Apple has just unveiled the new iPhone 7. It looks pretty cool, specifically because of its great jet black finish. The other colours, black, silver, gold and rose gold look like last year’s news compared to it. Of course it’s got the textbook improvements like faster performance and sleeker design but by introducing some great design changes, most of which were predicted much before the product launch, Apple has made the iPhone cool again.
Colour & Design
As soon as the first image of the iPhone 7 came on screen, it showed off the dual lens camera. It looked like the face of Eva from WALL-E staring back at you. The first thing we got after that was Jony Ive in his awe-inspiring voice introducing “the best iPhone (they’ve) ever made”. He talked about the high gloss finish and anodized body that added a protective oxide layer to the surface of the phone. He spoke highly of the jet black colour which has been absent from the iPhone for a few years now. Black always looks cooler on a device than white or grey or “space grey” as Apple calls it. The apple logo on the jet black iPhone is stainless steel by the way. Space grey is now known as just “black” and gold, rose gold and silver all accompany it. Surprisingly, there was no talk of making the iPhone thinner or lighter. Which made the whole affair much more pleasant and fresh.
The home button, as expected, was redesigned. It now has haptic feedback or “taptic feedback” from Apple’s taptic engine chip. It’s a solid state button that performs all the actions of the old home button without the mechanical button. Phil Schiller highlighted how Apple had previously replaced the iPod clickwheel with an electrostatic wheel so this was nothing new.
Water & Dust Resistance
The iPhone 7 is certified IP67 for water anddust resistance. Nothing surprising there. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have an IP68 rating. The first digit specifies the dust resistance level, the second the water resistance level.
This is what really blew me away. Apple’s camera is one of the best in the business and they’ve really stepped up their game this time. There’s a new six element lens with a f/1.8 aperture that allows 50% more light in and a trutone flash with 4 LEDs. There’s a new 12 megapixel image sensor that is 60% faster and 40% more efficient. There’s even a flicker sensor to account for the difference in lighting due to artificial light. There’s an optical image stabilizer that also works for the front facing 7 megapixel facetime camera and for live photos.
As a little footnote, Phil Schiller also mentioned that the camera can do 100 billion calculations for each photograph in 25 ms. He then showed off some quotes from photographers praising the camera for its colour capture and depth sensing capabilities (basically great focus that blurs things in the background). This update comes out free to iPhone 7 Plus users later this year. That’s because the depth mapping feature is only for the dual lens camera. Yes, that’s right.
The dual lens camera only makes an appearance on the iPhone 7 Plus. No dual lens for the 7 users, sorry. The first lens is a wide angle lens while the second is a 56 mm telephoto lens that allows for mechanical zoom like that of a DSLR camera. The zoom can go up to 2x after which software zoom is applied till 10x. This produces greater quality zoomed photos.
Users can now edit live photos, get original DNG files from the camera. Good things all around the board for the camera.
No More Headphone Jack
The most talked about rumour for the iPhone 7 was the removal of the headphone jack. So of course it happened. Phil Schiller said in his presentation that the analogue headphone jack had been around for a century. It was time to move on, and it took courage to do that. This is true, not many phones have eliminated the headphone jack. But now that Apple has, it maybe a short step for others. Other reasons to eliminate the jack were space constraints (we’ll get in to that later) and that the lightning port delivered better sound.
New lightning port headphones were revealed along with wireless “AirPods”. The latter have sensors to know when you’ve put them on so they can play when needed. The AirPods also have beam forming microphones to detect the best voice quality during phone calls. They can intelligently switch between your iPhone, Apple Watch and Macbook using iCloud. All you need to set them up is bring them close to an iPhone and tap “Connect” on the window that comes up. They contain the W1 Apple chip which enables their great performance. They cost a whopping $159 and last for 5 hours at a time. They come with a charging case that can provide 24 hours of battery life on a single charge. They release in late October.
Incidentally Apple is also releasing 3 new beats audio wireless headphones powered by the W1 chip. They are, the Solo3 wireless, the Powerbeats3 wireless and the BeatsX wireless. All have a 40 hour battery life.
Also, with the headphone jack removed, Apple installed a new speaker, introducing stereo speakers for the first time in the iPhone.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are powered by the A10 fusion chip. It has four cores, two for high performance and two for efficiency. The former are 40% faster than the A9 chip. The high efficiency cores consume 1/5th the power of the A10 chip. There’s a performance controller to intelligently switch between core pairs depending on the task. The hexa core GPU is 50% faster than the old A9 GPU. All this amounts to a better battery life on the phone and on average a 2 hour edge for the iPhone 7 over the 6S and a 1 hour edge for the 7 Plus over the 6S Plus. The new iPhone also supports LTE up to 450 Mbps.
The storage options are 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB. The jet black iPhone 7 and 7 Plus only comes with the latter two storage options. The iPhone 7 starts at $649 and the 7 Plus, at $769.
All in all, miles better than the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.