The last time I upgraded my Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, it was to an iPhone 6. I sat out the iPhone 6s (although my kids and wife got those), but I was waiting for the next really big innovation.
I could have hung on another year for the iPhone 8, but decided to pull the trigger on an iPhone 7 Plus.
I use my smartphone camera a lot, especially for product shots, so the new dual-camera optical zoom capability had real appeal. My iPad Mini also bit the dust and I hoped the new iPhone, with its 5.5-inch display, might be able to replace the tablet (which I mostly used just for scanning news while having a coffee, checking Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), e-mail and casual gaming).
Being based in Canada meant a long wait. Despite getting my pre-order in early, my iPhone 7 Plus just showed up late last week. The regular iPhone 7 was in stock here that entire time, making the wait even more annoying. And, it wasn’t even the Jet Black model!
After a week of putting it through its paces, here’s what I thought of the new iPhone 7 Plus.
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Great Camera and Performance, Who Cares if It Looks Like an iPhone 6?
AAPL let down those buyers who picked up a new iPhone just to show off the fact that they have a new iPhone. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus look very much like the previous two generations.
But, who cares?
The form factor works and the iPhone 7 Plus completely blows away my old phone.
Performance is wicked fast with any apps I use. My mobile gaming is mostly limited to Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) The Simpsons: Tapped Out, so I can’t speak to extremes, but the new iPhone has not kept me waiting for anything.
The new dual-lens camera that’s exclusive to the 7 Plus mostly lives up to the hype. The 2x optical zoom capability works exactly as advertised. I downloaded the latest iOS update to get the Portrait mode feature and the DSLR-like results have been impressive. My only complaint is that low-light photos can still come up grainy, but overall the camera alone is worth the extra cost over the standard iPhone 7.
And yes, the Retina display is large enough and sharp enough that the iPhone 7 Plus has replaced my iPad Mini. I do have to wear my reading glasses for websites that aren’t optimized for mobile, though…
About the Headphone Jack and Home Button …
I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to audio gear and I have a lot of headphones. I have some Bluetooth options, but many of my favorites use the old-school 3.5mm jack that AAPL killed on its new iPhone.
I didn’t care for that choice.
To lessen the impact, Apple includes a Lightning-to-3.5mm dongle with all iPhone 7 purchases. It works fine, but it’s two inches long and I know I’m going to lose it.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m still not happy about losing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but life goes on. And, the water resistance that eliminating that port helped to enable is a very welcome — and long overdue — feature.
Some people have found the new haptic Home button tough to get used to. I have no complaints about it and haven’t thought twice about the difference in feel compared to the old mechanical button.
The only time it felt strange was when the iPhone was powered off. Then, the Home Button is an absolutely dead piece of glass — no movement or feedback when you touch it.
iPhone 7 Plus Review: Specs
- 5.5-inch Full HD Retina IPS, LED-backlit display
- A10 Fusion processor with M10 Motion coprocessor and 3GB RAM
- 32/128/256 GB storage
- Dual 12MP wide-angle and telephoto camera at f/1.8 and f/2.8 respectively, with optical image stabilization, Quad LED True Tone flash and 4K video
- 7MP FaceTime HD camera
- Touch ID with new solid state Home button
- Battery life rated at up to 15 hours on Wi-Fi, 21 hours talk time
- IP 67 water resistant
- 6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29-inches, weighs 6.63 oz
- Includes Lightning EarPods and Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter
- Runs iOS 10
- Available in Rose Gold, Gold, Silver. Black and Jet Black
- MSRP $769 and up
I have no doubt that AAPL will be pulling out all the stops next year with the iPhone 8. It’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and the start of a three-year product cycle, so it’s going to be big. The iPhone 8 may even switch to an all-glass design.
However, if your old smartphone is starting to feel sluggish, the iPhone 7 Plus is a worthy upgrade. Especially if you use your phone’s camera a lot, the dual lens optical zoom feature is a big win.
Just don’t let the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’ resemblance to the iPhone 6 and 6s series sway your decision. These new iPhones may look like the old ones, but beneath that disguise they are more than an incremental update, especially the iPhone 7 Plus.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.