iPhone 7 Plus review

Standard

Design:

The new iPhone is not a massive change from the 6 and 6S. It features the same rounded edges and 4.7” and 5.5” screen sizes as before, and is the 3rd in a line of an iterative design started by the 6. The most notable differences are the new Black and Jet Black finishes and the larger camera bump which is now built into the enclosure. I personally love my Jet Black finish as it looks like a mirrored surface and the front and back meet seamlessly – almost like a slab of aluminium. It also feels great in the hand with a more grippy surface than its matte siblings. I have got micro-abrasions on mine but these are only really able to be seen in bright light and in normal light are not noticeable. I have however kept my phone in a case since I received it and have seen pictures on the internet with very bad scratches on the iPhone. If you take care of it, it’ll be fine.

One major difference and the cause of a lot of controversy with the new iPhone has to be the headphone jack – it’s gone. I thought I’d miss this a lot more than I did. The included adapter really helps the transition and just stays plugged into my earphones from now on which doesn’t really affect me. I also own a few bluetooth headphones and these work perfectly with the new iPhone. My only gripe has been when I have wanted to use my phone for Discord or any other App that needs headphones and charge. Usually I don’t need to do this but I prefer to plug in when I am gaming to stop the phone from dropping in battery too fast. My workaround was to use bluetooth headphones for this but the other solution would be to get a splitter, something that isn’t too expensive.

The main reason for removing the headphone jack in the iPhone was to increase waterproofing. The new iPhone finally gets my most desired feature. I no longer have to baby my phone in the rain or be wary when changing songs in the shower. From tests seen on the internet, the waterproofing is very good on this phone and usually better than the IP68 rating it has. Apple is usually very conservative with its rating systems and although I wouldn’t suggest going swimming with the phone, it’ll easily handle the odd splash or drop in the toilet. Using the phone with wet fingers or with droplets on the screen has also improved and I am very impressed with this. Before, a nearly dry hand was needed to operate the phone due to accidental inputs with the water droplets on the screen. On the new iPhone however, the rejection of these inputs has been sublime. Apple also claims a higher colour gamut screen on the iPhone which I didn’t really notice but I really noticed the 25% extra brightness which helps outdoors. I would love to see an OLED display on a phone but until VR comes to the iPhone, I really think that a 1080p panel boasts the best battery life/performance/DPI ratio on a 5.5” phone.

The new stereo speakers on the phone are another welcome addition I have wanted for a while. Apple claims a 50% increase in volume and I fully believe them. At max volume there is (almost) no distortion and they sound really loud – so loud I can leave my bluetooth speaker when I go to the shower. For casual listening, they are a god send. The automatic change when rotated is also great and the phone seems to output the same volume in both orientations, something I tested to see if it was the case. One thing to note with the added waterproofing is that when the speakers get wet, their volume reduces drastically and distortion is heard. This is solved when the phone dries after about 5-10 minutes but is just something to bear in mind.

Performance and Camera:

The performance on the iPhone 7 is just as good as the 6S. Although Apple claims a 40% increase in performance since the 6S, the UI is so smooth that you can’t notice it. It will be great for future proofing however and I welcome the change. Apple has swayed from its usual dual core chip however; the A10 is now quad-core although it doesn’t use all four cores at the same time. Two are low powered cores which use 1/5 of the power of the A9 with the same performance whilst the other two are the high performance cores with the 40% increase in compute. This really ingenuous solution along with the slightly larger battery has made sure that the iPhone lasts all but the most demanding days. I regularly ended the day with 20% left which is a lot better than the basically 0% my 6S Plus used to rock up on.

