iPhone 7 Review - One Week Later
September 23, 2016 — by Per Christensson
Waking up at 1:55 AM CDT on September 9 was worth it. I was able to access the online Apple Store at 2:09 AM and was one of the first people to order the new iPhone, with a delivery date of September 16. A few minutes of clicking refresh is better than waiting several hours in line at a physical Apple Store IMO.
I ordered the 256 GB Jet Black iPhone 7 for AT&T. The purchase and financing options were confusing, but I ended up choosing the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program, which includes AppleCare+ and an option to upgrade in 12 months. It was only $5 more per month than the other options, so I figured it was worth it.
The iPhone 7's design is striking in the sense it is strikingly similar to the iPhone 6. It is the exact same size as the iPhone 6 and 6s and all the buttons are in the same places. That means an iPhone 6 case should fit, right? Nope, the camera lens on the back has been moved and is shaped differently so most old cases won't work. Wa wa...
Even though the iPhone has the exact same shape, it feels better in my hand than the 6 because of the all-glass enclosure. It has significantly better grip, which means a case may not be necessary. (IMO, iPhone cases are best at preventing drops rather than saving the iPhone when they happen.) Still, the phone slides like crazy on any smooth surface, so I'll probably still get a case for mine. If I do use a case, I think I'll get one that allows the color to show through it since I really like the jet black finish. The entire phone is completely black (except for the flash), which for some reason makes me happy.
Finally, the iPhone 7 is Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529. That of course means it is water and dust resistant. About time Apple.
I'm one of those people who uses the speakers in my iPhone a lot. Not for phone calls, but for playing music and watching StarCraft 2 replays. I was excited about the second speaker in the iPhone 7, but I found it underwhelming. The overall sound isn't much louder than the 6 and it has too much treble. I switched the EQ from the Rock setting (which I used on my old iPhone) to the Jazz setting, which fits this model much better. Even so, it sounds like the signal has that Sony Xpand effect, which makes some things sound better and other things sound way too hollow. I really wish Apple would include a graphic equalizer for the overall sound output, but maybe that is too much to ask.
▶ A quick note about the two speakers. It will sound weird if you listen to stereo sound from the iPhone's external speakers while holding it vertically. This is because the left and right channels are meant to be side by side, not stacked on top of each other.
Regarding the headphone jack, there is none. Get over it. Apple includes an adapter for 3.5mm audio connectors and additional ones are only $9.00.
The headset that comes with the iPhone 7 of course uses the Lightning connector, which is the only connector on the phone. The Lightning headphones sound absolutely amazing. The 100% digital connection is noticeably clearer and the frequency response seems flatter (which is a good thing). Bundled earbuds should not sound this good. But they do.
The iPhone 7's processor is several times faster than the iPhone 6 and the graphics performance is supposedly 240x faster than the original iPhone. The real-world performance does not feel that extreme, but it is fast. Everything feels more responsive on the 7 compared to the 6. The Touch ID response is so fast, it feels instantaneous.
While I didn't perform any scientific benchmarks, I did run one important test. I timed how long it took Pokémon Go to load when it was not already running. The Pokémon Go loading times for each phone are below.
- iPhone 6: 32.75 seconds to get to loading screen, 12.22 seconds to load = 45.97 seconds
- iPhone 7: 12.04 seconds to get to loading screen, 3.46 seconds to load = 15.51 seconds
I also have not run any scientific tests with the iPhone 7 battery. However, over the past week I've used the phone more than usual and I have yet to use up more than half a charge in a full day. That is a good sign.
Apple always hypes up the new iPhone cameras. And the improvements are always modest. The same holds true for this model. However, the iPhone 7 has optical image stabilization, which is awesome. It makes photos less blurry, especially in low light. I've taken a few photos at night and they all look really good. But the real test is to let my dad use it in low light and see if he can get a clear photo.
Another camera-related improvement is the resolution of the front, or "FaceTime," camera. It is now 7 megapixels and can record 1080p video. That means the front camera is finally suitable for selfies.
- 256 GB version available
- All-glass enclosure
- Optical image stabilization
- Water resitant
- Amazing headphone sound
- External speakers not as good as expected
- Slippery on hard surfaces
- No headphone jack
Nobody expected the iPhone 7 to be groundbreaking. But it is a pretty impressive upgrade. Apple added just about everything I wanted in a new model — water resistance, 256 GB storage, longer battery life, and a higher resolution front camera.
I don't think the 7 is a necessary upgrade if you have an iPhone 6s or even a 6, but if you decide to get one, I think you'll like it. After all, it's an iPhone.