Here they are: the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Officially unveiled merely a month ago, Apple’s latest smartphones are now available in Malaysia. Although nothing much has changed on the outside, the inside of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is a completely different story: they’re packed with Apple’s latest and greatest hardware.
That being said, are the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus worthy upgrades over their predecessors? Well, that depends on who you’re asking, but what’s for certain is: these are definitely the best iPhones to date.
Design-wise, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus do not differ that much from their predecessors. Sure, the plastic antenna lines have been redesigned, and there are two new colours now: Jet Black and good ol’ Black in matte finish. As many have reported, the Jet Black model are very prone to scratches; it also picks up fingerprints very easily. The Black model, on the other hand, is my personal favourite: it looks particularly sleek and unique, thanks to the matte finish.
One of the most touted features of the new iPhones are their displays, which are said to be 25% brighter and has a wider colour gamut now; DisplayMate seems to agree with Apple in this regard. Honestly, I can’t tell if the displays of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus improved in any way – the displays have the same resolution as last year’s models, after all.
However, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus definitely have impressive LCD displays: they’re bright, vibrant, and they look plenty sharp. This is despite the fact that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have 1334 x 750 and 1920 x 1080 resolution displays respectively, which pale in comparison to many other high-end Android smartphones.
Aside from their displays, the home button of the new iPhone 7s has also been revamped: it is now a static, pressure-sensitive button. This new home button works in a similar way to Apple’s Force Touch trackpad, which is found on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the new MacBook.
Using what Apple refers to as “taptic engine,” a click is simulated whenever users apply enough pressure to the new home button. While this mimics a click wonderfully on the Force Touch trackpad, the same cannot be said with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ home button. Whenever I press down on it, it’s as if the whole bottom of the device – instead of just the button – is providing haptic feedback, which does not feel natural at all.
Moving on, I was particularly pessimistic of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ stereo speakers – the earpiece acts as the second speaker – when it was initially introduced. Many other Android devices have done a similar setup before, and most of them – bar HTC’s legendary BoomSound system – are average, at best.
To my surprise, however, both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ set of stereo speakers are loud. At maximum volume, I can hear what’s happening in the game with no issue at all; the audio quality seems to pretty impressive as well, although I can’t say this with certainty yet. (Context: I was in Celcom Blue Cube’s retail store while I was testing these phones out. There were a lot of ambient noise, so it’s hard to judge the audio quality.)
Speaking of games, the A10 Fusion chip powering the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is very promising. I played a few different titles with both devices, and they hardly struggle to run the different games smoothly. While this can be attributed to how well-optimised iOS is, there’s no denying that the A10 Fusion is a very capable processor.
Then we have the much talked about cameras of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus; in particular, the latter, which has a dual-camera system. Apple’s take on the dual-camera setup is rather interesting: instead of combining images taken with both sensors into one image (like the Huawei P9 and honor 8), the iPhone 7 Plus is packed with a 12MP wide-angle sensor and another 12MP telephoto sensor.
Thanks to this unique camera configuration, the iPhone 7 Plus can perform a 2x optical zoom by switching between the wide-angle sensor to the telephoto one. In my testing, the 7 Plus switches between these two sensors very quickly, which is pretty impressive.
Unfortunately, I can’t say much about the camera performance of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus based on my brief time with both phones, but they do show a lot of promises. Images I took with both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus look good when viewed from the respective phones, and the overall shooting experience is smooth and intuitive; qualities often associated with iPhones. However, I didn’t quite like the slight shutter delay in between shots: this delay was present even when I switched off Live Photos mode.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus may look a lot like their predecessors, but they offer genuinely useful performance improvements. While I’m not fond of the new pressure-sensitive home button (and of course, the lack of a headphone jack), I am genuinely excited with the phones’ fast processor, improved camera, and the very loud set of stereo speakers.
However, I still personally think that the impressive hardware of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus do not justify their hefty price tags. With the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus retailing from RM3,199 and 3,799 respectively, they’re very costly devices; those who opt to get the most affordable models are also stuck with only 32GB of storage.
But people will still purchase the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It could be because these two smartphones are seen as status indicators, or maybe because some folks genuinely appreciate the iPhones’ feature set. Whichever the case may be, there’s no denying that this year’s iPhones – no matter how incremental the improvements may seem like – are the best iPhones yet.