Tuesday 27 December 2016

iPhone 7

Another year, another iPhone from Apple. Let’s take a quick look at it, and don’t worry non-techies – I will use small words! Funnily enough like almost all phone reviews, I’m not going to delve into the actual phone features – but don’t worry, texts and calls work a treat with a Nano-SIM. What a relief! Promising advanced new camera systems, the best performance and battery life ever in an iPhone, immersive stereo speakers, the brightest, most colourful display yet and splash and water resistance, does iPhone 7 deliver? Or is it just more of the same?

Design & Hardware
Let’s start with….that. You know what I’m talking about. The iPhone 7 does not have a 3.5mm earphone jack. The fuckers have removed it, meaning all earphones now must go through the lightning port. But settle down, Apple-haters! If you want to use your trusty old earphones, or ya Beats bruv, don’t panic. Apple have kindly included a nifty adapter. Isn’t that nice of them, including a fix for their own stupid design. And of course, you get a pair of Apple’s rather average sound-quality lightning EarPods in the box. Most people these days are using Bluetooth headphones but still, this was a stupid idea and will go down in history as such. But hey, they’ll learn from it. They won’t do it again. Like, they won’t remove old-school USB from the new MacBook or anything. They’re not idiots…
The first thing iPhone enthusiasts will notice is that, besides the earphone jack-lack, the design is largely unchanged from the 6 and 6s. It’s now available in black and jet black for all you dark souls out there, along with the 6s rose gold, gold and silver from last year. It’s a nice solid build, and of course again it’s a closed unit so no expanding the memory or changing battery, which is standard with iPhones of course. With a weight of 138g, it finds itself 5g lighter than the 6s. Good for you, iPhone 7. We knew you could do it – now maintain a healthy diet, and keep that weight off. The handset is now waterproof too, up to 1m deep for up to 30 minutes. That means all you toilet-phone droppers can relax. This baby can take it. It even encourages it. “Drop me in the toilet”, it says. Dirty bugger.
Switch the little guy on and you won’t exactly be blown away by any advancements the LED-backlit screen may have had. If you’ve used any high-end phone from the last couple of years, you know exactly what you’re in for. Still, it’s technically better than the 6 and 6s, so…boom. Take that, 6 and 6s. Colours are vibrant, lines are sharp – if you’re the sort of person who likes to watch a lot of videos on your phone, you’ll be happy. HD videos look nice on this Retina display. The pixel resolution sits pretty at 1334x750 at 326 ppi, for anyone interested in that sort of thing…Not me! I’m a caveman. I’m more like “SCREEN GOOD”. And the 4.7” screen means the handset isn’t uncomfortably large like some others on the market, and only requires one hand to use so you’ll have your other hand free for innocent pursuits.
The iPhone 7 boasts Apple’s latest processor the A10 Fusion which has four processing cores split into two pairs – one a high-performance pair of cores, the other a pair of energy efficient cores. The idea behind this is simple – most of the time, only one pair will be required to run the phone, which should theoretically extend battery life without sacrificing performance. The high-performance pair handle your big apps, gaming and photo-processing, while the energy-efficient pair handles your texting and emailing. This processor is a beaut, the phone runs like a charm and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. It feels fast and smooth…
Until the battery dies, which unfortunately, isn’t as uncommon as you’d probably like. This is an iPhone though, and so we’re kind of used to this. So, the iPhone 7 may look pretty, it may have a nice processor and it may come with 32GB-256GB for loads of music and films – but this is all irrelevant when, even now on their 7th main model, Apple can’t even make a phone that gets through the day. This weak little guy will need a lot of charging, and because of the silly earphone jack removal, you can forget listening to your music in private while the phone is getting its beauty charge. How silly.
But it’s not all bad. The iPhone 7’s changed home button is rather nice. The fingerprint scanner, or let’s face it, thumbprint scanner, is the same – but now, rather than pushing a button here it’s a pressure sensitive pad – pushing it feels like the whole bottom end of the phone depresses…Apple first used this technology on the MacBook’s solid-state trackpad – it didn’t move but the Taptic Engine made it feel that way. The Taptic Engine here, for home button feedback and other things such scrolling the timer wheel is a charming little feature. It’s worth noting the home button does require skin contact to work, though – so gloves are a no no, which is a pain as the home button has to be activated to even unlock the phone. Not the best phone for the winter, perhaps!
It just wouldn’t be a new iPhone without a new iOS. iOS 10 is here with subtle yet significant changes to the software, mainly where notifications and widgets are concerned. This all offers an increased feeling of connectivity, and improves the ease of use. There isn’t a huge amount to say where this is concerned – it’s still very much iOS, and so anybody with the slightest bit of familiarity with the operating system will know it back-to-front. AirDrop, AirPlay, AirPrint, Handoff, HomeKit, iCloud, etc. – the gang is all there.
We’re getting there folks…almost done. Next up, the camera! Here, we have an improvement of the 6s. It’s faster and brighter with optical image stabilisation for a sharper result. The 12MP rear-facer isn’t the best on the market but is still pretty sexy, especially with 30fps 4K video recording. The front-facing 7MP selfie camera is one of the best out there. Beautiful. Those double-chinned selfies look even more grotesque with such a high resolution. I should know.

So with all that said, what’s our verdict? Apple lovers – I know you’re out there – will adore the iPhone 7 no matter what. But honestly, this could’ve been better. The camera, the home button, the OS, the performance, the screen, the waterproofing, the solid build itself = all great. Not “wow” great, but great. I’ve no major complaints. The earphone jack scandal, ehhh, it’s a rather stupid and very Apple decision but we can get over it. Although small and easy to lose, an adapter is included so we can’t grumble too much. So what is the big issue? As always, it’s the battery. Apple’s white whale. One day they will find the key to a long lasting battery but this bugger doesn’t even last as long as the previous model, the 6. And it takes a long time to charge. If you’re an iPhone lover, you’ll love the 7. And there is a lot to love here. But a few slip-ups stop the iPhone 7 from getting the highest recommendation. 4/5


Sam Love

iPhone 7 at CeX

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