Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review - Lucky number?

Apple's shiny new iPhone 7 was launched with the full force of iOS 10 and is one of the most hotly anticipated smartphones this year. But has much really changed since the launch of the iPhone 6S?

 Apple iPhone 7 Review - Lucky number?
4.5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,9/21/2016 2:18:34 PM

9

out of 10

Performance

10

out of 5

Look and feel

10

out of 5

Ease of use

9

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Water resistant | Stunning design | iOS 10 fantastic | improved camera

Cons:

Need an adapter to use wired headphones | form factor seems very jaded

- By Sunetra Chakravarti

Months of speculations, leaks, and breathless anticipation led to the unveiling of the Apple iPhone 7 and came as it did on the heels of the Samsung Note 7 debacle, not even Apple would have anticipated the rush of customers.

Although the iPhone 7 Plus sold more and sold out on the day it landed, the more petite version hasn't done too badly either... So, what REALLY has changed?

Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review: Look and feel

Place the iPhone 7 next to the iPhone 6 or 6S and there is literally no difference. Button and slider placements, camera and lens, even down to the antenna lines on the side. The one tiny difference visually is that the pair of antenna lines across the back have now slipped down to run along the edges and the fact that there is no 3.5mm headphone jack to plug your wired headsets into, just some spare speaker grills.

There are two new colour versions to get excited about. There is the matt black and super-glossy jet black. I remember, back when Apple launched the first iPhone, it was an all-glass number and had that one colour option before everyone started clamouring for the white... Apple always knew how to do a proper immersive shade of black and they have swept customers off their feet again with the two options of the colour that screams classy like nothing else can. Needless to add, they have both been out of stock since they went on sale- across all retailers.

APPLE IPHONE 7 PLUS IN-DEPTH REVIEW

Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review: Performance

One of the best things about the 7 duo is the fact that both are water resistant. For me, performance isnt just about how the phone performs tasks but also to do with how it does in a variety of conditions. Up until now Apple's phones have not just been fragile, (remember 'bendgate'), requiring a plethora of ruggedised covers etc but also been behind on the development curve with phones that keel over at the slightest contact with water. Joining the fabulous Note 7 and Sony's Xperia XZ, Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now IP67 rated so they will be absolutely fine in upto a meter of water for less than 30 minutes. Still not okay to take it snorkelling but a big leap for Apple devices none the less.

The new chip that Apple is shouting itself hoarse about is not straggler. The new A10 fusion chip is faster and more efficient and both the phones have the same chip onboard leading to not just a non-laggy and stuttery experience when gaming but also better battery saving features.

During the time I used the 7, I had no problems with hour-long FaceTime calls, long stints of Sonic Dash and recording 4K video. 

Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review: Ease of use

Two years back with the iPhone 6 came out, it was considered a palmful. The 5 and 5s had been more petite and the 6 fell firmly into the phablet category. However, the smartphone industry has moved swiftly forward from there. Moto Z, Sony XZ, Note 7 and LG G5 are all not only bigger but also wider. So the iPhone 7 seems almost the right size and I am quite relieved that it isn't any bigger than what it is now.

Ease of use also refers to what benefits you get from the phone and one of the biggest one ups of the phone is that it features LTE Advanced. This means as and when you rnetwork switches up to faster internet speeds, with the iPhone 7 you can be rest assured that your phone will be the fastest on the same network as, say, an iPhone 6 or 6s.

With speeds up to 450 Mbps for data downloads, the iphone 7 is almost 50 percent faster than iPhone 6s and three times faster than iPhone 6. Not only that, but you will get better audio quality when you have conversations using Voice over LTE — either on Whatsapp or Facebook when out and about.

You also get wi-fi calling which makes FaceTime and its ilk like Duo and Skype easier and drop-free.

Not sure whether the fact that the phone does not have a 3.5mm headphone jack should go here but for me it  has gotten rid of a major hassle for me. Tangled headphone wires have always been a headache and I am frankly quite happy with the shift to wireless ones. I have used wireless headphones for some time now and the fact that the iPhone 7 negates the need for wired ones adds to its ease of use.

 BEST WIRELESS HEADPHONES

Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review: Features

iOS 10 takes the idea of human communication further by not just making it richer but also bigging up the elements that we use daily and need the most.

iOS 10: TOP FEATURES

So you are able to send hand-scrawled notes in messages, emojis are bigger, the Home hub allows you to sync all your devices to work seamlessly.

