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iPhone 7 Review: Two Months Later
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Review

iPhone 7 Review: Two Months Later

by November 13, 2016
The iPhone 7 has been around for two months now, it is time for a full, in depth, review just in time for anyone hoping to pick one up for Christmas.
Overview
Processor

Quad core A10 Fusion

Platform

iOS 10

Memory

RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32/128/256GB

Features

Fingerprint sensor
3D touch capabilities
IP67 Water and dust resistant
Apple Pay

Dimensions

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm
Weight: 138g

It has almost been two months since the iPhone 7’s release and I have been using it full time since its release on the 16th of September. Now I am ready to give my full, in depth, review on the iPhone 7.

Design

Apple didn’t change much with the iPhone 7 in terms of design. From the front it is identical to the iPhone 6S and 6. This is something that a lot of people are angry about but not me. I like the fact that they have stuck with the design of the iPhone 6 because I don’t see many ways of really improving it. One reason I think that Apple refrained from redesigning the iPhone 7 is because they have something big planned for us with the iPhone 8. Maybe some big redesign.

From the back, you can see some of the slight design changes that are apparent on the iPhone 7. The largest being the antenna lines no longer cutting the phones chin and forehead off but rather blending in over them. A very welcome design change. Another change in the design of the iPhone 7 is the camera hump. Now instead of the camera hump being moulded from a different piece of metal it is moulded from the same piece of metal that the chassis is moulded from creating a seamless integration between the camera and the chassis. This is also a welcome change to the iPhone 7’s design. I still believe that the iPhone 7 is too slippery which is why I went ahead and put a DBrand skin on mine to add some protection and some grip.

iPhone 7

Display and Speakers

In all honesty I am disappointed that Apple did not upgrade the display resolution on the iPhone 7. At least to 1080p. We are still stuck with the same old 750p screen we have had for a more than 3 years now. Not entirely true actually. Apple may not have upgraded the screen’s resolution but they did increase some other traits of it. For example, the display can now get noticeably brighter compared to the iPhone 6 and 6S. About 25% brighter. This is a significant upgrade to the screen but I would still rather have a higher resolution display. The display now also boasts a wider colour gamut which means that colours now pop more. Of course it is not as vibrant as the OLED’s found on the Samsung Galaxy S7 but then again what is? 3D touch is still present and more useful than ever. More on 3D touch later.

The speakers are still downward facing. Which is, again, disappointing but expected. However, Apple did something that no one really expected. They paired the phone call speaker at the top of the phone with the speakers on the bottom of the phone to create a stereo experience. Yes, it is not as good as front facing speakers but it is better than just downward facing speakers. A step in the right direction for Apple.

Headphone Jack and Home Button

The biggest change to the iPhone 7 is of course the one thing that everyone has been talking about: The removal of the headphone jack. Now, Apple wants everyone to use the lightning port for headphones. To help with the transition Apple have included a headphone jack to lightning dongle. How bad is the removal of headphone jack actually? Well it’s not as bad as people make it sound. In day to day use I just simply plug my headphone into the dongle and I’m on my way but in some situations it is really annoying. The most annoying situation is easily when you are travelling and want to plug in for some extra juice while listening to music. Only way you could do that would be if you had wireless headphones which a lot of people do not have.

The final design change of the iPhone 7 is the new home button. Yes, it is not actually a button but rather a piece of glass with force touch capabilities. I like this design change a lot. It has a completely different feel from a real physical button. When you press the button it feels like you are pressing the whole front of the phone down which is a pretty satisfying feeling. Furthermore, the move to haptic engine feedback instead of physical feedback allows you to change the amount of feedback the button gives you upon being pressed. You can choose from 3 different feedback intensities, one being subtle and three being intense. I personally keep it on two which gives a natural and not overpowering feel to the button, but it is of course personal preference so you would need to mess around with yours on the different intensities to see which one you like more.

iPhone 7 lightning port

The Lightning port

The lack of headphone jack on the iPhone 7 means that the Lightning port has become more important than ever. Apple, however has not added anything new to the iPhone 7 to take the pain off this removal. No wireless charging, no dual Lightning ports. However, instead, Apple is pushing wireless headphones. This is not ideal since their solution (the Apple AirPods) is very costly and not friendly to everyone. Not everyone can afford to pay out big bucks for Apple’s solution to not having a headphone jack.

I have resorted to carrying around the Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack dongle around with me everywhere I go and I know how annoying it is when you forget it. Maybe I will make the jump to some wireless headphones in the near future or maybe I will make the jump to some lightning headphones once they start getting produced.

Performance

As with any Apple product, the iPhone 7 is superbly fast. I have yet to encounter a stutter with the phone. This does not mean however that it doesn’t crash. I have had it crash 2 or 3 times before on me which is inconvenient but not that bad.

