Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: Everything you need to know

Alex Kidman 8 September 2016 NEWS


Apple has unveiled its latest premium smartphone, the iPhone 7, along with the larger-screened, dual camera iPhone 7 Plus, which will go on sale next week.

  • New A10 Fusion Processor: A new smartphone needs a new processor, and Apple’s claims around the A10 Fusion suggest that it should lead to even faster, smoother iOS performance over all your apps.
  • Water resistant: Finally, Apple has joined the water and dust resistance party. The iPhone 7 family rated as IP67 protected, which means it should be able to survive immersion in water.
  • Refined design: The iPhone 7 will feature a high-gloss finish that Apple refers to as “Jet Black” with a stainless steel Apple logo, as well as a new plain black finish alongside the usual silver, gold and rose gold options.
  • Updated home button: Apple’s says the new engine underneath the new home button will allow for new feedback systems and faster response under iOS 10.
  • Retina HD display: The iPhone 7 will have a 25% brighter screen with a claimed wide colour gamut. Retina Display is still Apple’s marketing term, but on the surface it appears to be a very well colour-balanced display.
  • Improved Camera: Apple has made optical image stabilisation standard across both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, along with a new image signal processor designed to improve picture taking. Live photos also get access to optical image stabilisation.
  • Dual Lens iPhone 7 Plus Camera: Apple has always left the best camera features for its Plus phones, and this year it gives Plus owners two 12MP lenses; one wide and one telephoto lens, which means that you don’t need crop up for 2x optical zoom. Apple will also provide a software update for the iPhone 7 Plus to allow a real time depth of field feature later this year.
  • Stereo speakers: Apple is borrowing a trick from HTC here, with stereo speakers built into the iPhone 7.
  • No headphone jack: The rumours were true, with Apple doing away with the headphone jack in favour of Lightning-connected earpods. Apple will also include a Lightning to mini phono adaptor in the box with each iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. As expected, Apple will also release wireless headphones, dubbed “AirPods” for those who prefer wireless audio.
  • Choice of sizes: Just as it has done since the days of the iPhone 6, you’ll be able to buy the iPhone 7 in both a regular and Plus version with a larger display. Expect improved battery life on the Plus version, in return for it taking up a lot more space in your pocket and more of a hit on your wallet.
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    How much will the Apple iPhone 7 cost?

    In the UK, the iPhone 7 will start at £599. The iPhone 7 Plus will start at £719 for 32GB, £819 for 128GB and £919 for 256GB.

    The iPhone 7 will go on pre-order from 9 September with availability one week later on 16 September. The UK is amongst the launch countries, so we can expect to be (technically) the first place to buy the iPhone 7 in the world.

    If you’re not planning to buy an iPhone 7 outright, you’re looking at a contract device. It’s an incredibly safe bet to say that all of the major carriers will offer the iPhone 7 when it launches on 16 September.

    We’ll update as soon as each local carrier announces its iPhone 7 pricing plans. With the iPhone’s premium pricing model, it’s likely that you’ll be looking at some form of handset repayment at every possible price tier on contract. Even so, that can still be a sensible way to both reduce the overall cost of the phone and spread that cost over time.

    What’s new in the Apple iPhone 7?

    The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are an evolution of Apple’s design, and indeed the kinds of things that Apple tends to do with products over time. As expected the analogue headphone jack is no more, but it’s pleasing that Apple will at least provide a Lightning to analogue adaptor if you’ve got good cans you already want to use with the new phone. The new AirPods are conceptually quite nice, although the look is rather reminiscent of existing and often-mocked mono Bluetooth headsets. Then again, if anyone can make that kind of thing a stylish standard, it’s Apple.

    On the camera front there are improvements all around, with a claimed boost photo quality generally, optical image stabilisation across the board and, of course, a slightly better camera option on the iPhone 7 Plus. Dual cameras aren’t new, but Apple’s take is different to that of the Huawei P9 and LG G5 with the inclusion of an actual optical zoom lens. As always, we’ll need hands-on testing time to see if the new optics live up to Apple’s hype.

    A new smartphone should be faster, and Apple’s claims around the new A10 Fusion processor in the Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus are particularly enthusiastic. The claim is that it’s got a 40% jump over the 6s series for CPU performance and a 50% jump in GPU performance. The optimisations that Apple can bring to iOS thanks to its tight control over both hardware and software should mean that the iPhone 7 really flies in performance terms, but we’ll have to wait for more formal testing to see quite how quick it will be.

    Apple’s claim for battery life is that consumers should get 2 hours more on the iPhone 7 range if jumping from the 6s, or at least 1 hour more on the iPhone 7 Plus if coming up from the iPhone 6s plus.

    The loss of the headphone jack is undoubtedly the most controversial aspect of the iPhone 7. Dropping inputs is something Apple has significant history with, having been the first manufacturer to drop the floppy drive in the original iMac and the optical drive in the first MacBook Air model back in 2008. Apple’s contention is that it has “courage” in going for lightning audio as the standard, as well as the option of the AirPods Bluetooth headphones. At least it’s keeping an adaptor in the box as standard, so those who have invested in quality headphones can continue to use them. Those who enjoy annoying folks on the train may well love the new stereo speakers as well, although this is a feature that’s been present in multiple Android phones previously.

    One thing we’re glad to see the back of with the iPhone 7 is the entry level 16GB storage tier. For years now Apple has offered a 16GB lower-cost iPhone model, but it’s been largely a false economy. Even if you’re not particularly app-happy, 16GB on an iPhone can fill astonishingly fast, leaving you with a sluggish smartphone that won’t take any more. The jump up to 32GB will help remarkably with this, although if you do still want a lower-cost iPhone, there’s still the iPhone SE, which comes in 16GB and 64GB varieties, and the 6s and 6s Plus will now jump up to 32GB and 128GB variants.

    Apple iPhone 7/7 Plus Specifications

    Apple iPhone 7 Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    Screen size 4.7in 5.5in
    Storage 32/128/256GB 32/128/256GB
    Weight 168g 168g
    Processor Apple A10 Fusion Apple A10 Fusion
    Rear camera 12MP 12MP
    Front camera 7MP 7MP
    Battery Lithium ion, “up to 2 hours more than iPhone 6s” Lithium ion, “up to 2 hours more than iPhone 6s”
    Resolution 1334×750 1920×1080
    Display density 326ppi 401ppi

    Should I buy an Apple iPhone 7?

    As always, it depends on where you’re coming from. Apple has improved on the iPhone 6s/6s Plus range, but that was to be expected. Realistically if you’re an iPhone 6s/6s Plus owner, your phone isn’t that old right now, and it’s likely to be supported for the next couple of major iOS releases to come, so upgrading immediately is arguably less compelling unless you absolutely must have the latest and greatest Apple gear.

    Apple has long held to its tick-tock naming and development mechanisms that work best for those who already have iPhones with two years on the clock. As such, if you’re an iPhone 6 owner then you’re probably approaching the end of your current phone contract and using an older device that could well benefit most from an upgrade to the iPhone 7. That’s even more true for iPhone 5s, iPhone 5 or earlier iOS device users, naturally.

    From the Android side of the fence, presuming you’re not ideologically bolted to that side of the smartphone world, it’s a more complex picture, because the iPhone 7 has to go head to head not only with older iPhone models, but also the cutting edge of the Android world, which encompasses devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Huawei P9, Sony Xperia X Performance and LG G5.

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