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iPhone 7: Should you upgrade? iPhone 7 Vs iPhone 6S: What’s The Difference?

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The other potential deal breaker is Apple has done almost nothing to change the external design of the iPhone now for three generations and physically the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S (and iPhone 6) are almost identical:

  • iPhone 7 – 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 in) and 138 g (4.87 oz)
  • iPhone 6S – 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 in) and 143 g (5.04 oz)

Where the iPhone 7 has improved, however, is its durability as it retains the same tough Series 7000 aluminium as the iPhone 6S but also adds IP67 dust and water resistance which allows the phone to survive being fully submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. Yes, it’s a catch-up feature to rivals but a good one.

The iPhone 7 is now IP67 water resistant. Image credit: Apple

The iPhone 7 is now IP67 water resistant. Image credit: Apple

Another subtle change is the home button is now a fixed touch sensitive surface with haptic feedback. This should reduce button failures (a fairly common problem) and app developers will get access to allow custom haptic feedback patterns. Meanwhile Apple has also removed the antenna bands from the back of the iPhone 7 which gives it a cleaner look and integrated a speaker into the earpiece so users get loud external audio for the first time.

And in a final flourish, Apple has expanded the array of colour options for the iPhone 7 and it comes in Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black and (for just 128GB and 256GB options) Jet Black, though the Space Gray option has been ditched.

iPhone 7 in all new colour options. Image credit: Apple

iPhone 7 in all new colour options. Image credit: Apple

Displays – Minor Changes

Despite changing the smartphone industry with its Retina Display on the iPhone 4 in 2010, Apple has since been surpassed by rivals producing 1080p, 2K and even 4K OLED displays. But yet again Apple has stuck to its guns:

  • iPhone 7 – 4.7-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 1334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi), 65.6% screen-to-body ratio
  • iPhone 6 – 4.7-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 1334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi), 65.6% screen-to-body ratio

LED and 750p is undoubtedly getting long in the tooth, but Apple has boosted peak brightness on the iPhone 7 by 25%, introduced support for a wider (P3) colour gamut and better color management. All of which sees Apple declare the iPhone 7 to have a “cinema standard” display, but no this won’t match up to the OLEDs on Samsung’s Galaxy S7, S7 Edgeand Note 7.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus displays have been upgraded but are still lagging behind rivals. Image credit: Apple

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus displays have been upgraded but are still lagging behind rivals. Image credit: Apple

Meanwhile 3D Touch support is still there, even if its implementation in iOS 10 remains hit and miss as users are forced to guess which interface elements are enabled and which are not.

Performance – The Fastest Gets Faster

Even now some benchmarks claim the 2015 iPhone 6S is faster than Android’s 2016 flagships, but that hasn’t stopped Apple giving the iPhone 7 another significant speed boost:

  • iPhone 7 – Apple A10 Fusion chipset: Quad Core CPU, Six Core GPU, 2GB of RAM
  • iPhone 6S – Apple A9 chipset, CPU: Dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister; GPU: PowerVR GT7600, 2GB of RAM

Apple has yet to detail the iPhone 7’s exact CPU and GPU models and clock speeds, but it claims the range’s first ever quad core processor delivers 40% and 50% performance gains respectively over the iPhone 6S.

The A10 Fusion chipset makes the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Apple's fastest ever iPhones. Image credit: Apple

The A10 Fusion chipset makes the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Apple’s fastest ever iPhones. Image credit: Apple

The iPhone 6S is still blisteringly quick, so this may not be a huge selling point though it does promise a great deal of future proofing. Some power users will decry the lack of a RAM upgrade, but it just doesn’t seem like iOS needs more right now.

More subtly, the iPhone 7 also provides a 50% boost to 4G speeds with a 300Mbit modem switched out for a 450Mbit unit (how often you get to test this in real life remains to be seen). Apple made no claims of improving Touch ID this year but again, it’s not necessary.

Cameras – The Samsung Fightback Begins

For the last two years Samsung has been the smartphone photography king, but the new iPhone 7 makes some very welcome changes after the iPhone 6S plateaued from the iPhone 6:

  • iPhone 7 – Rear: 12 megapixel sensor, f/1.8 aperture, Focus Pixels, Optical Image Stabilisation, quad-LED (dual tone) flash, 4K video recording. Front: 7MP sensor, f/2.2 aperture, 1080p recording
  • iPhone 6S – Rear: 12 megapixel sensor, f2.2 aperture, Focus Pixels, Software Image Stabilisation, dual-LED flash, 4K video recording. Front: 5MP Front Camera, f2.2 aperture, 720p video recording

The iPhone 7 (left) uses a new 6-element lens with greater aperture than the 5-element lens in the iPhone 6S (right). Image credit: Apple

The iPhone 7 (left) uses a new 6-element lens with greater aperture than the 5-element lens in the iPhone 6S (right). Image credit: Apple

The numbers to look for here are the significantly larger f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and a four LED flash with cool and warm tones, all of which should improve the iPhone’s biggest photographic weakness: low light photography.

In addition to this Apple has fitted the iPhone 7 with an all new 6-element lens, upgraded image signal processor and added support for wide colour capture which will boost colour accuracy. Meanwhile the front facing camera gets a bump to 7MP and, while still stuck at f/2.2, it delivers greater detail and 1080p video.

iPhone 7 low light camera sample, posted by Apple. Image credit: Apple

iPhone 7 low light camera sample, posted by Apple. Image credit: Apple

Of course the star of the show, however, is the iPhone 7 Plus and its dual rear cameras which provide 2x optical zoom and a much wider depth of field. But it remains extremely bulky for a 5.5-inch phone.

