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Hands-on: The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
By Bryan Chan & Kenny Yeo - 14 Oct 2016,9:02am

Hands-on: The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

First published on September 8, 2016.

Behold, the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus!

This year’s new iPhones are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. They look and feel similar, but they also boast some interesting new features. Our news piece about the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus covers the basics, so that’s a good place to start if you are reading about the new iPhones for the first time.

The new Jet Black color is gorgeously shiny.

In terms of design, the big news is that there’ll be new colors, otherwise the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus look and feel very similar to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Gone is Space Gray as Apple is finally bringing back 'proper' black. The two new colors are Jet Black and Black. Jet Black is essentially black but with a high gloss finish that is really nice, but also extremely susceptible to finger prints. Black, on the other hand, is just the matte equivalent of Jet Black. Of the two, Jet Black is easily the more attractive, but if you want something less 'bling' and more low-key, Black isn’t a bad option either. The other three colors are Silver, Gold and Rose Gold, which are also available on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. And in terms of actual dimensions and weight, the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are almost identical to their predecessors. 

This is Black and Gold.

This is Silver.

This is Rose Gold.

The other major design changes is the Home button. It’s now a Force Touch button like the Force Touch trackpads on newer Mac notebooks. It doesn’t actually move, but vibrates to trick users into thinking that it’s clicking like a button. Apple says this improves reliability and durability.

The Home button doesn't actually move. Also, notice the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack.

And finally, the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are dust and water resistant, rated up to IP67 standards, which means it can be immersed in water up to 1 meter, for 30 minutes. That’s more than sufficient if you accidentally drop your phone into a sink or if you get caught in a heavy rain. 

iPhone Specs Comparison
  iPhone 7 iPhone 6s iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 6s Plus
Display Size 4.7-inch 4.7-inch 5.5-inch 5.5-inch
Resolution 1,334 x 750 pixels 1,334 x 750 pixels  1,920 x 1,080 pixels 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Pixel Density 326 ppi 326 ppi  401 ppi 401 ppi
Processor A10 Fusion with M10 coprocessor A9 with M9 coprocessor A10 Fusion with
M10 coprocessor
A9 with M9 coprocessor
Memory  2GB 2GB   2GB  2GB
Camera

Rear: New 12MP, f/2.2
Front: 7 megapixel, f/2.2 

Rear: 12MP, f/2.2
Front: 5 megapixel, f/2.2

Rear: New 12MP dual cameras. Wide: f/1.8, Tele: f/2.8
Front: 7 megapixel, f/2.2
Rear: 12MP, f/2.2
Front: 5 megapixel, f/2.2 
Optical Image Stabilization Yes No Yes Yes
Storage 32GB, 128GB, 256GB  16GB, 64GB, 128GB 32GB, 128GB, 256GB  16GB, 64GB, 128GB
Dimensions  138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm 138.1 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
Weight  138g 143g 188g 192g

As for hardware updates, the camera is perhaps the most impressive. The iPhone 7’s camera still shoots at 12MP, but it now has a wider f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. Optical image stabilization was previously available only on the larger Plus models. There’s also a new Quad-LED True Tone flash. The front-facing camera has been upgraded to a 7MP shooter.

The larger iPhone 7 Plus now has dual cameras.

The camera upgrades in the iPhone 7 Plus is even more drastic. Instead of one camera, the iPhone 7 Plus has two 12MP cameras - one wide-angle and the other telephoto. This allows it to have an optical zoom of up to 2x and digital zoom of up to 10x. This allows it to be more useful in a variety of situations. The dual camera setup also allows the iPhone 7 Plus to achieve a new depth-of-field effect that will be coming later this year as a free software upgrade. The only downside to this is the rather big camera bump on the rear of the phone. The iPhone 7 Plus will also have Quad-LED True Tone flash. Additionally, the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be able to shoot in RAW, which should be great news for serious photography enthusiasts. The front-facing camera has been upgraded to a 7MP shooter.

Colors really pop on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

The other significant update is the display. Display sizes and resolutions are unchanged on both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but the display is now 25 percent brighter and supports a wider color gamut. The end result is that the displays of the new iPhones look bright and more vivid, with the colors really popping out at you.

And of course, the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are powered by a new and more powerful processor. Dubbed the A10 Fusion, this new processor is 40 percent faster than the A9 and will provide 50 percent better graphics performance. Additionally, Apple also says this new chip is more power efficient, allowing the new phones will run even longer. Apple says the iPhone 7 will last about two hours longer than the iPhone 6s, while the 7 Plus will gain an hour over the 6s Plus.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus handle just like their predecessors.

Perhaps the most controversial change of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is the removal of the headphone jack. Considering that a good number of iPhone users still pair their phones with regular wired headphones with 3.5mm input jacks, it’s safe to say that this change will likely have the biggest impact on most users. Audio will now have to go through the either the Lightning connector or wirelessly via Bluetooth. Apple has provided new Lightning headphones as well as a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter to help users adapt to the change.

The new AirPods look like EarPods with their wires lopped off.

In addition, Apple has also made new wireless headphones called AirPods. They look like EarPods without wires and are really quite nifty to use. Pairing them was almost instantaneous. All you have to do is to open the carrying case, and your iPhone will automatically prompt you to connect them. Tap connect and you are good to go. They fit quite snugly just like regular EarPods.

The venue was noisy, so it’s difficult to say anything about audio quality. But, the AirPods have sensors that can tell whether they are in your ears or not. Removing them will instantly pause music, and wearing them back will instantly resume music playback.

The EarPods slide into the charging case when not in use. The case provides up to 25 hours of listening.

The AirPods 5 hour long battery life is pretty decent, but what’s even more cool is that the carrying case doubles up as a charger. 15 minutes is enough to charge the AirPods for 3 hours of listening time, and the carrying case provides enough juice for up to 25 hours of listening. Local pricing and availability remain to be confirmed.

So which iPhone 7 are you eyeing?

Like we mentioned at the start, this year’s new iPhones are not drastically different from last year’s, but they do have some important features that will entice users to upgrade. The faster processor and better cameras are perhaps the most attractive new features. iPhone fans who have been hankering for a proper black iPhone will also feel the urge or need to upgrade, especially since the new Jet Black color looks so cool. That said, it will be interesting to see how users react to Apple’s bold decision to remove the 3.5mm audio jack.