iPhone 7 review

When the iPhone 7 was launched, I already have an iPhone 6. Sure it’s not as new or speedy as the 6S but it is my first 4.7” iPhone and it’s a big improvement over my old 5S. So there was no need for a new iPhone with pretty much the same form factor and identical design save for new colors and waterproofing. Or so I thought. 3 days after the local launch of the iPhone 7, I am a proud owner of a brand new iPhone 7.

Like I said, the iPhone 7 design and form factor is quite similar to the 6 and 6S. From a glance you couldn’t tell it’s an iPhone 7 unless it’s the new black or jet black ‘glossy’ finish. If you look closer though you’re going to notice subtle differences like the new solid state home button, new slightly larger but more refined camera bump and an antenna bands that wraps around the top and bottom side of the phone instead of across like the older models and of course lack of audio jack.

From the onset, I was going to go with the (matte) black finish. It’s a refreshing change from the regular silver or space grey color and I’m loving this new color. There’s no way I’m going to choose the glossy jet black finish which should be a fingerprint magnet, no to mention scratch-prone as admitted by Apple themselves. Although the iPhone 7 is a few grams heavier than the 6, you couldn’t really tell the difference. The new static home button doesn’t take long to get used to, at least not for me. Instead of a clickable moving button they’ve put a static button which doesn’t move at all. Instead the haptic vibration motor on the left side will give you the sensation of pushing a button. Apple found out that in many countries especially in Asia and South America, iPhone users tend to use the assistive touch function instead of actually clicking the home button because of prior experience where the iPhone’s home button has the tendency to malfunction from constant clicking. While I can vouch for that myself from personal experience, the newer iPhones - from 6 onwards doesn’t really have that problem anymore, at least not as numerous as the older models. But still some people kept avoiding using the home button out of habit. That’s why Apple designed the new static home button with that contentious issue in mind. So hopefully no more faulty home buttons on the iPhone after this.

So what else is new about the iPhone 7? There’s the elephant in the room - the lack of audio jack. Like it or not Apple has made the decision to remove the audio jack altogether not because of waterproofing but because it’s an old tech. Their reasoning is that the audio jack takes up precious space inside the iPhone which they could have used for something else for example a larger taptic feedback engine. Quite understandably there was a huge uproar about this omission. While Apple call it courage, some people just call it stupid. As for me, it doesn’t really bother me that much. They did include a Lightning to 35mm headphone jack adapter in the box where you can plug in your regular headphones. I’ve also been using a Bluetooth audio receiver unit which I used together with my regular headphones. Sure it’s a little inconvenient at first to carry yet another adapter but I got used to it after a while. Plus Bluetooth audio doesn’t sound quite as good as direct connection to the phone but like it or not, the audio jack is gone for good from now on so you’ll just have to deal with it. What’s more, more and more smartphone manufacturer are following suit by removing audio jacks from their phones as well.

Another new and much welcomed new feature on the iPhone 7 is waterproofing. It is now rated IP67 which is splash, water and dust resistant which mean you should no longer worry (much) about dropping your phone in water or liquid damage in general. The camera is always, much better than its predecessor. Pictures look bright and vibrant on the Retina HD screen. You get optical image stabilization even on the smaller iPhone 7 model now which was previously only available on the iPhone 6S Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus model meanwhile comes with dual camera where you can take this awesome portrait mode photos with a neat depth of field effect just like the one taken with a decent DSLR camera. As much as I like to get that feature, I couldn’t justify spending a few hundred more on a bigger iPhone. Besides, the 4.7” iPhone fits my pocket just nice for now.

sample images taken with the iPhone 7
The new iPhone also now features stereo speakers with the one normal speaker at the bottom and another front-facing speaker new the earpiece at the top. It’s a strange combination but it works. Sound is much louder than the the previous iPhone with increased dynamic range as well.

sample images taken with the iPhone 7

What about the actual user experience you say? Suffice to say it’s the best iPhone yet (naturally). Everything feels much faster, there’s no delay or lag when opening and running apps. I love everything about iOS 10 like a much more interesting iMessage, new notification screen, 3D touch, universal clipboard and not forgetting the new keyboard clicking sound just to name a few. The battery could last up to 8 to 9 hours with heavy use. Wish they had fast charging though because 1.5 hours of charging time feels abnormally long in this day and age.

So should you buy it? If you need to ask me I’d be biased and say definitely, especially if you’re coming from an iPhone 5S or even 6 (or gasp, Androids!). If you don’t mind not having an audio jack, a better camera, better processor, waterproofing and a black iPhone, the iPhone 7 is a must buy. If you already have a 6S, there’s not much difference between the two save for you know, actually having an audio jack and waterproofing. Either way if money is no object you could never go wrong with an iPhone. I thought the iPhone 7 will be flying off the shelves during launch day but I was sorely wrong. There’s plenty of iPhone 7s left in the stores even 3 days later including the much sought after jet black finish. Perhaps the consumer was turned away by the lack of new design or they actually wanted audio jacks on their smartphones (I doubt its a real deal-breaker). Either way, 3 months later sales figures have indicated that there’s considerably less demand for the new iPhone compared to previous models.

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