Pre-orders are starting to ship, the early iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus reviews are in. While it’s not perfect — and the missing headphone jack continues to be a point of concern — the consensus seems to be that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has delivered two very good smartphones.
And as a result, Apple stock continues to soar.
iPhone 7 Reviews Are Glowing
One of the points that everyone has been talking about is the performance of the iPhone 7. Every year, AAPL touts the speed increases of the latest AX chip in the new iPhones, but the A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7 seems pretty special.
Apple Insider says: “The A10 Fusion is a giant advance over the A9 processor in iPhone 6s” and points out that in addition to delivering increased battery life, the iPhone 7 delivers better performance than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Water resistance has been high on the wish list of Apple fans, and this year, the company delivered. The iPhone 7 carried an IP67 rating, good for being submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern went swimming for two hours with hers, shooting underwater photos and video. She reports that after three days, all is well. This might void the Apple warranty, but action camera makers like GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO) will be watching this development nervously.
The killer feature that virtually everyone agrees on is only available on the iPhone 7 Plus: its new dual-lens camera system with optical zoom. BGR says the iPhone 7 Plus “camera is absolutely jaw-dropping and best-in-class.” However, in testing both iPhone 7 models deliver a big improvement in low-light photos.
Battery life has improved considerably — reviewers are seeing an extra two hours or so a day. The move from 16GB to 32GB for base storage has been welcome, and the display is noticeably brighter than on previous iPhones, too.
There Is Some Bad, However
The Jet Black finish introduced for 128GB and up iPhone 7 models has been well received in terms of looks, but it’s getting panned for easily scratching. Engadget’s iPhone 7 review noted: “It didn’t even take 24 hours for the first batch of scratches to appear on my jet black iPhone 7’s back.”
The Home button’s switch from physical to capacitive with feedback hasn’t been particularly popular. The Verge describes it this way: “On the iPhone, the whole bottom of the phone just sort of ‘kicks.’ It’s not bad haptics like you remember, with weird vibration, it’s just a new kind of bad haptics. It doesn’t feel like a button at all. It’s a bummer.”
Of course, there’s that elephant in the room, the lack of headphone jack on the new iPhones.
While there are plenty of workarounds — including the Lightning adapter Apple includes for free and Bluetooth — no one is particularly happy about the move. In his iPhone 7 review, Wired’s David Pierce is representative of the reaction. There’s a lot of habitually trying to plug headphones into a jack that no longer exists, frustration when the adapter gets misplaced and annoyance over not being able to charge and listen to music simultaneously. He sums up his reaction to AAPL’s move: “I’m into the idea that wireless is the future, but getting there is going to be painful and adapter-filled.”
The Big Picture
Most outlets are reporting the iPhone 7 represents a big leap from the iPhone 6 and earlier. However, owners of an iPhone 6s are less likely to find it a compelling upgrade. The exception is people who use their smartphone as their primary camera, in which case the iPhone 7 Plus with its dual camera system is well worth shelling out for.
Analysts (and AAPL itself) seemed tentative about how well the iPhone 7 would be received. However, it seems to deliver much more than a typical incremental upgrade would. The new features, positive reviews and the negative press surrounding Samsung’s (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy Note 7 may just combine to make the iPhone 7 an unexpected hit.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.