By Jessica Oaks
The iPhone 7 sold out minutes after pre-orders kicked off but that’s not surprising. Apple fandom is a force to be reckoned with, and it was almost inevitable even before the brand started selling unlocked versions of their latest device. Now availability of the 7 and 7 Plus has improved and fans who missed the pre-order period are slowly but surely upgrading to the latest iPhone.
If you’re not among them because you just can’t wrap your mind around all the hype, maybe it’s time to take another look at the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. At first glance, they’re pretty similar to the 6S – okay, virtually identical – with the main external difference being the controversial lack of headphone jack. So let’s get that issue out of the way.
Critics of the choice to remove the jack made it seem like the end of the iPhone era but it turns out brands like Audeze have been crafting premium headphones with lightning connectors for some time now and adapters like the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar let you simultaneously charge and listen, just like in the old days.
Looking at specs, some things have stayed pretty much the same – like the display quality, battery life, 3D Touch support and storage when compared with the newly boosted 6S – but don’t let that dissuade you from upgrading. Where this phone has improved mightily is first in its overall durability. The newest iteration of the iPhone finally brings IP67 dust and water resistance to the table, which is great news considering how sensitive some older iPhones were to even small amounts of moisture.
Second, the iPhone 7 delivers 40-50% performance gains over the iPhone 6S depending on the model thanks to a big speed boost thanks to a processor upgrade. There’s also a 50% boost to 4G speeds. And third, the iPhone 7 series features a new 6-element lens plus an upgraded image signal processor, and the 7 Plus has 2x optical zoom paired with a much wider depth of field.
Less notable are differences related to aesthetics. As mentioned above, the 6 and 7 series phones are nearly the same size. The biggest changes in this area are the removal of the antenna bands from the back of the 7 and the (slightly) expanded array of color options. For users who care more about looks than specs, the choice is clear. The 7 is sleek, more colorful and durable enough to use without a bulky case, plus it offers everything the 6 does and a little bit more.
For those who are going to put the iPhone in a case from day 1 the choice isn’t as clear – particularly since the 6S now has more storage capacity at a lower price. Bottom line, the iPhone 7 isn’t a big upgrade but it’s still a great device. Then again, recent leaks suggest 2017 is going to be a big year for the iPhone in celebration of the line’s 10 year anniversary.
If you’ve already made the switch, there are plenty of tweaks you can make to your new 7 to get more utility and enjoyment out of the device. The iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t have a physical home button but the capacitive, sensor-driven disk that takes over its function provides sensory feedback just like a physical button – and the feeling of that feedback can be toggled in settings. Missing the ability to charge and listen to music? The official iPhone Lightning Dock makes it possible once again. And switching carriers to one with more perks (T-Mobile comes to mind) can make using this phone as your primary media device more affordable.
So should you upgrade? Only you can decide. Do you want early adopter cred or a solid phone that will tide you over until 2017 when you can check out the all-glass chassis that we’ll supposedly see on the 8? There are no right or wrong answers. For a number launch, Apple put out a pretty tame upgrade but there is still plenty to like.