The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were officially revealed by Apple this morning. While both models are similar to last year's iterations, they do usher in a handful of significant changes -- not all of which are good. Here's all the new stuff you need to know about.
iPhone 7 colours: There's now a black one (two to be precise)
Has there really never been a black iPhone before now? Apparently so. Alongside the usual silver, gold and rose gold variants, you can now choose between a matte black or glossy black finish. On the downside, the elegant 'space gray' option is no more. Sniff.
iPhone 7 durability: It's now water resistant (but not water proof)
Finally! The Apple iPhone 7 sports an improved enclosure that's dust and water resistant. (Rated IP67 under IEC standard 60529.) While you won't be able to use it underwater like some flagship Androids, at least you don't need to freak out if it falls into the toilet. (Well, apart from the poo and wee.) This was a long overdue feature so not worth crowing about.
iPhone 7 CPU: Introducing A10 Fusion
Both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus sport a faster, four-core processor dubbed the A10 Fusion. It features two low-power cores that should help to improve overall performance and battery life (more on which below.) According to Apple, it's the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone. It boasts 64-bit architecture and an embedded M10 motion coprocessor. Apple reckons its "twice as fast" as the iPhone 6's chip, whatever that means. At the very least, it should be speedier and more reliable when running graphically taxing applications.
iPhone 7 battery: two hours of extra juice
If Apple can be believed, the iPhone 7 will have the longest battery life of any iPhone. It purportedly beats the iPhone 6s by around two hours. Let's hope it also charges properly, eh?
iPhone 7 display: Retina gets an upgrade
Both new iPhone models come equipped with LCD Retina displays much like the iPhone 6s. However, the screens are now 25 per cent brighter and purportedly boast a wider colour gamut. The iPhone 7 has a native resolution of 1334×750 pixels. The iPhone 7 Plus: 1920×1080 pixels.
iPhone 7 camera: Improved photos and RAW support
Apple's redesigned 12-megapixel cameras are arguably the iPhone 7's biggest claim to fame. Both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus now come with optical image stabilisation and an f/1.8 aperture lens for improved low-light photography. Apple has also reworked the flash to make it brighter and able to capture truer tones. Additionally, there have been some tweaks to its image processor for better editing.
In exciting news for serious mobile photographers, the new OS ushers in RAW photos for the first time ever. The front-facing camera is better too, boasting a 7-megapixel sensor in place of the iPhone 6s' 5-MP offering: selfie fans take note. 4K video recording, meanwhile, remains unchanged at 30 fps.
The iPhone 7 Plus ups the ante further with dual cameras, one of which boasts a telephoto lens. This means that zoomed in images should be much clearer than before. According to Apple, the dual camera employs machine learning to create a depth map. After selecting the camera app's new "portrait" mode, you'll immediately see the depth effect in real time. You can also zoom 2x instantly with the tap of a button. We've yet to test these phones' photographic capabilities, but it's safe to assume they will remain at the top of their field.
iPhone 7 redesigned home button
The patented Apple iPhone home button has received its first major redesign since the original hit stores almost a decade ago. The new, pressure-sensitive home button will support force-touch like gestures. It's also customisable.
iPhone 7 storage: the 16GB model is dead
There are three storage options for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus: 32GB, 128GB and 256GB. Yes, the 16GB model is no more. This is bad news for cash-strapped Apple fans who are desperate to save a few bucks, but it's good news for everybody else. As we've been saying for some time now, there's no place for 16GB in a modern smartphone lineup -- especially when you're forced to pay for additional cloud storage. We aren't sad to see it go.
iPhone 7 audio: now in stereo
The iPhone finally boasts proper stereo speakers; one on the top and another on the bottom. The new speaker system includes an increased dynamic range, which should help improve the sound. There's also a greater emphasis on wireless audio, with Apple unveiling an interesting pair of Bluetooth-enabled "AirPods" (sold separately) which will last up to five hours on a single charge.
According to Apple, the speakers' audio output is twice as loud as the maximum volume of the iPhone 6s. This is bound to come in handy if you lose your Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone jack adapter. Which brings us to this...
iPhone 7 connectivity: no 3.5mm audio jack
Yes, really. Apple thinks it’s time to move on from the 3.5mm headphone jack if we want to get more innovation in headphone design and improve audio quality. Instead, iPhone 7 users will need to rely on Bluetooth headsets, Lightning-based headphones or use a Lightning to audio adaptor to listen to music or make hands-free calls.
"The reason to move on comes down to one word -- courage," Apple’s Phil Schiller explained onstage. "This is really important, our smartphones are packed with technologies...it's all fighting for space. Maintaining an ancient analogue connector doesn't make sense."
To its credit, Apple is including a Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone jack adapter in the box, but this is an extra doodad you now need to carry around. A bitter pill to swallow. You can read more about the ditched audio jack here.
iPhone 7 dimensions: same thickness
At 7.1mm, the iPhone 7 is actually the same thickness as the iPhone 6s. This is curious when you consider the headphone jack was supposedly ditched to allow a thinner design. Hmmm.
And there you have it. It's not the most revolutionary upgrade we've seen from Apple, but there can be little doubt that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will please the majority of iOS users. The only real fly in the ointment is the missing 3.5mm audio jack. If you already own a good pair of Bluetooth headphones this probably won't bother you, but we imagine many consumers are going to be peeved off. The included adaptor looks very easy to lose -- and we doubt Apple will be handing out free replacements.
What are your thoughts on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus? Is the deliberate killing off of the 3.5mm headphone standard a bridge too far, or do you consider it a necessary sacrifice? Share your views in the comments.