Apple iPhone 7: Should you buy it? 12 point cheat-sheet
Now that the beans have been spilled and the iPhone 7 is officially a real thing, the big question is how good it is. Is it a giant leap over the current models and is it really better than the competition? I take a close look at all these questions.
How different is the design of the iPhone 7?
In the case you hoped for a giant leap in the design of the iPhone, then you’re in for some disappointment. It is largely the same design, which Apple has further refined. In fact, the phone remains 7.1mm thick for the standard iPhone 7 model and 7.3mm thick for the iPhone 7 Plus model.
The big deal, however, is the new jet black colour. Apple is using a new process to get this blingy piano like finish on the iPhone and boy it looks gorgeous.
The other colours gold, silver and rose gold look more or less the same, but thankfully Apple has further reduced the gaudy antenna lines which now only wrap around the rounded corners of the phone. There’s also a standard matte finish black which looks quite boring.
If you hated the minor camera bump on the iPhone 6S and 6, then things only are getting worse as the iPhone 7 has a more dramatic camera bump on the back. The iPhone 7 Plus has even a bigger one because it houses two cameras on the back. But this is just a reality of the market. Camera bumps are now standard issue as smartphone manufacturers try to push the limits of what can be achieved from a smartphone camera.
Design wise, the new big thing is the Jet Black colour which will only be available to 128GB and 256GB owners.
What does water resistance mean to the user?
If you’re the type of person who drops the phone a lot into water or stay near a beach or is in a tropical rainy area, then water resistance on the iPhone 7 will be god sent. It has an IP67 rating, which allows the phone to remain submerged in 1metre of water for 30 minutes.
This by no means is a license to take out the phone for swimming, however, in India, finally you can use your iPhone during holi. Also, it will be a phone that survives a tumble into the pool when your friends decide to throw you one on your birthday.
This is a feature that has been asked for by users for a long time and finally Apple has given in. That being said, on the Galaxy S7 you get even a better IP68 rating, but in the scheme of things this is a minute difference.
How good is the camera?
The camera on the iPhone 6S was already a very good one, but Apple is taking things to the next level with the iPhone 7. Samsung for sometime has managed to usurp Apple in the photography department, but Apple should be the maker of the best camera phones with the iPhone 7.
Why? Well, on the iPhone 7 Apple is using a new 12-megapixel sensor which is bigger and it is coupled with a wider f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation, and a new 6-element lens. Compared to the 12-megapixel camera on the iPhone 6S, which has a f/2.2 aperture, this is a big improvement.
Apple is talking up the new image signal processor (ISP) which is like a micro computer on the A10 fusion processor. It claims that this ISP can do things that no high-end camera ISP can, leave alone a smartphone ISP on a competing device, which enables incredible imaging.
Moreover, there’s a new flicker detector and a new 4-LED TrueTone flash. This will more or less negate any advantage Samsung had in the imaging department with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy Note 7.
But there’s more. On the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple is using not one but two cameras 12-megapixel cameras on the back. One is the 12-megapixel wide angle 28mm camera with a f/1.8 aperture, which is also on the iPhone 7. The other is a telephoto camera which has f/2.8 aperture.
Using both cameras, a lot of artificial intelligence and the new ISP, Apple has managed to create a 2x optical zoom. Not only do you get the best photos on a smartphone using the iPhone 7 Plus camera, you can also zoom into them without fearing any kind of degradation in quality.
Apple is actually stitching both the photos from both the cameras, which also allows it to offer digitally zoomed photos up to 10x, which are 4 times clearer than standard digital zoom from any other phone. So in essence, even the artificially zoomed photos are going to look a lot more clearer.
In the coming months, Apple will also add a ‘portrait’ mode to the iPhone 7 Plus camera which will give you that shallow blurred background that you normally associate with high-end cameras. For this also, the phone is using both the cameras and a lot of intelligence on the software side of things to deliver some insane results.
Long story short, if you care about photography, you’re going to want the iPhone 7. If you’re really crazy about photography you’re going to want the iPhone 7 Plus. On paper, these are the best mobile shooters.
What about selfies?
In a nutshell, they will be great. Remember, the iPhone 6S already has possibly the best selfie camera there is amongst the flagship smartphones. The iPhone 7 does one better by offering a new 7-megapixel sensor on the front with a f/2.2 aperture, electronic stabilisation and rear camera tech like deep trench isolation.
Dump all this jargon, the big takeaway is that the upgrade is quite substantial and your selfies will look better.
How good is the screen?
Now, Apple has been laggard in the area of screen resolutions for a couple of years. But after you cross the HD resolution, gains in screen technology is throttled by the law of diminishing returns.
