To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade: Analyzing the key features and upgrades of the new iPhone 7 & 7 Plus
Tuc FisherSeptember 13, 2016454 Views0
As the summer months come to a close we are reminded by some familiar markers that fall is quickly approaching. The leaves begin to change color, cool weather begins to seep in, conversations regarding football make an emergence in our daily lives, and of course….a new iPhone release is on the horizon.
With the announcement of the iPhone 7, came the expected fervor felt across the country as Apple fan boys and girls came crawling out their gentrified town homes and apartments to see what Apple has to offer them.
In this review of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, I will highlight some key features and advancements that users will experience with the new iPhone while touching on a few controversial moves as well.
However, I’ll leave the final decision of whether or not you move from whatever outdated brick you are currently using to the newest installment of Apple-ware up to you.
Touch and Feel
The size and look of the iPhone 7 is very similar to its comparable predecessor, the iPhone 6S. It has the same 4.7 inch screen, however Apple has announced that the new HD Retina display is 25% brighter than last year’s model.
The screen also includes the 3D touch layer that buzzes when pressure is applied to the screen.
The iPhone 7 Plus has the same features but comes with a 5.5” screen size.
While the size and overall look of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is similar to past models, one of the new features is the installment of a solid state home button.
What that means is you cannot physically ‘press’ the button. Instead you will be utilizing a feature known as “taptic feedback”. Although this design takes some getting used to, Apple installed this feature in their MacBook Notebooks in 2015 which received mixed, but primarily positive, feedback from consumers.
Whether or not consumers will embrace the new home button is still up in the air.
Death of the Audio Jack
Easily the most controversial and talked about feature of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is the removal of the universally used audio jack. What Apple has decided to do in its stead is provide proud owners of the new iPhone with wireless Bluetooth headsets named “AirPods” (I was really hoping they were going to name them AirBuds but that’s the 90’s kid in me talking).
Now while this is a HUGE leap for the tech giant, and already has people rummaging through their garages for torches and pitchforks, the reality of it is that this is the kind of disruption that Apple strives for; that is, taking a universally accepted technology and completely turning it on its head.
We all remember when Apple moved from the 30-pin cable to the lightning connector in 2012 with the iPhone 5, and although this is a bigger jump, I think the same trend will happen here.
People will bitch and moan, lost AirPods will litter college campuses and workplaces for awhile, Twitter and Instagram will be all the rave with funny memes about the shortcomings of the new AirPods and the ceremonially passing of the AUX cord in the car may come to an end, but in a few years everyone will adapt and wireless headphones will be the new standard. Life goes on.
However, for those psychedelic relics who insist on solving the tangled rubix cube of wires every time they want to listen to some Pearl Jam, there is hope for you. There is an adapter for the new iPhone that plugs into the lightning connector which allows the use of traditional headphones.
In my opinion, the biggest shortfall of the AirPods are the battery life, reportedly carrying a five hour charge with continuous listening.
This very well could be the straw that broke the camels back with users, seeing as headphones have become a semi-permanent part of the millennial anatomy. And while five hours may seem like enough time to jam out on your morning and afternoon commute, the constant need to charge those puppies (still should have been named AirBuds) may be their downfall.
“Oh my god, no way dude?!?! That’s sick.” says every idiot who hasn’t been keeping up with the mobile phone industry for the past decade.
The first truly water resistant mobile phone was the Casio Canu 502S in 2005, but that thing was a piece of shit. More recently, one of the most successful water-resistant smartphones in the market is the Samsung Galaxy S5, released in 2014.
Water-Resistance is not new technology.
However, it has become a feature that consumers have come to expect from their mobile devices. So what we are seeing here is a rare moment where Apple is making changes to its tech to catch up to the competition.
Let’s also be clear that Water-Proof and Water-Resistant are two VERY different things. The new iPhone has earned an IPX67 rating which means the phone can “survive” full immersion in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. However, I DO NOT RECOMMEND testing this feature.
As I learned the hard way in college on a myriad of occasions….just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.
