On the outside, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus look a lot like the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus. The dimensions, aside from weight, are identical. The iPhone 7 measures in at 138.3mm tall, 67.1mm wide, and 7.1mm thick, while the iPhone 7 Plus is 158.2mm tall, 77.9mm wide, and 7.3mm thick.
At 138 grams and 188 grams for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, respectively, the two devices are slightly lighter than previous-generation iPhones.
Design wise, there are few visual differences between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7, aside from relocated antenna bands that no longer span across the back of the iPhone and larger protruding cameras, a feature that is especially noticeable on the larger iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-camera setup.
On the bottom of the iPhone 7, there’s no longer a headphone jack. The space has been replaced by a second set of speaker holes, which are largely cosmetic. The first hole on the left side of the device is a microphone, while the rest are designed to match the right side of the phone.
Black and Jet Black Color Options
To distinguish the iPhone 7 from the iPhone 6s, Apple has focused on introducing two new colors sold alongside the traditional Gold, Rose Gold, and Silver finishes. There’s a dark matte light-diffusing “Black” shade that replaces Space Gray and a glossy “Jet Black” that’s entirely new, with a pristine, mirror-like surface.
The high-shine Jet Black color is achieved through a unique dye bath and anodization process, and while its finish is eye-catching, Apple warns that it is prone to “micro-abrasions” and recommends those who are worried about scratches keep it in a case.
The iPhone 7 might look a lot like the iPhone 6s, but it’s been re-engineered from the inside out with new seals and new adhesive techniques to make it more water and dust resistant. It has a dust/water resistance rating of IP67, meaning it’s entirely dust proof and able to withstand 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It’s safe from splashes and accidental submersion, but don’t take it swimming.
Tests have proven that the iPhone 7 can survive immersion in a variety of liquids, from coke and hot coffee to sea water. There’s even been a test to see how well it does in deep water.
Apple is using a display in the iPhone 7 that’s 25 percent brighter than the display in the iPhone 6s, so it’s going to look brighter and clearer outdoors, especially in full sunlight. The display is also using a cinema-standard wide color gamut and end-to-end color management, for more vivid, saturated colors.
The resolution of the display is the same, at 1134 x 750 (326 ppi) for the iPhone 7 and 1920 x 1080 (401 ppi) for the iPhone 7 Plus, and the screen sizes continue to measure in at 4.7 inches for the iPhone 7 and 5.5 inches for the iPhone 7 Plus.
DisplayMate says the iPhone 7 has the “best LCD display” it’s ever tested, calling it a “major upgrade” over the iPhone 6s.
iPhone 7 achieved the highest color accuracy, peak brightness, and contrast rating in bright light of any smartphone display, the highest contrast ratio of any IPS LCD display, and the lowest screen reflectance of any smartphone display.
3D Touch continues to be an integral part of the display, built into one of the display layers. 3D Touch is an expanded multi-touch feature that allows the iPhone to measure different levels of pressure in addition to taps, swipes, and pinches.
3D Touch is used across iOS 9 and iOS 10 to enable shortcut gestures called a “Peek” and a “Pop” both at the home screen and in iOS apps. A light press enables a Peek, while a deeper press enables a Pop, and there are unique swipe gestures to open up menus and take actions when using Peeks.
Redesigned Home Button
The Home button on the iPhone 7 looks like the iPhone 6s Home button, but it’s no longer a physical button. Apple calls it a “solid state” button, and when you press on it, you get haptic feedback from the Taptic Engine to mimic a button press, similar to the trackpad on the latest MacBooks.
Instead of feeling the sensation of pressing down on an actual button, when you use the Home button on the iPhone 7, you’ll feel haptic vibrations in response to let you know that actions like unlocking the iPhone’s screen or making a payment with Apple Pay have been successful.
When setting up the iPhone 7, you can choose the level of haptic feedback you want, ranging from light to powerful, with a setting in the middle available. It should be noted that the iPhone 7 Home button is capacitive, requiring skin contact or the right kind of capacitive gloves to press. It otherwise won’t register touch, unlike the physical home buttons of earlier devices.
The Home button in the iPhone 7 is powered by a redesigned and updated Taptic Engine, a piece of hardware that was first introduced in the iPhone 6s. According to Apple, the Taptic Engine is more responsive and works with a wider range of frequencies.
It is used throughout the iPhone 7 system for everything from the Home button to notification vibrations, and for the first time, it can be programmed by third-party applications for new feelings and experiences that were not previously available.