Swipe right and you have an area reminiscent of HTC's Blinkfeed poulated with your upcoming appointments, news, maps and anything you might generally look for, like the weather.

Word searches work on photos so type in a location, name of an animal or even 'kiln' or 'aga' to be given a choice of options that are startlingly accurate.

But the crowning glory of iOS is iCloud and the way it can seamlessly transfer and share all your bookmarks, documents and apps across all your devices but also keychain so you are not tempted to set up easy passwords but use Safari suggested foolproof ones that are biometrically and password protected across all your devices.

Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review: Battery

 During a video running test, the iPhone 7 lost 10 percent of charge when I streamed HD content off YouTube over 4G for 30 minutes. This isn't terrible but anyone who has ever owned an iPhone will be fully trained n how a fully loaded battery charging pack in your bag is part of the game. 

Agreed that the 1960mAH battery is probably the smallest on ANY smartphone costing over £250 but Apple's new A10 fusion chip has cores designed to improve efficiency, including those of the battery and should work okay but in all honesty cannot compete with the best that Samsung has to offer or Sony's XZ with its 'two-day battery'.

Take a look at the mid-range market and the delightful Honor 8 and OnePlus 3, both these phones come with 3,000mAH batteries as well as the might of Android M's battery saving Doze feature. And I am not even talking about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 or Galaxy S7 Edge with their 3600mAH batteries.

Apple don't even say exactly what the battery size is on their website and that is testament to the fact that if you really want the latest iPhone, the diabolical battery life will not concern you...much. 

As per usual, iPhone 7 had lost 50 percent of its battery life by 1pm, which is in the same ballpark as the iPhone 6.

Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review: Camera

 While it is really the iPhone 7 Plus that steals the camera crown in the tussle between the two, the iPhone 7 isn't terrible either. There is a 12-MP sensor on the primary snapper and a 7-MP selfie camera. 

APPLE IPHONE 7 PLUS IN-DEPTH REVIEW

While things are largely unchanged from how the camera was on the iPhone 6S, Apple have made a lot of tweaks under the hood so that low-light photos are a lot brighter and richer in detail than they have been previously.

This does not mean that it can now compete with the Samsung S7 edge or even the Huawei P9, they are miles ahead, Apple's cameras have had that certain features that have saved the game for them time and again and that is blisteringly fast Optical Image Stabilisation and super-fast focusing.

APPLE IPHONE 6S PLUS IN-DEPTH REVIEW

 Live pictures make looking back at albums easier and as I have detailed earlier, the real smarts to the camera app are provided by iOS 10 with the search function and the 4K video recording at 30fps.

However, I would have preferred to have certain settings within the app rather than having to go into the settings area and then configure photos and camera.

Should I buy the Apple iPhone 7?

If you are after a revolutionary phone, then you will need to look elsewhere. Probably towards an Android-totting number because the iPhone 7 ain't that.

The iPhone 7 is, however, a great phone, brings several key functionalities to iOS fans and iOS 10 helps add to the sparkle. The form factor seems jaded and even though Apple have polished the existing chassis, the phone looks exactly like the iPhone 6 that released two years back.

For the first time the iPhone duo are water resistant and the 'Home' button and headphone jack are finally gone.

Having used the phone since it went on sale, I am still scratching my head about what the difference between the iPhone 7 and 6S actually are.

My recommendation would be to save yourself some cash and buy the 6S if you really want an iPhone.

Apple iPhone 7 in-depth review: specifications

Website: apple.com

Price: £599 for 32GB; £699 for 128GB; £799 for 256GB

Operating System: iOS 10

Dimensions:138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight: 138 g

Resolution: 1334x750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi

Display: 4.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen

Processor: A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture; Embedded M10 motion coprocessor

Camera: 12-MP wide-angle f/1.8 aperture; OIS; Quad-LED True Tone flash; 7-MP selfie camera with 1080p HD video recording. 4K video recording at 30 fps

Memory: 32/128/256GB. Jet black is exclusively available in 128GB and 256GB models.

Battery: 1960mAH

Fingerprint sensor: Yes

Misc: IP67; Apple Pay lets you pay with your iPhone using Touch ID in stores, within apps, and on the web; EarPods with Lightning Connector. Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black, Jet Black variants

(The handset for this review was loaned to us by Three UK)