Now this is the part where I tip my cap to Apple. While I believe that they love screwing their own consumers over every chance they can, they do have a strong commitment to increasing the longevity of their phone’s battery life.
While some Apple users that are reading this may disagree, I promise that the grass is not greener on the Samsung side of the house. While iPhone’s may come up short in overall battery life, they make up for in longevity tests, meaning the total life of your battery will last longer than most competitors.
Apple has come out and said that you will have 12 hours of LTE browsing with the iPhone 7 and 14 hours with the iPhone7 Plus. To give you iPhone 6 users some reference; in a test done by a third party, the iPhone 7 lasts two hours longer than the iPhone 6S, and the iPhone 7 Plus will add an additional hour of charge to the battery life of the iPhone 6S Plus.
I wish I could get that kind of improvement in my sex life…
Into the Guts
The new iPhone models will include the new Apple A10 Fusion Mobile Processor.
Now most people don’t care too much about what’s in the phone, so for those people I will tell you that it is 40% faster than the A9 currently in use in the iPhone 6 and 6S. That is all you need…move to the next header.
For all of those nerds, like myself, this new processor is pretty damn impressive. This 64-bit, quad-core bastard utilizes the first two cores for high-performance actions and the remaining two for high-efficiency.
While this isn’t a new used model in the processor world, Apple has done a great job on differentiating between core use which has allowed for that increased battery life mentioned above.
Let me take a Selfie
One of the hallmarks of the iPhone is its usability and performance as a camera. The new iPhone 7 will continue to have the 12-megapixel camera, but it will add a larger aperture, which will allow you to keep your images steadier.
They have also incorporated a dual camera set up on the back with a 28mm wide-angle lens and a 56mm telephoto lens.
They aren’t the first mobile phone maker to incorporate this design, but previous attempts have been met with mixed reviews. Time will tell how Apple falls into the mix.
On the flip side, the front facing camera saw an upgrade as well, jumping from 5 megapixels to 7 in the new model so you can continue to take as many horrible Snapchat selfies as your doggy-faced heart desires.
The largest advancement in the camera department is with the iPhone 7 Plus which will include a 2x optical zoom. I know, I know – big whoop; all smartphone cameras allow you to zoom but this is a little different.
Most of the smartphone cameras on the market use what is called a digital zoom. That means that the lens itself does not move and instead the camera simply enlarges the pixels in each photo.
By using digital zoom you degrade the image the more you zoom. With an optical zoom you do not have this effect.
Now while you can only zoom in 2x with the new optical zoom feature, the iPhone camera allows for digital zoom to take over after 2x up to 10x, and with the new 56mm telephoto lens, you will experience drastically lower image degradation than with competitors and previous iPhones.
Now while there may not be any new features with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that blow your mind enough to have you don your New Balances and Birkenstock’s and run down to the nearest Apple Store, there are still some standout features that would make the upgrade sensible.
Firstly, if you like the touch and feel of the iPhone 6 portfolio then you are in luck because Apple did not stray far from this design. They have also added two new black finishes: a matte black look, as well as a jet black finish to the already diverse color pallet of iPhones.
Key updates include: the extended battery life, faster and more powerful processor, water-resistant body, and the updated camera.
The pitfalls, depending on how you feel about them, are the removal of the beloved audio jack and a new home button that has yet to be tested in the market.
Also, final note: as of the release of this article, Apple has already announced delays in the shipment of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus; the new black and jet black models in particular, pushing shipment dates as far back as November.
While the source of the delay can likely be chalked up to supply constraints, if two years in the computer hardware industry has taught me anything it is that initial estimates on delayed shipments are normally low-balled.
We may not see the black and jet black iPhone getting out the door and into some customers hands until early 2017. It really all depends on how hard Apple will be working those poor little Taiwanese kids.
Tuc graduated from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington in 2014 and currently lives in Raleigh, NC. His interest in technology has led him to companies such as Lenovo, SportsMedia Technologies as well as his current employer, Red Hat. In his spare time he loves playing soccer, demolishing his roommates in ping pong, and drinking. Some would say he drinks too much but he’s okay.
Tuc can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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