At long last, the iPhone 7 is here. At the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Apple continued its traditional naming structure with the introduction of the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. We’ve been playing around with the upcoming iOS 10 operating system in beta for the better part of two months, and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will ship with the new OS (read more about iOS 10 here), but we were excited to learn more about the actual phones.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new iPhones, and trust us, there’s a lot of interesting changes.
Waterproof design and durability
The iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus aren’t part of Apple’s major update cycle — you’ll have to wait for next year’s model for that, and of course rumors are already abound — but they do have some awesome new abilities.
Both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are (finally!) water- and dust-resistant (IP67), meaning you’re free to get them wet without worry. That means you’ll be able to take either of them underwater for about 30 minutes, up to 1 meter deep.
The two new devices maintain the same aluminum body and don’t look a ton different than 2015’s iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. They even share the same respective screen sizes: a 4.7-inch display on the 7, and a 5.5-inch screen for the 7 Plus. The Plus sports a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, and its smaller brother packs 1,334 x 750 pixels. Both screens are 25 percent brighter than the 6S and display a wide color gamut.But the differences are still noticeable. Both of them feature a “pristine, mirror-like surface” and a high-gloss finish.
“The high-gloss finish of the jet black iPhone 7 is achieved through a precision nine-step anodization and polishing process,” according to the site. “Its surface is equally as hard as other anodized Apple products; however, its high shine may show fine micro-abrasions with use. If you are concerned about this, we suggest you use one of the many cases available to protect your iPhone.”
Yes, Apple just recommended you get a case for the jet black iPhone 7 because it’s prone to scratches.
The new phones also do not feature antenna bands anymore on the top and bottom. Instead, those bands are now barely visible on the bottom and top edges.
Apple is also bringing more colors to the iPhone 7, so in addition to silver, gold, and rose gold, you can also choose between a glossy “jet black” and a matte black color. The jet black replaces the famous space grey color.
The camera on the rear still sticks out a little, but the most noticeable difference is on the iPhone 7 Plus. It features dual-cameras on the rear, similar to smartphones like the LG G5. It’s the first iPhone to ever have such a feature, which is easily identifiable on the back of the device. We’ll go into more detail on the cameras later in this article.
Finally, the iconic home button now features a new version of the pressure-sensitive and Touch ID sensor. It no longer actually clicks, but simulates one via a vibration like the Force Touch trackpad on MacBooks. The Force Touch Home button offers Taptic feedback and this can be programmed via third-party applications to offer “new feelings and experiences.”
No headphone jack
Both new iPhones also utilize stereo speakers — both at the top and bottom of the devices — and Apple says they feature “increased dynamic range.” However, those speakers are exactly where the headphone jack used to be.
Our take: If the iPhone’s headphone jack dies, Apple wins and you lose
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus no longer feature a 3.5mm headphone jack. That means you’ll have to rely on a Lightning converter for your current headphones, or upgrade to a pair of Bluetooth earbuds.
To make up for the missing headphone jack, Apple is including a pair of Lightning-connected (wired) EarPods in the box and a Lightning-converter for your 3.5mm headphone plug. The big downside: you cannot charge your phone and listen to music at the same time.
The lack of a headphone jack also prompted Apple to improve wireless audio — the result is the W1 wireless chip. It’s implemented in another new Apple product, the AirPods, which are completely wireless and get 5 hours of battery life. They aren’t included in the box, and you can read more about the $160 wireless earbuds here.
More processing power
Apart from the new high-gloss finish and water-resistant rating, there are several other major changes under the hood of the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus utilize Apple’s most powerful processor ever — the A10 Fusion. It’s a 64-bit quad-core processor that’s 40 percent faster than the A9 in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Apple says it’s 120 times faster than the original iPhone.
The first two cores are for high-performance actions, and the remaining two are high-efficiency ones. Apple has designed a performance controller to determine which actions make use of either set of cores. For example, checking your email will most likely be powered by the high-efficiency cores, which is better for saving battery life.
The processor also improves the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ graphics — it’s 50 percent faster than the A9.
The battery is also the best ever compared to previous iPhones. The Cupertino company says the new iPhone 7 will last 2 hours more than the iPhone 6S, and the iPhone 7 Plus will add an additional hour over the iPhone 6S Plus.
The iPhone 7 has a spectacular camera, or so the company says. But you’ll have to shell a little more money for the 5.5-inch variant for an even better one. The iPhone 7 Plus is the first iPhone with a dual-camera system.
But let’s start with the normal iPhone 7, seeing as it’s one part of the system on the 7 Plus. The 12-megapixel camera officially features optical image stabilization, a 28mm wide-angle lens with a f/1.8 aperture, and a high-speed sensor that’s 60 percent faster than before. It’s also 30 percent more energy efficient.
Apple’s new image signal processor in the iPhone 7 offers twice the throughput of Apple’s previous ISP, and even the True Tone flash has gotten an upgrade — it’s got four LEDs that offers 50 percent more light. A new flicker sensor also adds artificial light, for brighter images in low-light scenarios.
The camera can detect faces and bodies and offers wide color capture. There’s so much more going on when you take a shot, such as white balance, noise reduction, and combining multiple images. Apple says there are 100 billion operations every time you take a picture, all in the span of 25 milliseconds. This is marketing lingo, but it is impressive what the phone is able to do in a fraction of a second.
Professional photographers will be happy to know that the iPhone 7 finally supports RAW image format, allowing for more control when editing photographs.
On the front of the phones, the selfie camera on the 7 and the 7 Plus has jumped to 7 megapixels, and also features wide color captures and automatic image stabilization.
The iPhone 7 Plus has a better rear camera, though. It uses the same camera as the iPhone 7, but there’s another 12-megapixel camera next to it. This one’s a 56mm-telephoto lens with an f/2.8 aperture. What’s special is a built-in zoom feature.
When you take a picture, a 1x icon will pop up in the camera. You’ll be able to tap and drag this slider from 1x to 10x — that lets you zoom into spectacularly-detailed images for a better crop. The camera uses a 2x optical zoom, but it switches to digital zoom when you move closer to 10x.
Additionally, there’s a new bokeh effect that’s currently being worked on by Apple’s camera engineers. It adds a blur effect to the backdrop of images to offer a depth effect that’s on par with DSLR cameras. You can turn this feature on or off, and you can also see a live preview of it before you take a shot. This feature will come later this year via a software update.
Availability and price
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are up for pre-order on September 9, and Apple says the devices will officially be available on September 16. The company will roll out iOS 10 three days prior on September 13.
The iPhone 7 starts at $649 and for the first time there is no longer a 16GB storage option. Instead, you can choose from 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The jet black color only has a 128GB and 256GB internal storage option.
The iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769 and also has the same storage options.
Apple is also upgrading the storage options for the iPhone SE, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus — there’s no longer a 16GB variant. Several iPads are also getting the same treatment.