In day to day use the iPhone 7 handles anything you throw at it with laughable ease. Multi-tasking, gaming, video viewing and everything else are butter smooth. The phone is so fast that you can actually stop an app from closing by pressing the home button fast enough. That is impressive. Animations on the iPhone 7 are crisp and fluid making for a great experience.

The iPhone 7 has Apple’s first quad core CPU of any chip to be on an iPhone. This chip is special because unlike normal quad core chips which just have 4 similar cores the iPhone 7 has two high performance cores and two low performance cores. This is a very smart move by Apple because it allows the iPhone 7 to use the low performance cores when doing normal, low intensity, activities such as web browsing and email reading and preserve power and use the high performance cores when doing something that requires a little extra juice such as gaming. These two new, low performance cores are what has allowed the iPhone 7 to achieve 2 hours more battery life than the iPhone 6S.

iPhone 7

Battery

The iPhone 7 has good battery life. It easily lasts me my normal working day of getting up at 7:30 and going to sleep at midnight. Of course my use is not intensive in the normal workday. However, over the weekend the battery life of the iPhone 7 starts to struggle with getting me through the full day. I usually find myself plugging in to charge at about 6pm to get enough juice to ensure that it lasts me the rest of the day.

However, if you are a heavy user you are not going to be buying the iPhone 7 but rather the iPhone 7 Plus which will certainly last you through the most intensive days.

I find myself getting, on average, 6 to 7 hours of usage out of the iPhone 7. On lighter days even more than 7 hours.

One thing that is really disappointing to me is how Apple still has not added in fast charging to the iPhone. Android phones have had fast charging for a few years now and it is one of the best features to be introduced onto a phone in last few years.  Having the ability to simply plug in for 10 minutes and gain a few hours of battery life is amazingly valuable. The iPhone 7 doesn’t have a very large battery which would make fast charging really good because, potentially, you could get a full charge in under a hour. I know I really miss the fast charging from my Galaxy S6 Edge.

iPhone 7 3D Touch

iOS 10

For the most part, iOS 10 has been a great experience. A fluid and easy to use operating system in general. iOS 9 was a good OS in that of itself but iOS 10 takes that to the next level. There are not a lot of major updates but there are a few major updates that the user will be able to take advantage of that I am going to cover.

Notifications

The most noticeable different between iOS 9 and 10 is the new notifications. The new notifications are now in their own bubbles and also have 3D touch interaction. This is Apples way of utilising 3D touch for more than just viewing fancy photos every now and again and quick launching apps. 3D touch is actually useful in notifications. I find myself using it daily to dismiss or perform another action (could be specific to an app) without ever entering the app. Inbox by Gmail’s notifications are the most interacted with notifications on my phone. I use 3D touch to ‘Done’ or ‘Snooze’ emails as I please and that saves me a lot of time. Possibly the quick actions from notifications is the fact that you can now have a full fleshed out conversation right within the notification and never have to leave the app (works on iMessage really well). That includes real time updates on messages, images and etc. There are a few things that do not show in this chat window and the most noticeable one is the lack there of the typing indicators.

I have noticed a lot of bugs with the new notifications over the last two months, with the worse bug being the fact that sometimes you cannot even tap on the notification. I found that I had to force touch on the notification then tap on the force touched notification just to get to the app. Not very refined. There is a lot refinement that Apple can do for the next biggest release of iOS.

Widgets

iPhone 7 widgetsWidgets are now a thing in iOS 10. Yes, they are not like what they are in Android but they are there. Widgets are now present in the swipe right from the home screen and the notifications screen. This screen shows the widgets that you enable. The widgets are part of the apps you download. Some apps have widgets whilst others do not. The usefulness in these widgets can differ. I find myself always taking a glance at the weather widget to get an update on the weather but I don’t often catch myself looking at other widgets. Seldom may I use the favourites widget to make a call to one of my favourite contacts.

iMessage

Quite possibly the biggest changes to iOS 10 come to iMessage. With the likes of Snapchat and WhatsApp dominating the market, Apple took some matters into their own hands to ensure that iMessage stayed competitive against if not atop the competition. The changes that were made spruced up iMessage to ensure that users had a variety of options in terms of messaging and interaction. One change to iMessage is the fact that you can now give messages different effects. Effects include fireworks and balloons to help celebrate a certain time, loudness of messages which allow you to further express your feelings through how bouncy your message is (something that Google showed off with Allo with shouting being a large message and whispering being a small message), stickers that can be downloaded off the dedicated appstore for iMessage, and finally message reactions which allow you to react to a message by choosing your reaction and having it appear on top of the message, highlighting your feeling.

