Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
The iPhone 7 and its larger Plus-sized sibling is finally here. After months of speculation and rumors, Apple has unveiled its two newest flagship smartphones at a press event in San Francisco. And surprise, surprise: many of the leaks turned out to be true after all.
The launch also signals the official release date for iOS 10. Apple’s latest major revision of its mobile operating system will be available worldwide on September 13. Pre-orders for the new smartphones start on September 9 at $649 for the regular model and $769 for the Plus.
We’ll have a full review soon, but for now, here are all the new features.
It Looks Like the iPhone 6
The iPhone 7 breaks with Apple’s two-year major revision convention, signalling a more radical redesign next time round. Both the standard and plus models look like their predecessors, with the same rounded aluminium chassis, elongated volume rockers, and a camera that protrudes slightly. This is a good thing if you want to use your old case, which will cover up much of the work the company has put into the design anyway.
Both new models are slightly lighter than the previous model, at 138 and 188 grams for the standard and larger model respectively. You can also now get the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in two darker shades: glossy jet black, and matte black, signalling the end of the space gray option.
There are a few other small changes, like the lack of antenna bands on the device’s rear (the ones on the top and bottom still remain). Previous models had a small plastic band at the top and bottom, but advancements in radio technology have enabled the company to get rid of this in favour of a “solid” aluminium back.
There’s No Headphone Jack
As predicted, both models of iPhone 7 have ditched the headphone jack, which means you won’t be able to plug your 3.5mm stereo jacks into your new iPhone without the use of an adapter. The iPhone 7 will ship with purpose-built Lightning EarPods, which will likely sound just as mediocre as the last pair. You’ll also get a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter in the box for use with standard earphones, but it looks like you won’t be able to charge and output sound simultaneously.
Bluetooth is always an option, and the company is launching first-party wireless earphones called AirPods in late October. They sound pretty smart and come with a case that charges them, one-tap setup, a dedicated W1 chip inside, automatic voice detection, and they know when you put them into your ears or take them out.
Ditching the 3.5mm jack moves the audio wizardry outside of the device and into the hands of third parties, and you can expect to see plenty of headphone manufacturers jumping on the audio-over-Lightning and wireless bandwagon before long. While a lot of the internet is focusing on the negative aspect, there are positives too — the iPhone 7 and Plus model are twice as loud as the previous models thanks to a new stereo speaker at the top of the device (and ditching the headphone jack likely provides more space inside the unit for enhancements to battery life too).
Another reason Apple may have removed your stereo jack is…
It’s Waterproof (Kind Of)
Apple is late to the party when it comes to waterproofing, something manufacturers like Sony and Samsung have been toying with for a while (to varying degrees of success). The new iPhone finally gets the waterproofing treatment, and is water resistant in accordance with the IP67 standard. The International Electrotechnical Commission who came up with the ratings note that the “ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1m of submersion)”.
That basically means you can submerge the new iPhones to a depth of a meter for 30 minutes, and they should be fine — just like the Apple Watch. Both devices are safeguarded against washing your hands or taking a shower, but not so great when it comes to full submersion or activities like swimming.
The Home Button Is Pressure-Sensitive
3D Touch was last year’s big deal, adding a whole new input command to the iPhone that lets you look at links without opening them and skip straight to app features from the icon. This year the same technology has made it into the home button, which is sensitive to pressure while still being able to scan your fingerprint for TouchID.
Haptic technology has been added to provide feedback as if the user were pressing a real button, which is technically not a mechanical button any more but a pressure sensitive interface. The Taptic engine provides similar feedback to existing “clicky” home buttons on older iPhones, and in theory this should make the home button less prone to failure.
New Cameras (Two of Them)
The iPhone is the world’s most popular camera (according to Flickr’s camera finder, anyway) and there are now two “tiers” of iPhone camera to choose from. The regular iPhone 7 has an improved 12MP sensor that uses the same optical image stabilization found in the previous Plus models. There’s also a wider aperture of f/1.8 which allows you to capture more light and a shallower depth of field.
The iPhone 7 Plus further cements its position as the premium photographer’s smartphone with not one but two lenses, offering the same performance as the regular model plus a true 2x optical zoom. Apple is also promising a brand new depth of field effect that takes advantage of both cameras to add more bokeh to your images via a software update that’s “coming soon.”
Both models also feature a Quad-LED True Tone flash, which means 50% brighter flash performance over the iPhone 6s and the same skin-tone balancing technology we’ve been used to since the iPhone 5s. There’s also an improve image signal processor built into the new A10 system-on-chip, which should result in better overall photo quality, faster autofocus, and improved tone mapping and white balance.
It’s Faster & More Efficient
Probably the most predictable new feature is a new system-on-chip (SoC) in the form of the A10 Fusion. The processor is supposedly 40% faster than the A9 found in the iPhone 6s and SE, and twice as fast as the iPhone 6. We won’t know how much RAM is in each iPhone until someone rips them apart and takes a look for themselves, but many expect the iPhone 7 to have the same 2GB of RAM found in the iPhone SE, while the 7 Plus is expected to need 3GB to get the most out of that improved dual-lens camera.
As is the case with most new processors, increased efficiency means better battery life. The iPhone 7 can supposedly run for a whole two hours longer than the 6s, while the Plus model offers an extra hour of talk time.
And of course, there’s the usual boring list of cellular and wireless advancements in this model that you’d expect from any new smartphone: up to 450 megabit per second LTE (twice the speed of the 6s) on 25 bands, plus a new iOS feature (coming to all iOS devices) that makes third party VoIP calls from services like WhatsApp and Skype appear as if they’re “real” phone calls rather than easy-to-miss notifications.
A Slightly Improved Screen
The 9.7″ iPad Pro introduced a “new” Retina HD display which looks noticeably better than previous models, but probably wasn’t enough on its own to justify any sort of upgrade. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus now also make use of this technology, with a wider color gamut and a brightness boost of 25%.
Unfortunately there’s still no sign of OLED displays (like the one found on the Apple Watch) which are known for their darker blacks and increased power efficiency.
Storage Starts at 32 GB
With features like 4K video and Live Photos, the iPhone 6s was too limited with only 16 GB of storage. Apple has fixed that with this latest release, and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus both have a minimum of 32 GB storage.
You can still buy a 16 GB iPhone if you want, but it’ll have to be the smaller and cheaper iPhone SE. Other capacities include 128 GB and 256 GB.
Will you be buying an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus? Let us know in the comments, below!