By KEVIN TEH
THIS coming January will mark the 10th anniversary of iPhone, and the test of time means there’s never been a better time to buy an iPhone. The latest model – the iPhone 7 – is the result of ten years of evolution and refinement that has produced a device that is simply the best ever, with many reviews giving it a 9 out of 10.
Following its release on September 16, pre-orders of iPhone 7 have blown away expectations. Apple has not released first week sales figures, but it is obvious that iPhone 7 is a huge market success with Apple saying that all iPhone 7 Plus models and all Jet Black iPhone 7 models were already sold out from in-store supply.
There are two reasons for iPhone 7’s popularity. First is that Apple has a legion of loyal, dedicated fans who respond enthusiastically to the need to upgrade and keep up with latest developments. I guess you could say they are Apple’s core market.
The other reason is that iPhone 7 is simply a better phone – the result of ten years of learning, research and development. Apple has not opted for change for the sake of change. Each year it becomes a little more difficult to make the iPhone a better phone, so any changes are going to be subtle, but essential.
So here are those subtle, essential changes that make iPhone 7 the best ever:
The iPhone 7 is now fully water-resistant, although Apple recommends that you don’t try and drown it or go diving with it. Apple calls it “splash and water resistant.”
The iPhone 7 has an IP67 rating meaning it can survive a drop in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and it has complete dust resistance. But Apple also warns that any dip in salt water should be followed by an immediate rinse in fresh water. And also, you have to dry your phone for at least a couple of hours before charging. Water resistance therefore means it will help in case you drop your phone in the sink, the bath or heaven forbid, in the toilet.
The front and rear cameras are much improved, taking better photos, especially in low light, and adding the optical image stabilization feature previously restricted to the 5.5-inch Plus model. As with last year’s iPhone choices, you can also opt for the step-up iPhone 7Plus, which offers a larger screen (5.5 inches vs. 4.7 inches). The iPhone 7Plus’ big attraction is the dual rear cameras, which can stitch together two images to offer unique effects such as 2x optical zoom and – after a future software upgrade – a cool in-camera 3D effect, which blurs the background while keeping the foreground in focus.
Black…but no headphone jack
By now you have probably heard that iPhone 7 has no headphone jack. This is the most controversial change – or evolution – for iPhone and it is probably a sign of things to come – as it appears Apple has decided that wireless is the way to go.
The adoption of a USB-C, a more versatile jack, may lead to headphone jacks disappearing in Android phones altogether. So it is obvious that Apple is leading the change with the new iPhone 7. Innovation vs imitation, right?
If you want to plug regular headphones into your new iPhone, a process that seemed simple and uncomplicated before, you now need to use the dongle (included in the box) or have a pair of Bluetooth headphones, or your special Lightning earbuds that are also included in the box.
And this is where we may be heading – because Apple are about to release a new product next month called AirPods, touted to be a breakthrough wireless audio device, designed specifically to be used with the latest range of Apple devices.
Looks and a “new feel”
Apple has added new colours this year with two versions of black in addition to the existing silver, gold and rose gold colours. Regular black is matte, while jet black is a high gloss. As I said earlier, jet black has sold out and is almost impossible to get. As far as feel goes, the home button isn’t “clickable” anymore – it uses the same pressure sensitivity and vibration “haptic” feedback found on the 3D Touch screen. It works perfectly well, but does take some getting used to as there’s no mechanical click when you press the home button. Like most new phones, you will eventually get the hang of it and appreciate the difference. Haptic feedback is also used across the phone: scroll through a menu or switch toggles on and off in settings and you get a reassuring vibration.
As a multimedia device for watching movies and playing cool games, iPhone 7 has a “wide colour gamut” screen with enhanced colour accuracy – Apple says it is 25% brighter.
The iPhone 7 also has enhanced stereo speakers. The speakers sound much louder as they now surround the left and right sides of the iPhone, instead of a single speaker which was previously housed down near the home button.
The battery lasts longer – probably a couple of hours or more a day, under normal usage. The processor is faster, although you might only notice the speed on some intensive games and the video and photo-editing apps.
The processor has been upgraded to Apple’s “A10 fusion” chip. This makes it 40 per cent more powerful than the 6s and twice as powerful as the 6. The chip also has “efficiency cores”, which are low-powered, saving battery life for less intensive tasks such as sending text messages. The phone is noticeably speedier too and also offers more on-board storage with 32GB, 128GB and 256GB options.
To summarise, iPhone 7 dramatically improves the most important aspects of the iPhone experience. It introduces advanced new camera systems. The best performance and battery life ever in an iPhone. Immersive stereo speakers. The brightest, most colourful iPhone display. Splash and water resistance. And it looks every bit as powerful as it is. After all, it took 10 years to get this far.
- Kevin Teh is the Managing Director of Cool Stuf Ltd.