Instead of increasing the resolution, Apple has made the screen 25 per cent brighter and added support for TrueTone technology which it first introduced on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It is also talking about something it calls wide colour which is only available on cinema screens.
The end result should be a very good screen. Apple is always known to make great screens and this phone should be no different. At the same time, one can expect this screen to be inferior to the one on the Samsung Galaxy smartphones in terms of sheer brilliance, vividness and brightness.
However, there are some things that Apple’s display does. For instance, these phone also come with 3D Touch technology which first came last year with the iPhone 6S. iOS 10 utilises this technology in a broader way than iOS 9 on the previous phone, so the iPhone 7 should be easier and more fun to use.
Have they fixed the fragile home-button?
In the past few years, Apple’s home-button has become notorious for failures. Apple has addressed this issue head-on with the iPhone 7. Now, it is using the same force touch pressure sensitive technology which it uses in the main screen of the iPhone and trackpads on the Macs.
This means you’re not actually clicking the button, but you’re getting the illusion of a click. It is one piece which doesn’t move about which makes it better.
Additionally, as it is using the same tech as the 3D touch display, it programmable for various other tasks, which should make the iPhone 7 experience more personalised and user friendly.
How will I listen to my music?
Yes, they have indeed removed the 3.5mm jack, but fret not Apple is providing lightning enabled earphones in the package. They are also providing an converter which will allow you to use your existing headphones.The problem will come if you’re a very specific type of user who likes to charge and listen to your music at the same time. It will also be a problem if you’re particular about your headphones and want to use them across a broad range of gadgets.This will probably be a hinderance. That being said, Apple is betting big on a wireless future. It has showcased new AirPod earphones that use new Apple made chip. These will launch in India for Rs 15,400. Apple claims they offer better audio than standard wireless earphones, including even the ones from audio specialists like Bose. It is also using the same technology on its Beats brand of headphones.
Impressively, Apple has simplified the pairing process, which is cumbersome with Bluetooth. You just open the headphones from their case and if the phone is nearby, it will automatically connect with them.One of the advantages of getting rid of the headphone jack is that, now the iPhone 7 gets stereo speakers which will be twice as loud as the current models.
How is the battery life?
This is a bit of an unknown, but Apple claims it has improved it over the iPhone 6S. On the smaller iPhone 7, Apple claims up to 2 hours of extra usage, while on the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple claims an improvement of an hour. Now these aren’t massive improvements per se, and the iPhone hasn’t been a guiding light when it comes to battery life, but it should be better than the current models. Chances are it will be as good as what you get on Samsung’s phones.
How fast is it?
The iPhone 6S is already the fastest smartphone in the market. There’s no denying that fact and with the iPhone 7, Apple has just made it faster. The new A10 Fusion processor is the first quad-core processor we have seen on an iPhone. It has two high performance cores which are according to Apple 40 percent faster than the one on the iPhone 6S and twice as fast as the one on the iPhone 6S. The graphics processor is also now 50 percent faster and Apple claims that it can run console class games like F1 2016.Again, by cutting to the chase, we can conclude this will be a very very fast phone. It will probably be the fastest one around for at least a year, which can’t be said about any Android phone in the market.
How expensive is the 64GB model because 16GB doesn’t cut it anymore? Actually, there’s no 64GB or 16GB model. Apple has doubled the storage on all the SKUs. So the iPhone 7 will launch with 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models. The 32GB model will launch in India for a perfect Rs 60,000 which is Rs 2,000 cheaper than the iPhone 6S that launched with 16GB model. Apple is also doubling the memory of the existing iPhone 6S and iPhone SE models.
When is it launching in India? In the US, the phone will be launched on September 16, but Indians will not need to wait for long. It is coming to India on October 7, which is a Friday for a starting price of Rs 60,000. Apple hasn’t specified the price of the rest of the SKUs.
I am an iPhone 6S user should I upgrade? Usually I recommend people to use their phones for at least two years before an upgrade and that holds truer for the iPhone which can be considered amongst the most expensive phones around. However, if you’re crazy about photography then maybe you should make the plunge. Perhaps, maybe even for the new Jet Black colour you could buy the phone, but other than that even in the looks department it is quite similar to the older iPhone.
More or less you’re getting an iterative update. Yes, it will be faster, slicker and it will be the cool toy to have, but most of the features, you will be able to enjoy on your older iPhone 6S. The big deal is iOS 10 which will come as a free update on September 13.If you happen to be a iPhone 6 user or you’re using anything older, yes you should save up as October 7 will be the day Apple will make a dent in your bank balance.For Android users, it will be more of a question of a preference of Android over iOS. While the gap is certainly narrowing, Apple’s controlled software and hardware experience may turn out to be too limiting.