The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are probably the most talked about smartphones of 2016, and there’s a reason for that.
Apple iPhone 7 versus 7 Plus, what are the differences?
Anyone looking to buy the latest iPhones will definitely have to decide whether they want the 7 or plus size and they do have some subtle differences that will help you decide:
The iPhone 7 dimensions come in at 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm and weighs 138 g while the iPhone 7 Plus spans 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm and is heavier at 188 g.
When it comes to display quality, the iPhone 7 features a 4.7-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD panel with 1334 x 750 pixels dishing out 326 ppi. It also looks slick with 65.6% screen-to-body ratio.
On the other hand, the iPhone 7 Plus is larger with a 5.5-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD display panel and for quality, it offers 1920 x 1080 pixels with 401 ppi and 67.7% screen-to-body ratio.
when you hold them to the naked eyes, you will notice that due to the small display of the iPhone 7, text and graphics looks more defined. It’s no surprise as the 7 Plus has a bigger display to cover.
One of the biggest rumours before launch was the dual camera system and that’s something that’s also different between the two devices.
The iPhone 7 is packed with a 12-megapixel primary camera with f/1.8 aperture, Focus Pixels, Optical Image Stabilisation, quad-LED (dual tone) flash, 4K video recording and on the front is a 7MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture which can also record in 1080p.
Meantime, the iPhone 7 Plus comes with a dual 12MP camera, the main one offers f/1.8 aperture and a focal length of 28mm. The second sensor is ready to zoom with f/2.8 aperture and focal length of 56mm.
Just like the 7, the 7 Plus is also loaded with Focus Pixels, OIS, quad-LED (dual tone) flash, 4K video recording and a 7MP sensor, f/2.2 aperture, 1080p recording on the front facing camera.
The 7 Plus is superior to the 7 with its dual camera, as it offers 2x optical zoom and can go further with a digital zoom. It means you can shoot portraits and zoom in on your subject without losing quality. More on this later.
The 7 Plus offers a longer battery life because it’s bigger, which won’t be new to those with the 6S Plus already. Having said that, both the 7 and the 7 Plus offers a longer battery life from their predecessors. Again, more on their performances later.
Finally, the iPhone 7 starts from $649 or £599 for those in the UK and the iPhone 7 Plus starts from $769 or £719. So you will have to decide if the bigger battery, larger display, and dual camera system is worth the $120/£120 price difference to you.
Now that we’ve got the differences out of the way, let’s talk about other areas. From here on, we’ll review the devices from the iPhone 7 perspective as they are very similar, but cover performance as per each device (camera and battery).
Apple iPhone 7 Design Review
The iPhone 7 didn’t change much when it comes to design; Apple has removed the 3.5mm headphone jack, causing a big controversy over the practicality of using one port for charging and listening to music.
The flaw here is that a) you can’t charge and use your headphones at the same time, b) you need to carry an adaptor around with you.
With the headphone jack removed, it poses problems such as losing the adaptor, and what have we gained by losing the audio jack space? and when on flights or in your car, you can’t just plug and go – it’s also an issue the other way round, because if all you carry is the lightening headphone, you can’t plug it into anything else.
Besides the headphone jack debacle, they also made a slight change to the antenna bands, so now you can’t see it on the back as you used to before. The earphone piece at the top now doubles up as a speaker, giving the iPhone a louder “stereo” speaker.
The home button is also now powered by a “taptic engine”, so you can no longer press it like a button, but you get a simulated vibration or haptic feedback that you can adjust to suit your need.
The best way to find out is when you have your iPhone 7 off, the home button does nothing, and when you switch it back on, you get a vibrating feedback when you press it. Although it takes some getting used to but you’ll soon get onboard with it. Maybe Apple could have removed the home button entirely.
What I really welcome with the new iPhone 7 is the wider colour range available, with the option to have a Jet Black which is glossy, Black which has a matte finish, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold. If you get the Jet Black finish, be prepared to constantly wipe it off every two seconds – not recommended for those with OCD of fingerprint stain.
Overall, the iPhone 7 still feels premium in hand, the matte finish edition is very nice, although many say the Jet Black version looks nicer. Apple has created a smartphone that you don’t want to cover up so you can show it off every time possible.
Did I forget to mention that they are both water-resistant with IP67 rating?
Apple iPhone 7 Processor Performance Review
The iPhone 7 looks and feels nice in hand, but what about performance? can you actually game on it, use it to browse the web, and actually use it as a phone that it is?
This is Apple’s first smartphone to feature a quad-core processor, which they promised would offer a 40% increase in speed and up to 50% faster graphics performance when compared to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. With a new A10 Fusion processor with embedded M10 motion co-processor, you can expect nothing but better performance, or can you?
We put the both devices to test and even with the faster quad-core processor chip, it suffers from random reboots and can get hot at times under heavy load. Besides those negative points, it will play any game you throw at it from the app store, watch movies comfortably, have a lot of apps running in the background and switch between then rapidly.
