For the longest time, the iPhone comprises the majority of Apple’s revenues. It’s insane to think that there was a time where the iPhone wasn’t a thing. As time passes by, the iPhone slowly became the juggernaut that it is today. But what happens when the juggernaut suddenly stops being one? What if the changes are suddenly more user-hostile than ever? Have we been here before? We’ll see about that.
Enter the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 7 represents a transition smartphone for Apple. It’s in a weird spot, to be honest. On one hand, it presents similarities to its predecessors: the iPhone 6 and 6s. On another, it gives us a glimpse of the future of what Apple thinks a smartphone should be and what it should do. Some think that the design change is good, if not better, others go with the norm of “if it doesn’t look new, it’s NOT new”. Either way, this is an inflection point for the things to come. Despite the tradeoffs it has, is the iPhone 7 still on top of its game? Or have other phone makers like Huawei, Samsung, or even Google with its Pixel snatched that title from Apple? Here’s my full iPhone 7 Review.
Yeah yeah. I know what you’re going to say. “It just looks like my iPhone 6!” OR “It looks boring.” OR “It’s a 2-year-old design!”
To be honest, the iPhone 7 does look the same. It bears the same general design language as the iPhone 6 and 6s. Here’s the thing though. I didn’t really mind that. Sure, people around you would be asking what iPhone you have. It’s not a problem though if you have one of the two new colors: Black and Jet Black. Fortunately for me, I love both new colors.
Despite the glossiness causing it to be a fingerprint and scratch magnet, I love Jet Black. It really reminds me of the iPhone 4’s look and the sleekness of the iPhone 5. The phone really mesmerizes me in a way that the iPhone 6 doesn’t. It also helps that the glossy back can act as a mirror considering that the phone automatically wakes up when you raise the phone (more on that later).
Don’t get me wrong! if you’re the type of person who carries your phone without any form of protection, go for Black. I still think it looks sexy. Haha.
I like the look of the camera hump now compared to the 6 and 6s. It feels more like a part of the phone itself as opposed to before where it just sticks out like it’s no one’s business.
I was amazed at how Apple approached this year’s iPhone design-wise. I don’t know what would happen if they rushed the new design just for the sake of keeping the same pattern and satisfying the few tech enthusiasts. There are decisions made that would have an impact towards the many but we’ll get to that. I personally think that Apple made the right move on this one despite some backlash. (I guess people don’t seem to mind.)
This is the part where the S iPhone models usually make a case for the need to upgrade. Apple has made the iPhone 7 feel like the iPhone 6s in that aspect. Since they sat out doing a design change for the 10th generation of the iPhone, they added or improved a lot of things with the stuff inside.
As usual, Apple puts the latest and greatest hardware they can in the iPhone 7. Powering this is the latest Apple A10 Fusion chip that contains 2 powerful cores and 2 power-efficient cores that draw even less power for basic tasks. The iPhone 7 also has 2GB RAM, starts at 32GB of storage (FINALLY, Apple) and goes up to 256GB. We have reached a point where smartphones now have storage capacities as large as a laptop. This is insane!
I don’t know why I didn’t mention this sooner but the iPhone 7 is the FIRST water-resistant iPhone! Yes yes, it may be late to the game in this aspect. I’m glad it’s finally here though. I would worry less when I drop this phone compared to previous iPhones. I even brought it to the shower when I was on vacation and it’s still fine. Even though it only got the IP67 rating compared to the Galaxy S7’s IP68, it is said to fare better with water tests. Too bad I don’t have a spare iPhone 7 to do that with since I don’t want to take risks.
Another first for the iPhone is stereo speakers! They really sound so loud that I usually use it to play music in the bathroom. Yeah. It’s louder and brings a fuller sound than previous iPhones. They couldn’t even get close.
Apple also improved the screen quality in the iPhone 7. Sure it’s still the same resolution as the 6 and 6s (1334×750), but it now uses the better P3 color gamut. Recent iPhones before this only had the sRGB color gamut. What this means in layman’s terms is that the colors on the iPhone 7 screen pop better than previous iPhones and comparable to other Android phones.
I am envious of Android phones in a way that they’ve been having screens that have better resolution than what the iPhone has. For Apple’s sake, I hope that OLED rumor pans out. Despite that, I still love and appreciate the iPhone 7’s better screen. Photos and videos have never looked better.
