iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus First Impressions

iPhone 7 Plus - Back - Camera - rear facing camera

You probably know everything about the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and the recent teardown of the new iPhones seems to have confirmed the other unknowns such as the amount of RAM and capacity of the battery.

But here are my first impressions and some interesting details about the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus I thought were worth sharing.

Design

One of the things that I wasn’t too fond of the thick white antenna bands on the iPhone 6/iPhone 6s. Thankfully in the third iteration of the same design, Apple has figured out a way to conceal them nicely by moving them to the edge of the casing and introducing two new dark colors. The matte black iPhone 7 come with black antenna bands, so it almost disappears in the casing.

iPhone 7 Plus - Back - Camera - rear facing camera

The feel of the matte black iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is similar to my gold iPhone 6s Plus. It seems like it comes with a similar aluminum finish as last year’s model. Apple doesn’t seem to have improved the grip like it did last year with the iPhone 6s/6s Plus.

The iPhone 7 weighs 138 grams and iPhone 7 Plus weighs 188 grams, which is marginally lighter than the iPhone 6s (143 grams) and iPhone 6s Plus (192 grams). So you don’t feel any difference.

The casing for the camera bump feels like it is chiseled from the same block of aluminum used for the back casing. It is amazing how Apple keeps tweaking the design to make it better ever year.

All-New Home Button

Next up was to figure out how the all-new Force Touch Home button would work. I was curious and nervous at the same time, as I have read both positive and negative reactions to it. After using it briefly, I must admit I miss the physical Home button. I was expecting it to be like the Force Touch Magic Trackpad 2 or the Force Touch trackpad in the new MacBooks, but that is not the case. It doesn’t feel like you’re clicking the button. It feels like the click is happening inside the iPhone rather than the surface of the Home button as I expected. It’s a little weird. It is definitely not as good as the taptic feedback you get with the Force Touch trackpads. I also noticed that you can’t use nails to double press the Home button now. I would do use the nails to press the Home button if my fingers were soiled.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Unboxing

I think I will get used to it in a few days. During the setup process, you now have a new option to set up the new Home button. You can choose from three options: low (1), medium (2) and high (3). I didn’t like the low option. The  medium option which is the default option was alright, but I was the most comfortable with the setting at 3.

iPhone 7 Home Button Setting

 

I think Apple is secretly preparing us for the 2017 iPhone which is rumored to come without the Home button. The Force Touch Home button also reduces the wear and tear and hopefully addresses the misconception at least for people in Asia who use the Assistive Touch feature, because they’re worried that the Home button will malfunction. It probably also helped with the waterproofing feature.

Performance

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are powered by Apple’s new quad-core A10 Fusion processor, which as per Geekbench benchmarks is blazing fast. The single-core performance is twice as fast as any Android phone, and faster than most MacBook Airs.

In terms of real world performance, I couldn’t see much of a difference in things like launching apps etc. However, web pages loaded significantly faster on the iPhone 7 Plus compared to my iPhone 6s Plus.

Cameras

I didn’t get enough time to test the camera. I plan to leave it to Steve who is an expert when it comes to smartphone cameras and is already working on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus reviews. But the below side-by-side comparison of photos taken using the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus left me impressed. As you can see, you don’t see the unusual dispersion of the light around the lamp on the far side in the photo taken using the iPhone 7 Plus, like you see in the photo taken using the iPhone 6s Plus.

iPhone 6s Plus - Sample Photo

iPhone 6s Plus (Follow this link for the original uncropped version of the image)

iPhone 7 Plus - Sample Photo

iPhone 7 Plus (Follow this link for the original uncropped version of the image)

iPhone 7 Plus comes with a second “telephoto” camera that has a 56 mm focal length, which allows you to zoom in up to 2x optical zoom or 10x digital zoom while taking photos and up to 6x while taking videos. The new zoom functionality is quite intuitive and works very well. The Camera app defaults to 1x zoom when you launch it. A tap on the 1x button takes you to 2x zoom, and then all the way through 10x zoom in one continuous motion by grabbing and sliding the zoom icons along a scale.

Stereo Speakers

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus come with stereo speakers, but second speaker is not at the bottom, even though the new iPhones have a grille at the bottom where the headphone jack used to be. The earpiece for phone calls now doubles up as an audio speaker to create the stereo sound. The placing of the speakers is quite weird, but they work great. The stereo speakers are much louder than the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

No Headphone Jack

iPhone 7 Plus - Speakers - bottom

So let us finally talk about the elephant in the room, Apple’s decision to get rid of the headphone jack. The only time I see it could be a problem is when you want to charge your iPhone and listen to music at the same time. But quite frankly, I haven’t ever done that, so personally, I don’t think it is such a big deal. The only time I use headphones is when I am on the move, and prefer wireless headphones over the wired ones. I agree with Apple that the future is indeed wireless. I think people will feel the pain for a year or two, by which time I expect Apple to start bundling wireless headphones, maybe even the AirPods with the iPhones.

Other Interesting details

  • iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus comes pre-installed with iOS 10 (build number: 14A346). You need to install iOS 10.0.1 which includes bug fixes and improvements.
  • 128 GB iPhone 7 Plus reports capacity as 121.78 GB, with 116.22 GB available, whereas the 128GB iPhone 7 reports capacity as 121.97 GB, with 116.85 GB available.
  • The Geekbench 4.0 app (iTunes link) confirms iPhone 7 comes with a 2.31 GHz A10 Fusion chip with 2GB RAM and iPhone 7 Plus comes with a 2.31 GHz A10 Fusion chip with 3GB RAM. iPhone 6s is powered by a 1.84 GHz A9 chip with 2GB RAM and iPhone 6s Plus is powered by a 1.85 GHz A9 chip with 2GB RAM.
  • The iPhone 7 got a single-core score of 3425 and iPhone 7 Plus got a single-core score of 3462. They got a multi-core score of 5535 and 5595 respectively, making them significantly faster than the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which got a single-core score of 2510 and 2525, and multi-core score of 4360 and 4408 (higher scores are better). The most important aspect of the A10 chip CPU is it comes with two high‑performance cores and two high‑efficiency cores. Apple has said that the high-performance cores of the A10 Fusion chip that powers iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus can run 2x the speed of the iPhone 6, and high‑efficiency cores are capable of running at just one-fifth the power of the high‑performance cores, which has helped in extending battery life by up to two more hours on iPhone 7 and up to one more hour on iPhone 7 Plus.
iPhone 7 Plus Geekbench Benchmark scores
  • The new iPhones come with improved Taptic engine. It feels as if Apple has brought the brilliant taptic engine of the Apple Watch to the new iPhones. To get a good a feel of the improved Taptic engine just set an alarm. Or try picking a time in the Alarm clock, as John Gruber of Daring Fireball had pointed out the spinner control feels like a real spinner.

I will update the post if I find anything interesting worth sharing. Let me know if find anything interesting in the comments below. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments.

Don’t forget to check out our iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus unboxing photos.