Technophile

Is the iPhone 7 a worthy upgrade?

S. Muralidhar | Updated on March 10, 2018

The Apple iPhone7 and AirPods that were displayed during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, US recently. - Reuters

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The iPhone 7’s aren’t dramatically different, but a look at new features will tell whether to buy one

The disappearance of the 3.5mm audio socket and the rework of the home button were already staple mentions on gossip columns and tech websites much before the launch of the iPhone 7. Steve Jobs would have been furious with such laxity.

Yet, there are a few surprising new features in the pair of new iPhones that Apple unveiled last week. Design is certainly not one of them. The overall look and shape of the new iPhones have remained the same over the past three iterations, save the changes to the antenna line in the new ones.

So, should you go in for the upgrade if you already own an iPhone? And if you are planning to jump ship from Android, are the upgrades in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus worth emptying your wallet for upward of ₹60,000? Or should you wait for that deal on the 6s?

Design and display

The screen on the iPhone 7 is the same Retina HD display as on the 6s — it's just that it's now 25 per cent brighter and shows a wider gamut of colours.

The new Home button with Taptic engine feedback could be an interesting addition, but it is too fringe to become a factor influencing a buy call. A similar point would be the new dust and water resistance feature, where Apple is by now only a follower, not a trendsetter. The new Jet Black body finish looks awesome in pictures, but our guess is that if you are a heavy user, the matt black might be the one to choose. The super glossy Jet Black finish is guaranteed to be prone to fingerprints and scratches.

Upgraded camera

The iPhone 7 gets a new 12MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture lens and optical image stabilisation. This is a big jump in performance over the 6s, because the new lens will allow more light into the sensor (50 per cent more than 6s) and the optical stabilisation will deliver much better results than the kind of stabilisation that can be achieved by software. So, low light photography should produce much better, less grainy results. Flash photos should be better too thanks to the the quad LEDs. But, it is the iPhone 7 Plus that gets two cameras positioned side by side and both 12MP each. This arrangement is meant to deliver greater depth to your photos and to be able to generate that key 'Bokah' effect for portraits and close-ups. But, one capability that will be unique to the 7 Plus is optical zoom upto 2X.

The new cameras are great but unless you're quite a phone photography enthusiast, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cameras are fantastic in themselves. There are a lot of apps that can also help add depth and Bokeh in post-processing.

Processor power

The iPhone 7's new A10 Fusion chip offers an incremental improvement in processing power, graphics speeds and battery efficiency. The numbers are only impressive compared to the iPhone 6 and much less attractive when compared to the 6s. So, unless you are an Apple loyalist or a performance addict, the 6s' performance should suffice from the perspective of processing power. That would be the recommendation even if you are big into gaming on your phone.

But, the reason the iPhone 7 could be more attractive is the doubling of memory. With apps taking over our lives, the need for higher capacity has never been more urgent. And there are no memory cards with Apple devices, so the larger capacity is most welcome. With the iPhone 7's camera capable of shooting in RAW format and also taking 4K videos the larger memory will definitely be useful. Many of today's games take up space and even their updates (like Asphalt 8 Airborne's) are larger than 1GB.

Sound of music

The stereo speakers on the iPhone 7 are welcome, not so the elimination of the 3.5mm audio socket. But then, you can't complain since Apple is including the lightning to 3.5mm adapter in the box. Also, with the lighting socket doubling up as the audio port and with the possibility of it delivering power for headphones with active noise cancellation, this could turn out to be a blessing eventually.

Down to cash

True iPhone fans need little persuasion to move to the next version. But it comes down to whether you want to spend the cash on an iteration of what already works quite well. If you're using a really old version of the iPhone, and can spare the money, certainly look at the new iPhone 7's. If not, wait for a good deal on the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus. As far as software goes, the operating system is now upgrading for everyone, with the release of iOS 10 and new features will come in on old devices.

Published on September 14, 2016

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