For months, many have conjectured over yesterday’s Apple event, predicting which new features would ship with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. In the case of the prophetic Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities, he accurately predicted almost all of the features. But the Apple execs came through for us and provided the answers we’ve been seeking on the latest and greatest innovations with the iPhone.
Leading up to the announcement, there seemed to be more cautious optimism than outright excitement. No one expected the iPhone 7 to be radically different and many analysts believe Apple is saving its biggest feature announcements for the iPhone 8. However, our team is impressed by several incremental innovations.
So what did we learn?
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Photo Credit: Apple
“This is the best iPhone we’ve ever made.” - Tim Cook
Water and dust resistant. Ever since Samsung introduced the waterproof Galaxy 7, iPhone users around the world have clamored for similar protective measures for their devices. The iPhone 7 utilizes the IP67 protection standard, similar to that of the original Apple Watch. Clutzes, moms of toddlers and everyone else rejoice as the new phone will improve on the 6s’ enhanced rubber trim to protect against water and dust damage.
No headphone jack. Not a surprise, though Phil Schiller’s explanation of why Apple removed the jack raised a few...thousand eyebrows. Yes, the headphone jack takes up valuable real estate in very desirable territory. But that doesn’t mean headphones with wires are a thing of the past, even though countless 3.5mm headphones are now useless with the device. With a lightning connection, headphones plug into the same port as your charging cable. Don’t worry, the iPhone 7 will also come with a lightning connection adapter so you can continue to use your old headphones.
Speakers. This is the first time iPhone will feature stereo speakers which promise to be twice as loud as previous generations and to increase dynamic range. One speaker will be on top of the phone with the other on bottom, likely using up real estate previously occupied by the headphone jack.
AirPods. Phasing out the headphone jack is likely a ploy to sell you wireless earbuds using Apple’s wireless W1 chip. Apple announced that AirPods will be available in October at a price of $159. Infrared sensors will sense when the AirPods are worn and play only then. The AirPods have 5 hours of battery life and will charge in their case. In case you didn’t catch it, the Twitterverse relentlessly mocked this announcement.
Enhanced Photo Capabilities. Yesterday’s release promises iPhone photographers a host of new features destined to continue the obsolescence of the traditional point-and-shoot camera. These features are pretty exciting when you think about the potential to capture truly beautiful memories.
Both iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will ship with an optical image stabilizer. iPhone 7 features a larger 1.8 aperture lens which lets in 50% more light. The new 12-megapixel sensor claims to be 30% more energy efficient and 60% faster than its iPhone 6s counterpart. Quad LED true tone flashes (that’s two more than currently exist on the 6s) produce 50% more light. Though the best iPhone camera until now, the 6s’ camera performed poorly in low light. Now, a flicker sensor can figure out artificial light and compensate for it.
The inclusion of a new image signal processor in the iPhone seems to indicate Apple’s intention to improve the photo taking experience for iPhone users. This new chip has twice the throughput of earlier versions and performs 100 billion operations in 25 milliseconds every time you take a photo. That is a crazy amount of processing ability! Users will also enjoy the 7 MP FaceTime HD camera which offers wide color capture and auto image stabilization. Good news for developers - we’ll have access to wide color capture and raw file APIs.
The exciting camera announcements made today are solely for the iPhone 7 Plus which will feature two 12 MP cameras - one wide-angle and one Telephoto. The phone offers a 25% brighter display, wide color gamut for better color reproduction and improved color management.
“Having dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus enables developers to build software programs to harness three dimensional mapping for creating higher quality virtual reality experiences,” said Alex Nachlas, software engineer at stable|kernel.
Users will be able to zoom in using a second optical zoom button or pinch and swipe gesture. Additionally, by using both cameras at the same time, users will be able to create a shallow depth of field and using the “depth effect” on portrait setting will allow users to see the effects prior to taking the photo. This feature will be available in a software update later this year.
“I love the depth of field capabilities and the ability to shoot fast without losing sharpness. This iphone proves you don’t need a fie figure rig to be a great photographer. This camera is gonna change the game.” - Jason Nocito, photographer
Longer battery life! Apple has promised us for several different generations of phones to give us longer battery life. Well, this time they’ve actually delivered, shipping the longest battery life in an iPhone to date with the new 7 and 7 Plus. Fantastic. iPhone 7 users will enjoy an additional 2 hours of battery life and 7 Plus users will get at least an additional hour of battery life over 6-gen phones. You’ll also get 40 hours of wireless audio playback on the iPhone 7 and 60 hours on the iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus way outshines the iPhone 7 in terms of 3G talk time with 21 hours vs 14 hours on the iPhone 7.
Photo credit: The Verge
Storage. 16 GB will no longer be a thing. Not only will the new smartphones come in 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB, Apple is going back to the iPhone 6s and upgrading its storage capacity to the same three storage offers. This is great for storing lots of high-res photos, 4k videos, music, and of course apps. That’s great news for developers too who won’t be as limited by app size and the device’s storage capacity.
Performance. Kuo predicted iPhone 7 would come with a “next-generation A10 processor that could be as fast as 2.4GHz.” The A10 Fusion Four-core CPU is “the most powerful chip ever built into a smartphone,” according to Apple! A10 is 40% faster than A9 and 2x faster than the A8. That’s 120x faster processing than the original iPhone. It even has 240x faster graphics performance than original iPhone. Two high-efficiency cores run at 1/5th of the power, contributing to a much longer battery life.
“Faster processor means we as developers can do more complicated things on the device faster, like machine learning,” said Nachlas.
5 New Colors. While there’s nothing really innovative about a smartphone’s color, Apple knows its customers. Apple fans tend to identify strongly with the brand and see their device as an extension of their personal brands. Both phones offer a gorgeous, new design with a couple of new finishes. The new Jet Black finish offers a high gloss, seamless frame. It’s beautiful. Four other finishes include a very cool matte black as well as gold, silver and rose gold.
Home button. Oh the back and forth on this feature! Will it have a home button? Will it not? Will it be flat and pressure sensitive or will it be clickable? Well, now we know. The home button is force sensitive, solid state and works with a taptic engine API which provides different vibration feedback for various alerts.
Many Apple fans will be happy about yesterday’s news, especially considering the enhancements to battery life, water resistance, camera, storage and processing power. All of these features are value-adds to the user, allowing us to do more faster, with more power and more storage, stopping to charge our devices less often. And I’m personally looking forward to a world where I don’t have to panic when my toddler drops my iPhone into the tub!
You can pre-order either iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus on September 9. Devices will begin shipping on Sept 16. Cost for the iPhone 7 remains the same as the 6s - $649.