The iPhone 7 is arguably a stop gap, Apple no doubt has something special planned for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary this year. That aside, I’ve had my iPhone 7 for over a month now and whilst my initial reservations about upgrading remain, overall the new iPhone impresses.
The removal of the physical home button, from the front of the iPhone 7 is a notable change from predecessors. I know how upset some folks can get about that sort of thing, but the haptic feedback of the new integrated home button is great. 3D Touch also benefits from subtle variations now too: the harder you press the iPhone’s screen, the bigger the tap.
The changes to the home button were in part due to the effort of making the iPhone 7 ‘water‑resistant’. Not being inclined to taking photos in the bath, this wasn’t a feature of Apple’s new phone that had me clamouring to upgrade.
During day-to-day use, I’ve not noticed a dramatic difference in performance between the iPhone 7 Plus vs. the iPhone 6S Plus. I have noticed considerable and very welcome battery life improvements. I’m no longer clamouring for a charger at the end of every day. It’s not unusual for my heavily used iPhone 7 Plus to go well into the evening without needing a charge. Such a difference, my iPhone 6 Plus seemed to be permanently tethered to a wall.
In truth, this update is all about the cameras. The front facing or “selfie” camera of the iPhone 7 is much improved to 7 megapixel. The real show stopper though is the rear facing 12 megapixel wide-angle camera, twinned with the 12 megapixel telephoto camera, (featured only by the iPhone 7 Plus).
Either the 12MP wide-angle camera or the 12MP telephoto camera can be selected when taking a normal photo. This enables iPhone 7 Plus to switch between a wide-angle or telephoto shot. It’s when the two are combined, producing a portrait photo that things get really interesting.
Shots taken using iPhone 7 Plus’ new portrait mode are excellent. Imagine photos taken with a decent SLR, by somebody who knows how to properly compose a photo. Stick a portrait photo up on Photo Stream and wait for all the comments from friends.
The portrait photos feature is still in beta, (as of iOS 10.2), and there are some issues. Forget about taking a portrait photo in low light, even when conditions are perfect it’s all a bit “back a bit”, “forward a bit”, before the all-important yellow “Depth Effect” label appears. There’s also noticeable lag between tapping the button to take a portrait photo and the photo actually being taken. This can create some blurry shots.
Criticism aside, when you get a portrait right it really is a WOW moment. The iPhone 7’s brighter, more colourful screen gamut combines with the improved cameras to really make the photos “pop”.
So is it worth upgrading to an iPhone 7? All the fundamental elements of the iPhone 6 have been incrementally improved: speakers, (louder and stereo), battery, screen, audio and performance. This feels like an “S” update: a perfected iPhone 6S, something to get once your current phone loses its lustre but not something to rush out and buy.
However, the iPhone 7 Plus is a different story. The update to the battery makes this iPhone far more appealing than its predecessor – the hassle of constantly charging my iPhone 6 Plus was a drag. But unsurprisingly it’s the update to the camera and portrait photos, that means a month on I’m still loving my new iPhone.
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