Another Apple announcement is in the books, and with it comes the expected refresh to the iPhone lineup. The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer some notable upgrades from the previous models, though it's the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack that has been getting much of the attention.
Looking past the omission of the headphone jack for a moment, what exactly is new and noteworthy here? For starters, the iPhone 7 brings a new SoC to the table with the A10, a new design that is Apple's first foray into a "big.LITTLE" type of configuration. Unlike the A9 SoC's processor, a dual-core 1.85 GHz design, the A10 now offers a pair of high-performance cores, and a pair of high-efficiency cores that Apple says require only 1/5 of the larger pair's power. This sort of processor configuration is obviously similar to a number of existing ARM designs, which similarly combine faster and slower cores in an effort to reduce power consumption – though the 1/5 number is significant. It will be enlightening to see what the actual core speeds are – as well as particulars on the GPU, which is "50% faster" than the A9's PowerVR GT7600.
Other major updates include the cameras, which now features optical image stabilization (OIS) in the regular 7 as well as the 7 Plus (it was a 6/6s Plus-exclusive feature previously). The camera – or rather cameras – on the iPhone 7 Plus provide separate wide-angle and telephoto lenses, and allow for some powerful depth-of-field effects as demoed during the presentation. The displays contain another significant update – but not in resolution. The previous (low) 750×1344 resolution from the 6s remains in the iPhone 7, with the 7 Plus sticking to 1080×1920. The upgrade comes from the backlighting, which now provides 25% greater brightness and much wider color from the DCI P3 color space.
The lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack was rumored for months leading up to today's announcement, and of course it will be a controversial topic. The Lightning connector is the only port on the iPhone 7/7 Plus, and Lightning-connected earbuds are included along with a 3.5 mm adapter (which also includes the DAC and headphone amp). The new haptic motor for the new non-mechanical home button is partly to blame for the omission of the headphone jack, but might also have been removed as part of the process to make the iPhone water resistant – a first for Apple.
Wireless earbuds ("AirPods") were also announced, which look pretty much like the existing "EarPods" with the cord cut off. One final note on sound: the new iPhones have stereo speakers for the first time, with sound claimed to be 50% louder than previous, and now emanating from both ends of the phone.
The family of iPhones now includes the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, along with existing 6s, 6s Plus, and the iPhone SE. In a surprising move, Apple announced that they would upgrade last year's 6s models to shipping with double the base storage – 32GB vs. 16GB – for the same price.
Pre-orders for the new iPhones begin on September 9th, with pricing beginning at $649 for the 32GB iPhone 7, and $769 for the 32GB iPhone 7 Plus.