Read More – iPhone 7 Vs iPhone 7 Plus: What’s The Difference?

Battery Life And Charging – Better But Still Disappointing

Do you know what removing the headphone jack was meant to do in many users’ eyes? Create space for a much larger battery.

But it turns out most of that space was used to fit the haptics engine for the new touch sensitive Home button (not a trade off I expect many users support) – as such there’s only a moderate improvement in stamina from the iPhone 6S to the iPhone 7:

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S battery life shows some modest improvements. Image credit: Apple

iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S battery life shows some modest improvements. Image credit: Apple

Arguably even more frustrating, however, is Apple’s ongoing refusal to equip its iPhones with either fast charging or wireless charging. Given both have been common features on Android rivals for years and there is now just a Lightning port on the iPhone 7, their ongoing omission is deeply disappointing.

Storage And Price – Upgrades, But For All

Where Apple does catch up with rivals this year though, is storage.

The iPhone 7 finally ditches the loathed 16GB entry level tier and doubles storage across the range from 16/64/128GB to 32/128/256GB. This makes the iPhone 7 far better value for money, but making the upgrade decision harder is Apple has retroactively upgraded iPhone 6S storage as well:

  • iPhone 7 – 32GB ($649), 128GB ($749), 256GB ($849)
  • iPhone 6S – 32GB ($549), 128GB ($649)

This causes a conundrum. For example, is a 128GB iPhone 6S preferable to the same outlay for a 32GB iPhone 7? Personally I’d side with the newer model, but I can see some users being tempted to do the opposite – and the iPhone 7 Plus costs even more.

The iPhone 7 has a number of upgrades over the iPhone 6S, but it isn't a game changer. Image credit: Apple

The iPhone 7 has a number of upgrades over the iPhone 6S, but it isn’t a game changer. Image credit: Apple

Bottom Line

The iPhone 7 is a bigger upgrade than cynics will claim. The added durability, water resistance, upgraded camera, performance gains, brighter display and bigger storage options are all welcome and – in some cases – overdue.

But the iPhone 7 also isn’t as big an upgrade as we are used to for an iPhone ‘number change’ year. The virtually identical design (fairly or unfairly) seems dated compared to rivals like the Galaxy S7 Edge and Note 7, while the lack of fast and wireless charging is inexcusable in 2016 and the removal of the headphone jack has the potential to backfire (it is less about “courage” than generating cash from licensing fees).

By now it is common knowledge that a radical upgrade will come in 2017 with the ‘all glass’ Edge iPhone to celebrate the range’s 10th anniversary. The iPhone 7 is predominantly a step forward, but it is unlikely to be remembered as a classic Apple release…

Wondering if you should give your current iPhone the heave-ho and get one of Apple’s new models? Follow this guide!

According to CNET, Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus hit shelves on Friday, September 16 (they’re on preorder now), and you have a decision to make: stick with your phone for now or buy one of the new ones. Remember that the iPhone 7 Plus has the larger screen, second camera and slightly longer battery life. (For more details, here are all the differences between the two.) The new iPhones also ship with iOS 10, and many phones will upgrade to the new software starting September 13 — here’s the full list.

So what do you really gain or lose by taking the plunge to the iPhone 7? Now, we haven’t had a chance to fully review the devices yet, so we can’t firmly tell you yet if you should stay or you should you go, now. But we can tell you what’s different on paper. (We’ll update this when the full iPhone 7 and 7 Plus reviews are in.)

Scroll down to find your phone. If it isn’t on this list, it’s ancient by phone standards, and you’ll almost definitely see performance and feature gains by upgrading. Ready? Here we go!

iPhone 6S to iPhone 7

The iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 are the most similar, so switching between the two is more of a toss-up. If you’re part of Apple’s yearly upgrade program, you won’t have to decide, you automatically get this year’s phone. Waterproofing, camera improvements and increased storage are the main reasons to make the jump.

What you get with the iPhone 7

  • Jet- and matte-black color options
  • Waterproofing
  • Home button’s “taptic” vibrations
  • Optical image stabilization for 12-megapixel camera
  • 7-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • 32GB base storage up from 16GB (and up to 256GB)
  • Slightly faster A10 Fusion processor and longer battery life

What’s the same

  • Screen size and most body dimensions
  • Siri voice assistant integration
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Apple Pay

What you’re losing when upgrading to iPhone 7

  • Headphone jack and clickable home button

iPhone SE to iPhone 7

The pocket-friendly iPhone SE has a 4-inch screen and smaller, squarer body. It’s a likable, fluid device to be sure, and is a budget phone by Apple standards, initially $399/£359/AU$679 for the 16GB version. Now, Apple’s dropped the 64GB version to $449/£UK /AU$749. It’s hard to imagine that the iPhone 7 won’t outperform the SE in every way, but if a compact body’s important to you, the SE may still be your best bet.

What you get with the iPhone 7

  • Pressure-sensitive 3D Touch screen
  • Jet- and matte-black color options
  • Waterproofing
  • Home button’s “taptic” vibrations
  • Optical image stabilization for 12-megapixel camera
  • 7-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Stereo speakers
  • 32GB base storage up from 16GB (and up to 256GB)
  • Slightly faster A10 Fusion processor

What’s the same

  • Pixel density (text and images should look just as crisp)
  • Battery life, potentially. Our review unit lasted 13 hours in our battery drain test.
  • Siri voice-assistant integration
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Apple Pay

What you’re losing when upgrading to iPhone 7

  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Much smaller, thinner, lighter design
  • Savings; this is considered a budget iPhone

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