Introduction and Specifications
We look at the latest version of Apple’s iPhones
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are here, and while outwardly they look very similar to last year’s 6s models, there have been some significant upgrades (and a highly controversial change) to the new phones. Is there enough in this iterative update to justify an upgrade? After spending a couple of weeks using one as my primary device, I will attempt to answer this question.
While there had been rumors swirling of an all-new design featuring an OLED display, Apple appears to be holding back until next year – which just happens to be the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Considering this fact, it may just be that the iPhone 7 is something of a stop-gap for 2017. Some of the rumored elements are here, however; with the elimination of the physical home button (it's a solid-state version now) and 3.5 mm headphone jack (the latter causing much consternation). The camera on both phones is completely new as well, with a special dual-lens version exclusive to the 7 Plus.
First we'll go over the specs of these phones. As you can see, there are still some areas that are not fully known, such as the exact speed of the low-power cores in the new quad-core SoC, and the specifics about this year's GPU.
|Apple iPhone 7||Apple iPhone 7 Plus|
|Processor||Apple A10 Fusion SoC
2.34 GHz dual-core + 2x low-power cores (? MHz)
|Graphics||6-core (unknown GPU)|
|Screen||4.7-inch IPS, DCI-P3 capable||5.5-inch IPS, DCI-P3 capable|
|Cameras||Back: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, OIS
Front: 7MP, ƒ/2.2
|Back: 12MP, f /1.8, OIS
Dual-camera with 2x telephoto lens
Front: 7MP, ƒ/2.2
|Video||Video: 4K @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 60/30 fps, 720p @ 30 fps||Video: 4K @ 30 fps, 1080p @ 60/30 fps, 720p @ 30 fps|
|Wireless||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO
Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
|FDD-LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30)
TD-LTE (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
|Battery||1960 mAh||2900 mAh|
|Dimensions||138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
(5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches)
138 g (4.87 oz)
|158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
(6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches)
188 g (6.63 oz)
|Price||$649 – $849||$769 – $969|
Nearly a Decade of iPhone
The iPhone was introduced in 2007 (Image credit: Apple, via archive.org)
It’s hard to believe it’s been nine years since the original iPhone launched. Announced in January of 2007 by Steve Jobs during his keynote speech at CES, it set a standard that the rest of the industry would take some time to meet (remember, the first Android phone was over a year away at this point.) But nine years is an age in technology years, and that first version seems like an antique now. (The original iPhone specs: 3.5-inch display with 320×480 resolution, single-core ARM processor running at 412 MHz, 128 MB of system memory, 4GB/8GB storage.)
So what do we have at the 9-year mark? The iPhone 7 design is simply a further refinement of the 2015 iPhone 6s design, which in turn was based on the iPhone 6 from 2014. Apple has been updating internals the year following a new design since the second-generation of the phone, with 2008’s iPhone 3G followed by the faster 3GS in 2009, and the fully re-designed iPhone 4 in 2010 succeeded by the faster 4s in 2011. The same formula was employed with the iPhone 5/5s and most recently with the iPhone 6/6s.
Even with its nearly identical appearance there is still enough new hardware to make the iPhone 7 launch interesting. Next year's 10th anniversary should bring a lot more to the table, but there are some notable changes (yes, we will discuss the missing headphone jack!). Ultimately, the decision to purchase a new phone often comes down to timing, with upgrade eligibility and carrier financing offers frequently dictating a $649+ purchase like this. The hardest argument is going to be the upgrade from one generation to the next, with many users traditionally upgrading at a 2-year cadence (based on the standard contract lengths of old).
Is the iPhone 7 worth an upgrade from an iPhone 6s? Is it compelling enough hardware, without any obvious improvements beyond a new dual-lens camera, to keep it at or near the top of the smartphone world? Samsung may have had some recent, highly-publicized trouble with their Note 7, but the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge are very popular, and very good, alternatives to an iPhone; with the Nexus series giving way to Google's new Pixel smartphone just days ago. Pepper in a few options from LG, HTC, and let us not forget world #3 Huawei (a review of the new P9 is upcoming), and the new iPhone faces stiff competition. Let's see how it performs.