The Touch ID fingerprint sensor that replaces passwords and offers additional security for things like Apple Pay payments is still located on the Home button, despite the Home button’s redesign.
Second-generation Touch ID technology is built into the iPhone 7 and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor is as quick as the one in the iPhone 6s.
A10 Fusion Processor
Apple improves the processor in each iteration of the iPhone, and in the iPhone 7, some impressive features have been included for the best chip performance in an iOS device yet. The A10 Fusion has a four-core CPU (the first in an iOS device) that combines power and efficiency in a unique way. It is “incredibly thin” and was made on TSMC’s 16 nm FinFET+ process.
There are two high-performance cores, which are 40 percent faster than the A9 chip in the iPhone 6s and twice as fast as the A8 chip in the iPhone 6. There are also two high-efficiency cores that run at 1/5th of the speed of the high-performance cores to preserve battery when doing tasks that aren’t system intensive.
An Apple-designed performance controller switches between the two core systems and makes sure the correct processes are running for maximum performance and maximum battery. When doing something that requires the more powerful CPU, such as gaming, the high-power cores run. When doing something that doesn’t require a lot of power, like sending a message or an email, the high-efficiency cores turn on to draw less power and use less battery.
Along with the four-core CPU, the iPhone 7 features a six-core graphics chip that’s 60 percent faster than the A9 and three times faster than the A8. At the same time, it draws one-third less power than the A9 and half as much power as the A8.
There is an embedded M10 motion coprocessor in the A10 Fusion chip that captures motion-based data from the compass, accelerometer, and gyroscope to power Apple’s health and fitness capabilities without significant power drain.
For more detail on the A10 Fusion and the improvements it brings, make sure to check out our post covering the processor advancements introduced in the iPhone 7 and the Apple Watch Series 2.
Due to the increased demands of a dual-camera system and the software necessary to process images, Apple has equipped the iPhone 7 Plus with 3GB RAM.
The iPhone 7, which uses only a single lens camera, continues to have 2GB RAM like the iPhone 6s.
No Headphone Jack
There is no headphone jack in the iPhone 7, so headphones need to connect wirelessly or through the Lightning port. The removal of the headphone jack was done to save space and to make room for new technologies, plus Apple is using its elimination to drive the development of wireless headphone technology.
To ease the transition away from the 3.5mm headphone jack, Apple is including Lightning EarPods and a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in each iPhone box. Apple has also developed new wireless headphones called AirPods and introduced new wireless Beats models.
AirPods, Apple’s new wireless earbuds, look a lot like standard EarPods without the wires. Reviews suggest they’re similar in shape and size, but the internals are entirely different. There are no wires between the AirPods — each operates independently. You can wear both at the same time or wear a single one for a phone or FaceTime call.
AirPods feature Bluetooth and an Apple-designed W1 chip, the first wireless chip Apple has created for intelligent, high-efficiency playback with a consistent, reliable connection. AirPods have an infrared sensor built in to detect when they’re in the ear, and motion accelerometers respond to touch gestures, such as a double tap to activate Siri.
Voice accelerometers recognize when you’re talking and then team up with beamforming microphones to reduce external noise, plus Apple says the AirPods have “incredible sound.”
Apple’s goal, which it says no one has achieved, is a “wireless future” where all devices intuitively connect. AirPods are the first step towards that goal. The W1, paired with iCloud, connect seamlessly to all Apple devices with a one-step setup procedure and can instantly switch between devices. Apple calls it a “magical experience.”
AirPods last for five hours on a single charge and ship with a case that doubles as a battery source, for more than 24 total hours of battery life. AirPods and the case can be charged through a Lightning connector. AirPods are priced at $159.
According to Apple, processor improvements and bigger physical batteries have resulted in the longest battery life ever in an iPhone. Those upgrading from an iPhone 6s to an iPhone 7 will see two hours of additional battery life on average while iPhone 7 Plus users upgrading from an iPhone 6s Plus will see at least an hour more battery life. In most cases, users will see much greater increases in battery.
Curiously, when broken down on Apple’s site, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus get longer battery life during internet use and video playback, but shorter battery life for audio playback and talk time. Still, Apple says average battery life during real-world usage has improved.
Based on device teardowns, the iPhone 7 has a 1,960 mAh battery, an improvement over the 1,715 mAh battery in the iPhone 6s. The iPhone 7 Plus has a 2,900 mAh battery, up from 2,750 mAh in the iPhone 6s Plus.
The iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus feature a huge jump forward in camera technology, for photographs that are clearer, brighter, and crisper, even in low-light conditions.
