The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus ship on Friday, September 16, but the reviews have already begun to trickle out. Not sure whether to splash out on the new devices? Curious to learn how they’ve been received? Read on to gauge the views of some of the world’s biggest tech sites.
“The Future in Disguise”
The Verge has described the devices as “the future in disguise”, despite retaining a familiar design:
“They are full of aggressive breaks from convention while wrapped in cases that look almost exactly like their two direct predecessors. Even that continuity of design is a break from convention; after almost a decade of Apple’s steady two-year iPhone update pattern, merely retaining the same design for a third straight year plays against expectations.”
Elsewhere, it commented on Apple’s headphone jack removal, considering it indicative of Apple’s confidence in both itself and its userbase to drop old technology when it feels it’s time, but pointed towards the lack of wireless headphone bundling. The iPhone 7 ships with Lightning Earpods, with forthcoming Airpods coming with a $159 price-tag.
“It’s disappointing that Apple didn’t put more work into making wireless audio a better overall experience.”
The review also comments on the colors – noting that the much touted jet black unit might not suit all users:
“If you get a jet black model, you’ll want to get it into a case immediately — my jet black review unit scratched and scuffed almost instantly, and the only time it’s remained fingerprint-free is when we literally handled it with white gloves.”
Conclusions: The new devices are great thanks to new cameras, longer battery life, and a great update in iOS 10, but they feel incomplete due to the removal of the headphone jack and a lack of openness for third-parties to provide solutions. Essentially, the devices are for early tech adopters.
“As always, the new iPhone is a better iPhone”
Wired has noted that the latest iPhone is, of course, a step up from its predecessors in terms of performance, and that we’re reaching a “platonic ideal of a smartphone.”
“All the wildest ideas about smartphones are actually wild ideas around smartphones: hardware and software that connect to us and each other through our phones. For the smartphones themselves, there’s forever thinner, faster, stronger, and maybe curved-screenier, but that’s about it. At least, until the next world-bending material sciences breakthrough.”
However, it also noted the much improved battery life, which is able to switch between more efficient processors if you only complete simple tasks.
“That means if you don’t really game or watch high-res video on your phone, your battery life is going to be extraordinary. When I used the iPhone 7 for only simple things, I got more than 24 hours of life from the 7, and nearly 48 from the 7 Plus.”
Again, when it comes to the headphone jack, tech writers believe in the future, yet still find themselves frustrated while we live in the present.
“I’m into the idea that wireless is the future, but getting there is going to be painful and adapter-filled.”
Conclusions: The device is much improved, but the new Home button is really difficult to get used to, and the water and dust resistance isn’t going to make 6s users upgrade – but the camera might.
“There’s just one thing missing”
Ars Technica are far more concerned by the lack of a headphone jack, noting this is the first time Apple has taken something away without providing something more.
“Apple believes that wireless audio is the future, but instead of waiting for the future to get here, the company is forcing the issue. The iPhone 7 removes the standard 3.5mm audio jack in favor of audio over the Bluetooth protocol and its proprietary Lightning port. Older iPhones can do all three, but the iPhone 7 can’t.”
The review spends plenty of time wrestling with whether it’s worthwhile upgrade, and eventually settles on:
“If you understand things best when they’re phrased as tired idioms: the missing headphone jack is a fly in the iPhone 7’s ointment. Plenty of people will be happy to scoop out the fly and use the rest of the probably-fine ointment. It’s good ointment! There’s just a fly in it.”
Conclusions: However, it largely agrees with other tech sites that there are some significant upgrades here, but that it’s a “unique set of trade-offs.”
“Apple (mostly) plays it safe”
Engadget, meanwhile dwell more on the design than the headphone jack, but were still fairly positive about the minor design tweaks rather than an overhaul.
“It’s tempting to say Apple’s current design philosophy boils down to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but that’s not really true either: The company actually fixed a lot this year.”
When it comes to the headphone jack, the reviewer noted, as others had, that it’s about breaking old habits and getting over the ‘phantom headphone jack’.
Conclusions: It’s not necessarily a must-have upgrade over the 6s, but it’s still an excellent smartphone. Not necessarily groundbreaking, but they easily remain contenders for best smartphone out there.
So, it appears the majority of major tech sites are pretty sweet on the iPhone 7 – though reservedly recommend them – it appears if you’re already on the 6s, buying one won’t immediately jump to the top of your to-do list, but if it does, it’s likely to be the improved camera or battery life that does.
Anymore? Plenty – let’s take a quick look at what others have noted.
Techradar “The iPhone 7 feels iterative AGAIN, which is an odd move at this inflexion point in the company’s history. Is this because Apple knows there’s not a lot of scope left for innovation in terms of smartphone design? Or is there a big change coming further down the line – could we see the iPhone 8 next year, with all the changes we thought we might see here?”
New York Times “If [you] own an iPhone that is at least two years old, the decision is obvious: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are great upgrades. But if you just bought the iPhone 6S last year, the improvements will be incremental, and you may want to save your money for the next iPhone.”
Stuff “The iPhone 7’s modest upgrades all come together to make a much more significant whole than you’d expect; in typically Apple fashion, the whole experience is just so polished… Losing the headphone port, though? That’s going to sting for a while.”
Forbes “Would I upgrade from the iPhone 6S Plus to the iPhone 7 Plus? No. In fact it isn’t certain I’d upgrade from the iPhone 6 Plus to the iPhone 7 Plus. That said iPhone 7 Plus owners are likely to find just enough this year to keep them happy.”
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus ship from September 16 – they’re currently available to pre-order at Apple.com – here’s how.
The new devices will also make use of iOS 10, which is a free software upgrade available to all users with an iPhone 5 and later right now. Here’s what’s inside, and how to upgrade.