Apple has been in a tick-tock pattern with the iPhone for a long time, first introducing a new design and then refining and enhancing it with an "S" version the next year. Now, with the iPhone 7, Apple is breaking up the monotony with... the absence of a headphone jack.
So yes, the most memorable feature of the iPhone 7 has provoked something of an outcry. But let's take a look at what was announced, what Apple added to its flagship device, and if the pros outweigh the cons.
Wireless: There's no way around it, the loss of the ubiquitous 3.5mm headphone jack is a tough thing to get over. Maybe you use it all the time to listen to music on a special set of headphones or you're just concerned it won't be there in the off chance you need to plug your phone into wired speakers.
Apple is evidently hoping the new, completely wireless AirPods will help you get over that anxiety. With five hours of battery life, each set of wireless ear buds will also come with a charging case which provides an extra 24 hours of battery life before it, too, needs to be recharged. Because the AirPods use Apple's W1 wireless chip inside, they will also be easy to use; the pairing process just means being near an iPhone and tapping "connect."
But, bafflingly, the next iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will not automatically include these nifty new devices. Instead, iPhone 7s will include wired EarPods that connect to the phone's Lightning port, as well as an adapter to connect any old headphones you have lying around. If you want the AirPods, you'll have to shell out an additional $159 when they're released in October. That's not the end of world, but it's worth keeping in mind.
Camera: While there are plenty of new and enhanced features on the iPhone 7, your decision to upgrade will likely hinge on how important a good camera is to you. The iPhone 7 gets a nice improvement over its predecessor with a wider F1.8 aperture, image stabilization, and bigger image sensor, all of which will help the photos you take look even better.
The real leap forward, however, is the dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus, the larger, more expensive version of the new device. It features the same 12MP wide-angle lens as the standard iPhone 7, along with a second 12MP telephoto lens right next to it. The two lenses allow for twice the optical zoom and even better digital zoom.
But there's a drawback. Because the major improvement to the camera is unique to the larger iPhone 7 Plus, you'll only get the camera if you're willing to lug around a bigger device.
Water-resistant: Even though iPhones have gradually been getting more water resistant for splashes, the iPhone 7 now has an official IP67 water resistance rating, meaning it can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes and continue to operate normally.
Is this so you can go swimming with your phone? Probably not, but if you accidentally do, it likely won't be a $700 mistake.
Increased storage: The iPhone 7 will raise the minimum storage from 16GB to 32GB and have 128GB and 256GB options too. There's not much to say about this, except to sigh and mutter "finally."
New colors: Changing the available colors the iPhone comes in may or may not be a feature depending on who you ask. Even so, it makes an upgrade slightly more attractive. The big additions are "black" (not "space grey") and "jet black" (glossy), which are available for the 128GB and 256GB iPhone 7s.
Miscellaneous: While they aren't blockbuster features, these are some nice additions for those already convinced to upgrade:
- The screen now supports a wider color gamut, making the photos you take with the new camera pop.
- There are now stereo speakers which make the iPhone twice as loud as before.
- The iPhone 7 is also blazing fast on paper. While this is more a standard expectation than a real selling point, who doesn't want a faster smartphone?
While a new iPhone might have been a no brainer in years past, there are clearly a few reasons people might not jump to upgrade to the iPhone 7. Overall, though, this new phone has some amazing and really desirable features. If nothing else, the iPhone 7 Plus is basically an incredible point-and-shoot camera with a phone app attached. If that sounds appealing, take the plunge.