You may have read it and seen it on YouTube already but you will also notice that it skips frames at times; the time I notice this a lot is when switching between apps, although it’s not laggy, but what you will see is sometimes the current app on top would go to the right, stay there for a split second and it looks ugly, not sure it was intended to be that way.
When it comes to battery performance, you can’t fault the iPhone 7 Plus and that gives it the edge or another reason to purchase the plus size model over the standard 7.
The iPhone 7 will last a day before needing a charge at night; you can spend the day gaming, watching movies, emails, social media and even on full brightness, you have no issues. The 7 plus, on the other hand, will last a day, with about 10% left the next day – the battery life has definitely improved.
Apple iPhone 7 Camera Performance and 7 Plus 2 x Zoom
Besides size and a bigger battery capacity, the camera on the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus is probably another deciding factor when it comes whether you should upgrade your current iPhone or not and which one to go for.
The 7 has a single camera sensor, while the 7 plus features a dual lens setup, one which is capable of 2x optical zoom and Apple are also due to release an update that would allow you to shoot portrait mode or depth of field images with a nice blurred background.
In the past, only the plus model came with OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), but this time, Apple has included it with both devices which is very much welcomed. With the difference in lens setup, the 7 can only do 5 times digital zoom, while the 7 plus is capable of 2x optical and 10x digital zoom.
During our tests, the second lens doesn’t do well in low light, even more, noticeable when you zoom. So to fully rip its benefits, you want a well-lit environment. You will also notice this if you try the public beta (yes it’s a beta version and could be fixed in the final version), you will need good lighting to get the bokeh or portrait mode to work properly.
Let’s not forget Apple’s quad led true tone flash which is aimed at capturing natural light and natural colours when using flash and it does exactly as it says on the tin with that one. Apple also introduced something called “wide colour capture”, meaning colours are captured to really resemble what you can see when snapping away, so colours appear natural.
With an Apple-designed image signal processor, all the data crunching is smooth and no noticeable lag when shooting in HDR or any other modes which involve some processing.
Can we see some image samples?
Sure! Below are images taken on the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus in normal and 2x zoom.
iPhone 7 Camera sample showing a good level of detail, colours and its dynamic range is on point:
iPhone 7 Plus shots with 1 x zoom and 2 x optical zoom, respectively. Again, the 1 x Zoom offers better detail with OIS and the 2 X required a steady hand to get something of similar quality:
iOS 10 – Still needs some work, but a step in the right direction
iOS 10 comes with some improvements, not a lot to write home about, but then again a lot about the iPhone 7 is incremental in terms of upgrades. Whilst you can now unlock your phone straight from your Touch ID, quickly glance at notifications just by picking up your device, adjust flashlight brightness, control music from control center, remove some stock apps, do some gimmicky things in iMessage etc, what I really want to point out are the things you still can’t do.
On the lock screen, the process of opening a notification is counterintuitive, in the sense that you would want to just tap it and open up the notification after you unlock your iPhone 7, however, tapping the notification doesn’t do that, you have to either swipe to clear it or swipe right, unlock your phone and hope that the app opens the said notification.
Now that’s out of the way, some notable changes I really like includes the new bedtime alarm clock where you can enter the amount of sleep time needed and it works out the best time for you to go to sleep as well as remind you to go to sleep in order to get the right amount of sleep.
I also like the new photo app UI; iOS 10 can search for faces and group by faces/people, and you can also see places you have taken pictures in a better place and the memories features is awesome.
One thing I’ve always complained about is the ability to just clear all notifications instead of having to clear in groups or one by one, a long press on the “X” button now reveals a clear all notifications option…let’s all celebrate!
While iOS 10 offers a better experience with features that are functional and deeper integration with 3D touch, notification area still needs some work to compete with Android and 3D touch actions aren’t always obvious, for example clearing all notifications is not that obvious.
So who should by the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus?
The iPhone 7 is a great all round smartphone and bravo to Apple for what they have done with it. iOS is very easy to use and get on with, even for new users.
The hardware feels premium and can justify its price tag. Users with the 6s and the 6s Plus, I would recommend just upgrading your current iOS version to the latest one and you’re good.
If you have anything older, then you will enjoy the faster iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. If you love photography and tend to use your smartphone to take pictures a lot, then you can get the 7 Plus because the 2x optical zoom can be very useful especially when the portrait mode feature gets released.
Both devices are faster, offer a louder speaker although it still can’t compete with the HTC 10. Battery performance is notably better too which I place at number one on my list of what makes a good smartphone.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer better display quality too with good colour representation and Apple’s attention to detail is very obvious in how the devices work and look.
Finally, I would go for the Matte black over the Jet Black if you hate fingerprint stains on your device and would get annoyed easily by scratches…or just get a case to cover up the beauty that it is.
The iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus were provided by Vodafone UK for this review. All opinions are UNILAD Tech’s.
I write about all things tech!