Both the front and rear cameras have been upgraded on the new model too. With a larger aperture, both can now take better low light photos. The front camera now takes 7MP photos and its low light performance has gotten really good – almost too good as now all my pores can be seen! The real star of the show is the back camera however. Low light performance is really good, on par with the S7, the current leader in this respect. Optical Image Stabilisation is also standard on all iPhone 7 models now which really helps with reducing the shake on videos and reducing blur in photos, especially in low light. The real step up for the 7 is the extra camera on the back (making 3 total). This camera is dubbed the ‘telephoto’ lens and is a 2x zoom from the normal. This allows great zooming without loss of quality. Another thing it enables is ‘Portrait mode’, a DSLR like option which allows the background to be blurred out. This, although still in beta, seems to be really good and has produced some amazing shots, better than any compact camera I have used and rivalling (not replacing) DSLR quality at first look.

Software Experience:

The new iPhone 7s all ship with iOS 10, Apple’s latest iteration of its mobile software. It does away with some things, namely ‘Slide to Unlock’, a legacy Apple creation and has now been replaced with ‘Press Home to Unlock’. This new method of unlock is really great for phones with Touch ID (not so great for non-Touch ID but that’s a different story) and along with raise to wake, makes your phone just seem more alive and useful. The widgets when swiping left are really useful for quick glances. I will look up my next lecture or check what reminders I have with a quick swipe and that will be it, a lot more convenient than before.

3D touch has been getting better and better and the new lock screen combined with 3D Touch has just become a really great experience. 3D Touching on a Notification will bring up quick actions and even sometimes an actual window with previews of messages. This is an ingenious feature which has really helped with quick replies and is just something that is fun to do. Before, 3D Touch was limited to previewing and shortcuts and now it is so much more. So many apps take advantage of it for extra content, quick settings and its convenience and tight integration is something you don’t find on any other smartphone. I have got used to shortcuts from my 6S and now use a few, not as many as Apple may hope but enough to justify it as a feature.

One of my favourite features about the new iPhone 7 has to be the Taptic Engine. It has been improved since the 6S to now vibrate on some other things happening in the system. For example pulling down the notification shade causes a small bump when it hits the bottom, when scrolling through the different minutes in the clock app, it will give a small bump at each one it scrolls past. Although these may seem like small things, this really gives the iPhone a mechanical feel which is really nice. I actively seek out ways to use these things as they just feel so futuristic whilst retro at the same time, a throwback to the mechanical days.

This Taptic Engine is also used to power the home button. No longer a physical switch, the home button is now a solid state button that activates when it senses a force on it. At first I was not so sure about the button. It feels different to anything I have used before and sometimes can feel like the whole bottom of the phone is moving. However, I quickly became used to it and now prefer it to anything else. It never fails and feels quite realistic and I welcome a change that will reduce the fragileness of a button whilst also improving its waterproofing capabilities.

Durability:
Over my month and a bit with the phone, I have (as mentioned) picked up a few micro abrasions on the phone. It goes everywhere with me; the gym, rock climbing, lectures, excursions and so on and looks almost new. I do use a screen protector however and over one of the parts where it is not covered, I have picked up a small scratch. I don’t baby my phone however. As it is all solid state I will chuck the phone on a desk and take it to places other people wouldn’t take it like rock climbing where chalk and the constant fear of people falling on your phone is rife. I really like the waterproofing of the phone as it means I can run it under a tap when done to wash off anything. I have had back protectors (like screen protectors but for the back of the phone) on however to reduce the risk of scratches however my first application didn’t go too well. When removing the film, I did notice that some of the markings were coming off the phone. These have just got fainter and are hard to see in normal light. I actually prefer this however as I never really liked the markings on the back of the phone however might be annoying when trying to read the serial number or any important information.

Conclusion:

The iPhone 7 is a great phone. After all the negativity of the removal of the headphone jack, it seems that many people actually can go without it, especially with the inclusion of an adapter in the box. The iPhone 7 has quite a few more features that do warrant its 7 name and its camera has been significantly upgraded in the low light department, taking really good pictures in the dark. Before with the 6S, I could see more in the dark than it, but the 7 seems to be able to pick up more than I can. I truly believe that this phone can sit with other flagship phones of 2016.

Photos coming soon!

I also do reviews for products on Amazon from time to time. Do check out my profile here

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