IN THE HISTORY of iPhone releases there are those that will be remembered, and those that make an altogether smaller splash. We’re inclined to think that Apple’s latest duo, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, fall into the latter category.
We are treated to a faster A10 processor, waterproofing, dual-lens cameras, and a new way to listen to audio. But when put side-by-side, just how different are Apple’s new handsets for 2016?
iPhone 7: 138x67x7.1mm, 138g, IP67 certification
iPhone 7 Plus: 158.2×77.9×7.3mm, 188g, IP67 certification
The iPhone 7 Plus measures 158x78x7.3mm and weighs 188g. In comparison, the iPhone 7 is a slip of a thing at 138x67x 7.1mm and 138g.
Style-wise not a lot has changed since last year’s models. We now have built-in stereo speakers, and the unsightly antenna bands last seen on the 6S and 6S Plus have been moved to the top and bottom of the device.
Both smartphones use Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. Classically this has been reserved for charging and data, but the much-publicised removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack means that the iPhone 7 uses it for audio too.
Frustratingly you don’t get Apple’s much-touted AirPods in the box. Instead both new handsets come with a pair of wired EarPods, which won’t take advantage of Apple’s new W1 chip for instant wireless connectivity. Innovation comes at a price, however, and we’re not talking the AirPods’ crushing £159 asking price but the paltry five hours of battery life they hold.
A wireless charging pouch will provide around 3 hours of extra life with a 15 minute charge, which is perhaps less frustrating than not being able to listen and charge when using the EarPods. That’s a pretty fatal design flaw, don’t you think?
Thankfully Apple hasn’t lost all its marbles, as each handset comes with an adaptor that will let you hang onto your beloved analogue cans.
The iPhone 7 makes history as the first Apple handset to be awarded IP67 certification. We’d have preferred IP68, but this added toughness means that the new phones are at least protected from dust and can survive in water up to a depth of 1m for 30 minutes.
Moving on to colours. Gone is the classic Space Grey of old, and in comes new Black and glossy Jet Black options. Don’t worry, there’s still Gold, Rose Gold and Silver, but you’ll be able to get Jet Black only in 128GB and 256GB configurations.
iPhone 7: 4.7in 1334×750 resolution at 326ppi
iPhone 7 Plus: 5.5in 1920×1080 at 401ppi
Plus by name, plus by nature. The larger handset has the bigger screen at 5.5in compared with the iPhone 7’s 4.7in. Resolutions and ppi count differ too, resulting in the iPhone 7 Plus employing a Full HD panel that provides sharper visuals.
Apple has said that the iPhone 7 screen is 25 per cent brighter than on the 6S. Both offer 625 cd/m2 maximum brightness and a wide colour gamut.
iPhone 7: iOS 10
iPhone 7 Plus: iOS 10
Apple designed iOS 10 with the iPhone 7 in mind. The OS brings new features such as lock screen widgets, revamped Messaging, Maps, Photos, Apple Music and News apps, and support for Siri in third-party apps.
The Plus is also expected to receive an update that builds on existing camera functionality.
iPhone 7: Apple A10 Fusion chip, quad-core 2.23GHz, 2GB of RAM
iPhone 7 Plus: Apple A10 Fusion chip, quad-core 2.23GHz, 2GB of RAM
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are powered by Apple’s new A10 Fusion processor. During the announcement Apple made some pretty lofty claims about its being the fastest smartphone chip available thanks to two “high performance” cores.
It is thought that the A10 provides a 40 per cent performance boost over the A9 chip before it. The A10 also incorporates a new controller that is said to intelligently manage workloads and lead to increased efficiency. The new GPU boosts things further. Stats show it’s capable of delivering a performance increase of 50 per cent compared with the previous generation.
In addition, to #headphonegate, Apple’s redesigned home button scored some column inches of its own. Starting with the iPhone 7, a new taptic (haptic feedback) engine underpins the home button. The new design manages to cram in functions like Siri, multi-tasking, Touch ID and Apple Pay, so the iPhone 7 feels more responsive despite losing the button style of old.
In terms of connectivity, both models support Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards, LTE up to 450Mbps and Apple Pay.
iPhone 7: 12MP rear-facing, f/1.8, OIS, 7MP front-facing
iPhone 7 Plus: Dual 12MP rear, f/1.8 and f/2.8, OIS, 7MP front
Aside from the obvious physical differences, the two handsets are poles apart when it comes to optics.
The iPhone 7 Plus augments the iPhone 7’s single 12MP rear-facing snapper with a secondary 12MP telephoto lens. The two are used in tandem to deliver 2x optical and 10x digital zoom. The aperture is smaller than the standard wide-angle lens at f/2.8. A future update will also see Apple add support for depth of field to allow the iPhone 7 Plus to add bokeh effects to images.
It’s not just the Plus that benefits from this wide-angle lens. Both handsets have been upgraded to an improved six-element model that delivers a wider f/1.8 aperture. It’s worth noting that digital zoom on the iPhone 7 is limited to 5x.
The iPhone 7 improves on the Dual LED (dual-tone) flash found on the iPhone 6. The Quad LED flash is 50 per cent brighter than that seen on the iPhone 6S, and optical image stabilisation is supported across the board. There’s a far superior 7MP camera on the front that offers image stabilisation too.
We can’t wait to get our hands on the duo to really see what they can achieve.
iPhone 7: 1,960mAh
iPhone 7 Plus: 2,900mAh
The iPhone 7 Plus battery is the largest in an Apple mobile device to date. The A10 Fusion processor should provide an hour’s extra life over last year’s 6S Plus, and Apple quotes a total talk time of 21 hours.
When it comes to the smaller iPhone 7, again Apple hasn’t given exact specifications but claimed that the iPhone 7 battery provides 14 hours of life. You’ll need to wait until the full review(s) to see how this translates to day-to-day use.
iPhone 7: 32GB/128GB/256GB
iPhone 7 Plus: 32GB/128GB/256GB
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus ship with a choice of 32GB, 128GB and 256GB storage configurations. Gone are the 16GB and 64GB models of old.
The iPhone 7 starts at £599 for the 32GB model. From there the prices go up in £100 increments to £699 for 128GB and £799 for 256GB.
You’ll need to pay a heavy premium to get your hands on even the lowliest iPhone 7 Plus. The 32GB model is £719, the 128GB £819 and the 256GB £919.
The iPhone 7 Plus is certainly not for everyone. Those with small or even average-sized hands might find the larger dimensions just too cumbersome for everyday use. It does have a beefier battery and cool dual-camera trickery, but we can’t help wondering whether these additions justify the eye-watering price.
If you’re desperate to upgrade your existing iPhone and don’t want to wait until this time next year, the iPhone 7 is the wiser investment of the two. µ
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