Apple has a new iPhone. It’s more powerful than ever — the most powerful phone ever. It has longer battery life, and the larger 7 Plus has a unique dual-lens camera. It has no headphone jack. It’s waterproof and dust proof. The home button is brand new. And it runs Apple’s brand new iOS 10 operating system. Here’s everything you need to know.
At its September Special Event in San Francisco, Apple introduced the world to the new iPhone 7, running through a list of 10 features that made it unique and magical and other positive adjectives. We can boil that down to a few less for you.
The iPhone 7 has the same basic design and layout as the iPhone 6, but makes a few small but significant changes. The chassis, for example, has been redesigned to almost entirely eliminate antenna lines, and integrates the camera bump into the chassis for a smoother, rounder look. Everything looks a little more refined. Oh, and there’s no headphone jack any more.
The phone’s home button has been redesigned, abandoning the classic tactile clicking home button for a Force Touch pressure-sensitive circle. Inside the phone, a larger Taptic Engine vibration engine allows different feelings for short and long press and other interactions. The new iPhone is IP67 water and dust resistant, too.
And then there’s the new colours. The iPhone 7 will be available in the usual silver, gold and rose gold, but abandons Space Grey for a new matte Black and piano Jet Black finish. That super-glossy Jet Black will only be available in the two higher storage capacities, so you’ll have to open your wallets even more than usual to get one.
On the smaller iPhone 7, the redesigned 12-megapixel camera gets a faster f/1.8 lens and optical image stabilisation, with a new six-element lens glass setup and a True Tone LED flash that now has four different LED segments that can flash 50 per cent brighter than the old one. It also supports wide colour gamut photography and RAW image capture.
Now, the 7 Plus’ dual-lens camera isn’t unique in that it’s dual lens. The Huawei P9 has that, as does the LG G5. What’s unique about the iPhone 7 is that it mixes features from both those competitors. Like the P9 it has two identical 12-megapixel sensors, one for each lens, giving you shots that look the same from both cameras. Like the G5, you get a wide-angle and a telephoto lens to give you two different creative options.
Apple is talking about the iPhone 7 Plus’ potential to zoom between the two lenses, and up to 10x total zoom using the iPhone’s camera. It’s important to realise that you only have two optical zoom settings — 1x, using the 28mm prime lens’ full 12-megapixel sensor, and 2x, using the 56mm prime lens’ full 12-megapixel sensor. Anything else will introduce a bit of digital cropping.
Apple’s Retina displays don’t get a resolution bump, but they are 25 per cent brighter than previous phones. That’s a big difference, especially when it comes to outdoor viewing and watching video, both of which can benefit massively from a higher peak brightness level.
The new displays — also identically sized to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus — support wide colour gamut, which is one of those incredibly important display technologies that nobody really talks about. WCG means a much broader range of colours can be displayed, and that means smoother gradation in the images and icons you see.
And like the iPhone 6s, the 7 supports 3D Touch. While Apple and its third-party partners haven’t really given 3D Touch a killer hook yet, we happen to think it’s an incredibly important piece of hardware. In the smartphone world, it’s (almost ironically) like giving Apple a second right-click mouse button where its competitors only have left-click.
The iPhone 7 uses a new A10 Fusion system-on-chip processor, which is for the first time a quad-core chip. Integrating two performance cores and two efficiency cores, it’s a similar ARM setup to the one that many Android phones have used for some time now, allowing for a compromise between battery life and outright performance.
Apple says the iPhone 7 is the most powerful smartphone ever, though. While we’ll wait for the Geekbench results to tell us that for a fact, it’s definitely faster than the 6s — with 50 per cent more graphics power versus the previous A9, which will make higher frame rates possible for visually interesting games.
More internal storage as standard, too, is a very nice inclusion. 32GB is now the base level — thank God! We told you not to buy a 16GB iPhone — and 128GB and 256GB are the upper-specced variants available. That’s a bunch of storage, and that means a bunch of offline photos and Apple Music downloads without even worrying about an iCloud backup.
The iPhone 7’s speakers are 50 per cent louder than the 6s, and for the first time — a long, long time coming, too — in an iPhone are stereo. The iPhone 7 uses the earpiece for that stereo sound with the same downward-firing speaker in the base, also promising a more extensive dynamic range when you’re using them — but please, don’t use them on the train when I’m around.
The battery is improved over last generation, not through a larger capacity but just by the new A10 Fusion chip’s more efficient processing. Apple says the 7 will get two hours more than the 6s — 13 hours of wireless video watching, let’s say — where the 7 Plus gets one more more than the 6s Plus — 14 hours overall wireless video.
And Apple is also keeping up — for the most part — with ongoing advances in Wi-Fi and 4G mobile network connectivity, with the iPhone 7 supporting 450Mbps downloads over LTE Category 9 with support for LTE-Advanced. And Voice over LTE and Wi-Fi calling are also both included out of the box, as long as Australia’s carriers get their act together for it.
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