It’s that magical time of year again. The time where Apple graces us with their latest Jesus phone and sets the tech world on its ear. The release of the iPhone 7 couldn’t have come at a better time, as Samsung is currently embattled in a PR nightmare over their Galaxy Note 7. Samsung issued a voluntary global recall of the Note 7 after several customers complained of the device exploding while charging. Taking the high road, Apple never took a shot at Samsung during their press conference, they instead focused on everything new with iPhone.
Verizon Wireless hooked me up with a review unit, which ironically arrived the very day the iPhone 7 launched. Seeing the phones at Apple’s press conference pales in comparison to actually using one firsthand, and I have to admit, I was really impressed with the build quality of the phone. The black iPhone 7 I’d received may have been the best looking one in my opinion. I was hoping for a Jet Black model, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t get it because I’ve heard nightmare stories of them scratching amazingly easy. The Black iPhone 7 looked great, and although it doesn’t deviate too drastically from the design of the 6 and 6S, the changes are definitely noticeable. For starters, the curve of the screen perfectly slopes into the aluminum body of the phone, making the phone look like it’s one single piece of glass and metal. The new home button is really weird initially, and takes a bit of getting used to. It works more like a trackpad on one of the new Macbook and less like the home buttons we’re accustomed to. Apple accomplished this by employing a new haptic engine, that responds to the specific pressure of a press instead of the action of a press. This adds the possibility of more functionality mappable to that home button, which Apple has yet to roll out.
Apple also updated the look of the back of the phone, to make it appear cleaner and more modern. The camera hump has been slightly raised, but rounded out to match the overall shape of the housing. The antenna lines are relocated towards the top of the phone, and are now almost invisible, blending in perfectly against the deeper black color of the iPhone. Let’s address the obvious elephant in the room: the lack of a headphone jack. For most Apple users, this isn’t a huge deal, but as one who uses headphones frequently, the sudden absence of a standard headphone jack is a shock to the system. In addition to basically having to use a dongle to use any of my existing headphones, OR if I simply wanted to use headphones while my device is charging. While this isn’t a tremendous deal breaker by any means, it is wildly inconvenient. Apple also added stereo sound to the iPhone 7, but they accomplished it in a very unique way. They stuck with a single, bottom-firing speaker, but also re-routes the audio into the earpiece which acts as a secondary speaker. The produced sound is decent, but I wonder what the long-term effects of consistently loud audio on that earpiece will be.
The iPhone 7 is definitely Apple’s most ambitious device yet. With the launch of the 7 and 7 Plus, Apple is slowly pulling the curtain back from the company’s future and the direction their devices are headed in. The biggest focal point in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus has been the new and improved cameras that are turning heads in the photography industry. Apple developed the new cameras in the 7 and 7 Plus to go toe-to-toe with some of the better DSLR cameras on the market. That’s a pretty ambitious goal, but one Apple seems intent on accomplishing. Both phones pack a powerful 12MP camera, capable of taking some of the most awesome photos I’ve seen on a smartphone, period. The iPhone 7 does the job, and does it well, while the 7 Plus excels with taking better photos where distance is a challenge. The 7 Plus sports both a wide-angle camera and a secondary telephoto camera that supports up to 10X digital zoom. Both phones also have Optical Image Stabilization, which means less blurry photos and more stable videos.
As we rely on our devices more and more daily, the durability of these devices become more important. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are also natively water-resistant, and that is a major bonus. While I wouldn’t suggest trying to capture photos underwater or anything like that, fretting over getting caught in a downpour or worrying about spilling something on your device are things of the past. In my tests, I spilled an entire glass of water onto my iPhone 7 review unit and let it set there for about a minute, and the phone was fine. In fact, the only issue I had, was using Touch ID with wet fingers. Drops are still a major concern though, as the screen is still very much susceptible to cracks.
I used a Verizon iPhone 7 for almost a month and as expected, the network performance was great. Calls were clean and crisp, and data speeds were consistently fast.
Once upon a time, I was a huge fan of the iPhone. I’ve since switched sides due to what I felt was stagnation and lack of innovation coming from Cupertino. After using the iPhone 7 for a while, I fully understand why Apple users love their iPhones. They are amongst the top smartphone experiences available today, and they just flat-out work well. Depending on how Google’s Pixel phones turn out, there’s a slight chance that Apple may have reconverted a converter. But we’ll save that for another review.