They even changed the home button. It’s now just a flat surface that’s linked to the new Taptic Engine. It’s a vibration motor that gives haptic feedback every time you do a hard press, known as 3D Touch. If Apple decides to remove the Home button on a future iPhone, then this new Home button is a good way to start the transition.
Speaking of that Taptic Engine, it actually enables haptic feedback in system actions. Some examples are swiping down to show the Notification Center or swiping up to show Control Center. Third-party developers can also take advantage of it like those who made Alto’s Adventure. It’s a nice touch but it’ll be a while until a lot of them will use this.
That Headphone Jack Though.
Not all changes are good though. I’m sure you’ve heard everything about it since the rumors started popping up. Yes, it’s the removal of the headphone jack. Let’s talk about it.
First of all, it ultimately isn’t a dealbreaker for me. I was really worried when I first heard of the rumor. It didn’t mention anything about what headphones and speakers I could use since Apple pretty much removed any direct compatibility for every headphone I owned at the time.
Good thing they mitigated that a bit in two ways: a dongle, and a set of Lightning EarPods in the box.
The Lightning EarPods sound fine. They won’t blow you away compared to the previous EarPods but they’re fine for most cases.
The 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter, or simply the dongle, is small. It’s so small that I could potentially lose the thing if I’m not careful. It’s a good thing I only have one pair of headphones. All I need to do is just permanently attach the dongle to my headphones and it’s all good right? WRONG.
This is my beef with removing the headphone jack in the iPhone 7. It’s REALLY annoying when I have to use my headphones with my laptop! I have to remove the dongle and PRAY I DON’T LOSE IT. On top of that, I can’t listen to music while charging my phone anymore. Unless I get that multiport Lightning adapter from Belkin (which looks as annoying as it is), it’ll be another attitude adjustment for people who’ll buy this phone. Yes, I managed to adjust to it but that doesn’t make it less annoying.
Apple made a big deal about wireless audio and how it is the future. Remember those AirPods they announced?
It hasn’t come out yet and they haven’t given a new release date for it as of this writing. How do you expect me to get hooked in the future of audio if you can’t even get it out on time? (Apple has released the AirPods but most shipments are currently delayed to January.)
If you’re not ready to make this transition, then it’ll be a big dealbreaker. I was when I got the phone, and I never want to look back. (I sincerely hope that this would be the most serious part of this iPhone 7 Review.)
Phones are typically faster than most Android phones. Even an iPhone 6s is FASTER than a Galaxy Note 7. Chew on that for a second. Now, imagine a phone that Apple claims to be twice as fast as an iPhone 6s? Well, that’s an iPhone 7.
The iPhone 7 not only is fast, but it FEELS FAST. It’s been a while since I’ve used an iPhone that feels faster than previous generations. It helps that I had an iPhone 6 and not a 6s though. The usually slow animations on iOS since iOS 7 now feel faster on the iPhone 7.
If you need proof for the kind of speed you expect, check out the Phonebuff Style Speed Test between the 6s and the 7.
In my experience though, the iPhone 7 is a blast to use! Even though I used an old backup from my iPhone 6 (which actually causes more problems than not), it didn’t really have a significant impact in the speed of the device. You can even open an app and close it with the home button so fast!
I haven’t really played games that take advantage of the A10 Fusion chip. I actually like it when Apple shows off a game from an A-list developer like Epic Games. They keep showing up during iPhone keynotes just to show off the Infinity Blade games. I don’t know if they’ve shown something since then but I hope there are game developers out there that can really do some good work and use the full power of the iPhone 7. Or I should do more digging.
How’s the Battery Life?
Battery life on the iPhone 7 is around the same as when I first got the iPhone 6. It can last me a day with normal use, but that’s it. When I do use mobile data though, it’ll only last me a half day because of the better LTE Advanced technology that this phone supports. It really irks me to this day that Apple can’t bring a significantly better battery life to the standard iPhone. I don’t have say anything more because the battery life is simply my least favorite part of the phone.
There were two things I was most excited about the iPhone 7: the Jet Black color and the camera. I’ve read reviews about how the iPhone 6s camera is just better mainly due to the megapixel count. The quality didn’t quite live up to the expectations, causing Samsung to come out on top with the Galaxy S7.