Optical image stabilization, once a feature limited to the 5.5-inch iPhone, is built into the iPhone 7, compensating for small movements and hand shakiness when snapping a photo to allow for longer exposure times (3x longer than iPhone 6s). There’s a new 6-element f/1.8 aperture lens that lets 50 percent more light into the sensor while keeping photos sharp at the edges.
The 12-megapixel high-speed sensor is 60 percent faster and 30 percent more efficient, and there’s a new image signal processor with twice the throughput for faster camera performance across the board.
The image signal processor, custom designed by Apple, sets exposure, focus, white balance, and uses wide color capture for more true-to-life images. It features fourth-generation tone mapping and noise reduction, performing 100 billion operations in just 25 milliseconds every single time a photo is taken with the iPhone.
Wide color gamut support results in richer colors, especially for greens and some shades of red. Low-light photo capture is improved, and Live Photos feature stabilization, can be edited, and are accessible to third-party developers via new Capture and Edit APIs. In addition to facial recognition, the iPhone 7 also features full body recognition.
Professional camera tests have lauded the iPhone 7’s excellent exposure, lower noise output, and richer colors, calling it a solid improvement over the camera in the iPhone 6s. The camera features great exposures with wide dynamic range, accurate white balance and color rendering, and good detail preservation when shooting outdoors in bright daylight.
A redesigned four-LED rear flash puts out 50 percent more light and reaches 50 percent further, plus it has a flicker sensor that can read the flickering of artificial lighting and can compensate for it in both photo and video.
Video taking capabilities haven’t been improved in the iPhone 7. It still includes 4K video recording at 30fps and 1080p video recording at 30 or 60fps. 1080p Slo-mo video support is available at 120fps and 240fps at 720p.
iPhone 7 Plus – Dual Cameras
All of the features built into the iPhone 7 are included in the iPhone 7 Plus, but it has one other unique feature — a second lens. The first lens in the iPhone 7 Plus is the same wide-angle 28mm lens included in the iPhone 7, but it is installed alongside a second 12-megapixel 56mm telephoto lens with an f/2.8 aperture.
The two lenses create a new zoom feature that allows iPhone 7 Plus users to switch seamlessly between standard 1x zoom and an optical 2x zoom, right within the camera app. Optical zoom is superior to digital zoom because there’s no loss of detail, but the 2x optical zoom function also enables better digital zoom for clearer photos up to 10x closer.
Apple says that because you’re starting with a 2x lens when you zoom in with the iPhone 7 Plus, the quality is up to four times better than digital zoom in the iPhone 6s.
As of iOS 10.1, the two cameras in the iPhone 7 Plus can be used for a new “Portrait” feature that uses shallow depth of field to make portrait photos “pop,” as is possible with a high-end DSLR. To achieve this, Apple’s image signal processor scans a scene, using machine learning techniques to recognize people.
It creates a depth map of the image from the two cameras, keeping the people in focus while applying an artful blur to the background. There’s even a Live Preview effect that lets you see the background blur before taking the photo, something that’s unique to the iPhone. “Portrait” is a feature in the camera app alongside other options like “Video” and “Panorama.”
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus feature a 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera for better-than-ever selfies and clearer FaceTime calls. There’s new sensor technology for sharper images, auto image stabilization to reduce shakiness, and the wide color capture feature of the rear-camera is also available on the FaceTime camera.
There are two speakers in the iPhone 7, introducing surround sound for the first time. One speaker is at the bottom of the phone and one is at the top, for stereo sound in both portrait and landscape orientations. The two speakers put out twice the volume of the single speaker in the iPhone 6s and have a better overall sound thanks to increased dynamic range.
Bluetooth, NFC, and FeliCa
The iPhone 7 features Bluetooth 4.2 for connecting to Bluetooth devices like the AirPods, and it has an NFC chip for use with Apple Pay.
New in iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models sold in Japan is a FeliCa chip, which allows them to work with the FeliCa payments standard that’s been widely adopted in the country. In Japan, Apple Pay users can use the payments service anywhere Suica, iD, and QuicPay.
The iPhone 7 features LTE Advanced for data transfer speeds up to 450Mb/s and support on more LTE bands around the world.
Unlike the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which worked on any network, GSM iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models designed for the AT&T and T-Mobile networks are not compatible with the CDMA networks of Verizon and Sprint. This is because Apple has used LTE chips from both Qualcomm and Intel in its devices. GSM devices with Intel chips are not equipped with CDMA functionality, whereas Qualcomm chips work on both GSM and CDMA networks.
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