In the run up to the iPhone 7 launch, rumor mills had suggested that the new iPhones would be boring. They would look and feel the same as the iPhones launched two years ago, the camera bump would be retained and to top it all, they won’t even have a headphone jack! As is the case with the pre-iPhone launch news cycle, Apple was supposed to be doomed, the company had lost its Steve Jobs’ era mojo and it was a one-trick pony that had forgotten the only trick it knew. Also Read - iPhone 13 launch date and more details tipped as part of new leaks
I have been using the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for the last couple of days and the two smartphones feel familiar yet new in many ways. Yes, they look the same but there’s more than enough happening below and above the hood to make them worthy upgrades. Here are my seven observations about the new iPhones that impressed me. Also Read - iPhone 12 Mini reaches end of production already, say rumours
1. Design: I didn’t think the removal of the antenna lines from the rear panel would make a big difference, but it does, especially for someone who does not like to use the iPhone with a case or with a clear case. The difference is pronounced in the new black and jet black finishes, where the antenna lines almost become invisible. The metallic body now somewhat rises up to meet the camera lens and it feels more elegant and polished. Talking about polish, the jet black finish is extraordinary. The polished aluminum finish of the back panel and the front glass merge together seamlessly, which gives an altogether different feel to the device. Having said that, the jet black finish is a fingerprint magnet and also has a tendency to pick up scratches, so it certainly isn’t one for those who are obsessed with keeping their phones spotless. Also Read - Flipkart Mobiles Bonanza sale top deals: iPhone SE, Poco X3 Pro and more on discount
2. Display: The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus have the same display size and resolution, yet they are very different from the iPhones they replace. The difference is imminent as soon as you power on the device. The display of my older iPhone 6s Plus pales in front of the iPhone 7 Plus. It is definitely brighter and is also able to show wider colors. Apple says the new display is able to handle a wider color gamut and is the same as cinema standard. I assumed that would apply only on photos and videos shot in that color standard but that does not seem to be the case and almost everything looks more vibrant.
3. Home button: The iPhone 7 does not have a physical home button. Instead it is a capacitive circular strip that combines the fingerprint sensor and the home button that does not click. However, there is a big taptic engine that imitates the feedback of a click. It takes time getting used to and embarrassing as it may sound, for the first 15 minutes or so, I could not figure out how much pressure do I have to press it to get to the passcode screen on the lockscreen (this was before I configured Touch ID). Thankfully, it took another hour to get used to and now I am comfortable with using it. There are three customizable settings for the home button and the trick is finding the right one. For me, it was the middle setting that worked perfectly. The side effect of the new home button is that now I find it difficult to use the click-able home button on the iPhone 6s Plus.
4. Speakers: It might not seem to be a big deal but the iPhone now has stereo speakers. There is one at its usual place on the bottom edge and another on top of the display along with the earpiece. The duo might not be as powerful as HTC’s BoomSound but they do make a significant difference, especially while watching video content or while taking calls on the speakerphone. I am not sure whether there have been any changes in the earpiece as well but calls do sound clearer on the iPhone 7 Plus.
5. Taptic Engine: Many of you won’t even realize it but the larger Taptic Engine in the iPhone 7 makes a big difference. Be it the vibration when the phone rings, to the feedback you get while scrolling through hours and minutes dial while setting up the alarm to some games that use the Taptic Engine.
6. Cameras: This is probably the biggest change in the new iPhones. The smaller iPhone 7 now gets OIS, which was missing from the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. There is a new f/1.8 12-megapixel sensor that is also capable of shooting photos in wide color capture. So far, the difference has been negligible with the iPhone 6 but I am yet to try it out in low light conditions, where it is supposed to shine. The iPhone 7 Plus gets that sensor along with another 12-megapixel 56mm telephoto camera that offers 2X optical zoom, which I found handy. However, the biggest feature addition will be the portrait mode that offers DSLR-like bokeh mode. The feature is currently a part of iOS 10.1 beta and would be released in a stable update soon. I will be following up with a detailed post on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus’ camera capabilities soon. Stay tuned.
7. No headphone jack: This has been a matter of extreme debate and initially I thought it won’t make a difference. But unfortunately, it does. Especially for someone like me, who is constantly on the move. Yes, the new EarPods come with Lightning adapter but I carry at least two phones at any given time and usually travel with an iPad and a laptop. I am already finding it cumbersome to carry two pairs of headphones. Yes, Apple gives a 3.5mm audio to Lightning connector with the box, but you need to ensure you have it with you at all times. This is quite a bummer.
These are just some of my first impressions of using the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for slightly more than 48 hours. There is a lot more coming. Stay tuned.
Photos: Abhishek Maythla