The iPhone 7 has a 12 megapixel rear camera like the 6s but with an f/1.8 aperture. I think that the added resolution makes it more competitive. Megapixels aren’t everything though.
(Click on the images to check out some of the photos on Flickr!)
Does the iPhone 7’s camera fare better than the 6s, the S7 and Google’s Pixel? For the most part, yes. But the differences between them are subtle and if you’re not a photography geek then you won’t even notice.
One of the things I really noticed about the iPhone 7 camera is that it’s REALLY good at low light. Compared to the iPhone 6 I had before, the iPhone 7 can really see in the dark! This is thanks to the Optical Image Stabilization in the camera which can hold the sensor longer for those kinds of shots.
Optical Image Stabilization also helps with videos! It accounts for the movement of the camera so that you have less shaky videos. This is an overdue feature and I would have liked to have gotten this on the iPhone 6. But hey, better late than never.
I was so excited to use the iPhone 7’s front camera since I was from an iPhone 6 with a measly 1.2 megapixel front camera. Now I get to play with 7 megapixels! Yay! The shots taken from the front camera are a great improvement and now I can do more vlogs!
A new feature introduced in the iPhone 6s that I just tried now is Live Photos. The phone records a few seconds before and after a photo is taken. Personally, I think the feature was underutilized until Google came out with the Motion Stills app. Unlike 3D Touch in iOS 10, I still can’t find a legitimate use for Live Photos though. I hope I just missed the good apps for it.
What I also like about the iPhone 7 camera is how consistent the quality of the photos are. There are times when the quality is debatable but 90 times out of 100, it’s topnotch.
There was a time where Apple’s software was really topnotch. Google’s was good but it wasn’t good enough when it was new to mobile. Since then, they strengthened their mobile apps and services. They also made their own design language called Material Design that clearly considered mobile. All the while, Apple just did a major redesign of iOS with iOS 7. Don’t get me wrong, iOS is still iOS. But iOS 10 is already a far cry from iOS 7. A lot of things have been added and removed. Is iOS 10 still a great mobile operating system as Apple claims?
I will only be touching on things I like and don’t like about iOS 10 on the iPhone 7.
Things I Like About iOS 10.
What I like about iOS 10 on the iPhone 7 is the new Widgets screen that replaces the Search & Siri Suggestions screen when you swipe right from the Home screen. It also shows up when you swipe right from the lock screen and the Notification Center!
This is my first time owning an iPhone with 3D Touch. Even though it’s been a year since it’s been introduced, I still think that it doesn’t really change how I use my iPhone. It felt like a handy tool I could use if I wanted to. The only times where I found 3D Touch actions useful were pressing hard on the “X” of a notification to clear all notifications and fast switching to the previous app used.
Another new addition to the 3D Touch actions are in the Control Center. Remember those 4 buttons on the bottom? (Flashlight, Alarm, Calculator, Camera) Just hard press on each of them to get custom shortcuts. My favorite one happens to be the Flashlight. I’m always a sucker for those simple things.
In case you didn’t know, the same 3D Touch features can be found on the 6s.
The Thing I Don’t Like About iOS 10.
Good news! It’s just a nitpick! Bad news? It’s a big deal for me and it has something to do with the new Raise to Wake feature. I wish there was some way that they could further tweak that to make up for different sitting and lying positions. Besides that, I have no major qualms about it.
I can’t really talk a lot about iOS 10 since most of its features are on older iPhones as well.
The iPhone 7 to me is weird. On one hand, it’s business as usual: great design, great specs, great performance, great camera, decent battery life. It still has iOS, a good mobile operating system despite the flaws. It’s the best iPhone yet. Then again, every new iPhone is the best that Apple has ever made.
And then there’s this side of the iPhone 7 that I haven’t really experienced from an iPhone before: being a transition device. There is a reason that I put “Subtle Exploit” as a subtitle because it is a subtle exploit. If Apple is planning a major design change in the next iPhone and this was bound to happen anyway, then the transition device is needed. It doesn’t mean that it’s the right move now though. I blame Apple for giving us this expectation of getting a design change every 2 years.
The iPhone 7 is still a great smartphone. It could have been greater though. I guess they’re waiting for next year.