As you know if you have been reading my stuff for a while I was on the fence about whether to update to the new iPhone or not but I caved in and wanted to share my thoughts.
Which model did I get?
I picked up the iPhone 7 (4.7”) in Jet Black.
I didn’t pre-order via Apple but picked it up from John Lewis. They had a small allocation of stock to sell and I found a glitch via MacRumours that if you bought the phone with a case it would allow you to buy now rather than wait until the following morning when orders took place. This wasn’t exactly fair of them but many took advantage of the loophole to get them. I wanted to get one to review for you guys and a few freelance posts to work on so I went for it.
A little different, no headphone carrying case, a black box for this model and different plastic wrapping around the box. Inside we see the usual stickers and a new lightning -> 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor - something I didn’t think Apple would include but glad they did.
First thing I noticed getting it out of the box was the hard home button, it’s still recessed but doesn’t click as previous models do. It was strange to start with but once setup via the initial iPhone setup I got used to it pretty quickly.
I’ve found two things out
- I use my nail to trigger the home button more than I realised, it doesn’t do anything when you do it on the iPhone 7 this way
- I’m adjusting to using 3D Touch to multitask more than I did before rather than double clicking the home button
After a few days I’m totally fine with the new home button.
I’m surprised at how much better it is having two speakers, I listen to podcasts via them a lot and any improvement is nice to see. I wouldn’t say I’m seeing benefit from them being stereo but being louder is great.
I take a lot of photos with my iPhone but have a nice DSLR (CANON 70D for those wondering) that I take with me on day trips - I take it almost everywhere with me. This led me to the decision that I wasn’t particularly bothered about the dual lens on the Plus model. I experienced some RSI problems when I last used a larger phone and feel that the 4.7” is the perfect size (for me).
Here are my observations using the iPhone 7 camera over the last few days
- Focus is faster
- Images in good light aren’t a massive step up from the iPhone 6s
- Images indoors are around 20% better than shot with the 6s
- Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) has helped with macro photography
I’m glad I have a better camera but it’s certainly not a massive step up from previous models. It’s better than the 6 but not massively different to the 6s. The OIS is making a difference to low light and close up but unless this is important don’t upgrade just for the camera.
The first place I have seen a big difference from previous models. The 7 has a wide colour gamut that means (with my eyes at least)
- Colours look more life like
- Colours are richer, especially reds - comparing a 6s and 7 side by side is the only way to see this change unless you have a 5K iMac
- Generally the screen is a nicer experience and feels easier on the eyes
If you are a pro photographer then the new screens might be enough to warrant an upgrade, they really do make a difference to the photos you are looking at.
Losing the headphone jack
I didn’t get why Apple removed this before the announcement and even now although I accept it’s gone I don’t fully understand it. It wasn’t well explained at the keynote (courage??) and although I get that they had more space to give us better battery etc… I can’t seem to explain it to people when they ask me.
In my experience the only time it’s causing me problems is when I want to charge and use my iPhone at the same time. I use the boxed lightning EarPods and for me they fit fine and are comfortable. If I want to use my BOSE in ear or AUDIO-TECHNICA I just use the adaptor. To be honest I’ve only done this once to test, I’ve been ok with the packaged ones.
I do have a pair of wireless headphones (LG INFINIM) and it’s been fine, I have them with me when I want to charge and use them or if I’m doing stuff around the house where I don’t want the cable on a wired set getting snagged.
I am on board with trying out the AirPods when they become available and will be grabbing a pair for testing as soon as I can. If they don’t turn out to be that great then I will look at the beats.
If you are on a 6S then I’d wait as the inconvenience of losing the jack isn’t outweighed by features on this model.
Jet black finish
Without doubt my favourite feature of the new iPhone. I always loved the back design of the 3G and this replicates that finish pretty much exactly. If you have access to a 3G/S then pick it up for a bit, that’s what the Jet Black feels like. It’s comfortable, grips in the hand and for someone that doesn’t use a case perfect.
Yes, it will pick up scratches the same way the 3G did but personally I like that worn in finish. Nothing stays perfect in this world, there is more that demands worry than what your devices look like. I do totally understand reasons for using cases and taking care of your devices for resale but I enjoy the devices as they are. I transferred my Apple Care + from my previous 6s to this new one and now that screen replacements are less than £30 I am ok with taking my chance.
After 3 days of use I have a few tiny scratches on the back but again I am fine with this.
If you are going to worry about the finish of your iPhone then 100% avoid this finish, even in a case it’s going to show marks over time.
If you miss your 3G/S and want a phone that’s a delight to use as Jony intended then get this finish.
First off even though the 6s was slightly waterproof I lost one in a sink, 2 second dunk and it died. I haven’t tested the 7 in water but given it’s new waterproof rating I am comfortable that I can leave it by the side of me when I’m shaving or doing the washing up.
Should you upgrade?
Depends on what your current model is, this isn’t a must have update but
- 5S and less then definitely a good upgrade
- 6, will depend on if you aren’t satisfied with the camera. The 7 is a nice upgrade from a 6
- 6S, I’d say no. There aren’t enough changes to warrant an upgrade from a 6s unless you like to have the latest and greatest or on the upgrade programme
So, the camera isn’t a big upgrade from the 6s and losing the headphone jack is an inconvenience - does this mean I am unhappy with my purchase?
Nope I’m really liking the iPhone 7 - the two features that make me glad I upgraded are
- Jet Black Finish, makes it grippy to use and harks back to the good old 3G days, in fact it’s the best in hand feel that I’ve used on any iPhone
- The screen is vibrant and colour rich, a definite improvement from previous models
Things I haven’t really seen an improvement over the 6s in
- Day to day performance, I don’t edit 4K but aside from slight improvements in multitasking I don’t really see a big improvement
- Camera, I have seen some differences but I feel that these are mostly what I’m seeing on the 7 wide colour gamut screen rather than a step up in camera performance
My final advice is if you are on the fence and can’t make up your mind then wait for next year. I feel strongly that this model is setting the tone for next year and if you can hold out for another year if you are on a 6s or 6, then wait. If you are on an older model then it’s a no brainer upgrade, do it.