The press release starts: “Apple Introduces iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus – Our Best, Most Advanced iPhone Ever”. Despite the tautology (no manufacturer releases a phone that’s worse than its previous one), the word it should have used is “controversial”. There are several changes from the iPhone 6S, but they’re mostly minor.

A quick rundown of what’s new in the iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus):

  • A new camera
  • In the iPhone 7 Plus, it’s new cameras, plural
  • Faster processor
  • Longer battery life
  • Water resistant (IP67)
  • Stereo speakers
  • New home button
  • iOS 10
  • Now available in black.

But the big change, and one that will divide people, is these phones don’t have headphone jacks.

It has to happen at some point, but lots of people don’t think this is it. Wireless headphones are becoming more popular but the technology that binds them to phones, Bluetooth, is far from perfect. It drops, out, suffers from interference, and can be a pain to set up. Plus, popular is not the same as ubiquitous, so all iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models will include a pair of Earpods (that use a Lightning connection). They will also have a Lightning adapter that will let you go back to your old, non-wireless headphones, in case you hate wearing Ear or AirPods.

I’ll be one of those people. Not on principle or even on sound quality, but because the shape of Apple earbuds (and now AirPods) don’t fit my ear. And with no cable to tether them should they fall out, I’d be walking around holding them to my head. It’s safe to say I’m sceptical about the loss of the headphone jack.

But something I’m not sceptical about are the new cameras. The iPhone 7 gets a big upgrade and the 7 Plus gets two. On the iPhone 7, the new 12-megapixel camera includes optical image stabilisation, a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture and 6-element lens. This enables brighter, more detailed photos and a wide colour capture that allows for more vibrant colours.

The iPhone 7 Plus has this camera and a 12-megapixel telephoto camera. When used simultaneously, it offers two times optical zoom and up to 10 times digital zoom for photos. Using both cameras together also enables depth-of-field effects.

The front-facing camera is still only 7-megapixel, so your selfies will only be slightly better.

I have no doubt the new A10 chip will make these iPhones faster and more efficient with their battery life. The new home button works with the Taptic engine to allow for pressure-sensitive touches.

Should you buy this new phone? If you never use headphones and are stuck deep in the Apple eco-system then go ahead. For anyone else, wait. Let the phone get out into the wild for a while and see how the lack of a headphone jack situation plays out. At the very least it’ll be a good phone, but waiting to see if there are any potential pitfalls is a smart idea.

Pricing & Availability

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (32GB, 128GB and 256GB)
Starting at RRP NZ$1199 for iPhone 7
Starting at RRP NZ $1429 for iPhone 7 Plus
Black finish only available on 128GB and 256GB models
Orders can be made from Friday, 9 September, with the phones available from Friday, 16 September.

AirPods and other extras

AirPods RRP NZ$269 (includes charging case) available to buy separately from late October.
EarPods (wired) RRP NZ$49
Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter RRP NZ$15

by Hadyn Green