money.

Cameras - The biggest change in every new iPhone is always the camera. Given how many photos I take, this is reason alone to upgrade.

 There is a lot going on with this camera

There is a lot going on with this camera

The new iPhone 7 Plus has TWO cameras. The iPhone shoots at a focal length of 28mm. The new lens is 2x that which is 56mm. The aperture of the 28mm lens is now improved to f1.8 from f2.2. What does that mean? Faster lens, better able to capture low light and more depth of field (nice background blur). 56mm is more of a traditional focal length (close to 50mm). This lens is not as fast at f2.8 but optical zoom is real. That means at the next kid's play or performance you won't have the person's head in front of you in the shot... nor will you have a blurry low quality photo. If you love your kids (like I do) then iPhone 7 Pluses for everyone! If you want to read more, here is a good overview of what it means to have a 56mm lens.

Also new to both iPhone is optical image stabilization. This means less blurry photos. This was previously only available on the 6 Plus.

Battery - The new iPhones have bigger batteries. Not significantly bigger but I'll take it.

Screen - The new iPhones have brighter screens. 25% brighter and wider color gamut like the iMacs and iPad Pros.

Speed - It's faster. It's always faster. "I feel the need... the need for speed" - word's to live by

Home Button - The new home button is no longer a button. Like Apple's trackpads, the click is simulated. If you have used a Mac lately you may not even know that the trackpad click is simulated because it's so good. The home button is not as good as this, but IMHO, it's fine. I personally like that there is one less button, moving part to wear out.

Stereo Speakers - if you have used an iPad Pro, you have probably been impressed with the sound. Its LOUD and comes out from every corner. So loud that on our last trip I ditched the bluetooth speaker and just played from the iPad. The iPhone 7 now has two speakers on the phone, one in the regular place and the other is the earpiece used for phone calls.

Memory - the new iPhone 7 Plus has 3GB of ram, putting in on par with the iPad Pro in terms of specs. This is a big deal as it means more stuff running in memory and hopefully snappier performance.

No headphone jack - Arguably the thing the whole internet was upset about... I really don't care. I don't see this as a big deal. Wireless headphones have been here for a while. They are great. Super convenient. Expect them to get even better. Apple has also solved the most complex part of wireless speakers: setting up and connecting through their new W1 chip found on the new AirPods and Beats headphones.

If you must, Apple includes an adapter for your headphones in every box. You can also pick up more for $9. I have a pair of noise cancelling headphones that are wired, so I plan to use this on flights. I expect Bose will offer more wireless options like the QC35.

Plus vs non Plus

For some people this debate is heretical since they are still rocking the teeny tiny iPhone 5/5s/SE.

For me, the Plus wins over the non plus for 4 reasons:

  1. Two camera lenses for optical zoom
  2. More battery life 
  3. Higher resolution screen
  4. More memory (3GB for plus vs 2GB for non plus)

I have adapted to the bigger form factor and don't plan to go back.

Accessories

I won't be rocking a case with my phone. That is why I have Apple Care+ and now with $29 screen changes it's an even better deal. However, I suspect any repair to the screen could impact the water resistance.

Putting a case on a Plus model really turns it into a giant phone so I'd avoid if possible.

If you must get a case then my reccomendations are:

  1. Peel case - thin and nearly invisible in colors to match your phone.
  2. Wally Stick on Wallet - I love these. Currently rocking the Wally Junior.
  3. Apple Leather or Silicon case - these are really high quality and the new leather cases have aluminum insets.

For Headphones, I am really interested in the new Apple AirPods. The reviews have been largely positive. Sadly they are not out yet. Expect a review in October. I may also try out some of the new Beats.

Final thoughts

I think this is a solid upgrade for v3 of a hardware design. If you have a 6 upgrade. If you have a 6s consider how important the features above are.

There are some things I wish the iPhone had, so it's worth mentioning them.

  1. Wireless charging - or more like inductive charging like the Apple Watch
  2. Fast charging - anything faster would be great
  3. Three lenses - why stop at 2. I'd love a portrait focal length like 84mm.

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