As much as all of these features are cool, they are not really useful. I have not found myself to ever need to use them. Yes, on the first day I was going mad with them because I was exploring it but ever since then? Never use them. They just seem like too much of a hassle and seem to take away the joy of conversing with someone. I’d much rather tell someone that something was funny than have a little ‘Haha’ icon appear above their message. Just seems a bit dead to me. In terms of the loudness of messages, will probably never use it and don’t really see a use for them. There is a feature that allows you to send a message that has “invisible ink” iPhone 7 pop up chaton it. This means that the receiver cannot actually view the message (be it text or image) without scrubbing out this “invisible ink.” Is this something that was really needed? Not really no.

I found myself using the popup chat window a lot because of how convenient it is. No need to jump into the app to have a conversation, simply do it from the popup window. Of course some of the features are missed but that is because it is a popup window. I have also noticed a few bugs over the last months. Duplicate messages, crashes, and performance issues. But these can be fixed in a future iOS update and I am certainly looking forward to seeing where Apple goes with this feature.

The other features in iMessage I hardly ever use. Mainly because they don’t really add anything valuable to the conversation. Maybe if its someones birthday yes, send them some balloons. But that’s it really. Nothing more to use the effects for. They’re a one time thing and unnecessary.

Siri

Siri also got an upgrade. Third party apps now have the ability to integrate with Siri and allow her to perform things for you. For example, you can call an Uber directly from Siri. You simply ask for an Uber and respond to what she has to say. Easy. Plenty of other apps also integrate with Siri and more shall integrate with her in due time. For the time being a few apps have integrated their functions in with Siri. This is a step in the right direction for Apple, opening up Siri for developers to take advantage of. This is something that even Google has not done yet.

Over the last two months I haven’t really used Siri that much. That could be because i’m not a big fan of how voice assistants work as of right now (topic for another time) but whenever I did try to use Siri it wouldn’t understand what I was saying very well and other times it would simply not give me what I was asking for so I just felt like I was wasting my time with it. Siri is a great idea that requires more work. Things such as context are really important and when Apple introduces contextual understanding into Siri maybe I will use it more. As of right now? I think I’ll pass.

Camera

The iPhone is known for having one of the best camera’s on any smartphone, each year; every year. Is the camera on the iPhone 7 any different? no. The camera on the iPhone 7 is phenomenal. The camera on the iPhone 7 allows you to simply point the camera, snap a photo and have a result that is outstanding. That goes both for photos and videos. Now being able to shoot 4K video and having OIS to stabilise that crisp footage allows the iPhone 7 to finally compete with high end Andoid phones in the video department.

The photos look great. Looking close to life. That means no over sharpening, no overexposure, no blown out highlights or anything. Everything just works. You cant really talk about something that can only be expressed through visuals so here are plenty of shots all taken from the iPhone 7 with some low light photos thrown in there so you can see how the camera performs in low light.

 iPhone 7 tube shot iPhone 7 underground shot iPhone 7 windmill shot iPhone 7 outside low light iPhone 7 inside office shot iPhone 7 office shot iPhone 7 gym shot

Overall the photos taken by the iPhone 7 are great as they are. Simply point and shoot and you get a good result. A little editing on the photos can make them pop even more and help you enhance your results, but that is a given. I would say that the iPhone 7’s camera is up along with the best cameras of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the Google Pixel.

Conclusion

All in all the iPhone 7 is a great phone. Stunning performance, great camera, great design, good display and etc. However, there are a few things you need to consider before picking one up. Can you live without the headphone jack? Do you see yourself charging your phone and plugging in to listen to music a lot? If so then the iPhone 7 is not for you. Are you a heavy user? The iPhone 7 isn’t going to last you through the day, take a look at the iPhone 7 Plus instead. Can you manage with iOS 10’s ups and downs? The fact that there are not a lot of customisation options may deter people from iOS, or the fact that there are a lot of options missing from the phone that are present on Android phones can be quite annoying for people hoping to pick one up coming from an Android phone. If you’re not coming from an Android phone but rather an iPhone you have to weight the odds of whether or not the iPhone 7 is worth the upgrade or not. If you are coming from an iPhone 6S or maybe even 6 then the upgrade is not that impressive and I would suggest you waiting for the next generation iPhone (s) to come out before upgrading. However, If you’re coming from something older than an iPhone 6 then the upgrade is definitely worth it and I would recommend you make the leap.

Positives

• Excellent performance
• Great user experience
• Functional design
• Good battery
• Great camera

Negatives

• No fast charging
• Susceptible to cracking
• No headphone jack

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Performance
9.5
9.1
Durability
7.5
9.0
Design
8.0
8.3
Software
8.5
8.9
Ecosystem
9.0
9.5
Camera
9.5
8.6
Battery
8.0
7.7
Display
8.0
8.9
Bottom Line

The iPhone 7 pairs great hardware with great software to create an experience that is definitely worth the money. However, you must weight in the odds to see whether or not its flaws are something you could live with.

8.5
Our Rating
8.8
User Rating
5 ratings
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About The Author
Rassoul Edji
I write about the ever changing world of tech so that you are up to date as to what is happening in it.