Hardware

Apple iPhone 7: The smart person's guide

The rumors are true. There is no headphone jack on Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus smartphones. But, there are some new features worth noting. Learn the pros and cons.

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The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

Image: James Martin/CNET

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus feature everything from new, improved cameras, to stereo speakers (finally), longer battery life and a new home button with a taptic engine. And of course, the long-rumored elimination of the analog headphone jack.

The new models operate on iOS 10 and are available for pre-order beginning Friday, September 9, and shipping begins on September 16.

We've got all the details, especially the stuff that matters most to business professionals and technologists.

Executive summary

  • What it is: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are the latest smartphones from Apple, and they operate on iOS 10, which Apple calls its biggest upgrade yet.
  • Why it matters: For the first time, iPhone has eliminated the headphone jack, infused new technology into its cameras, and added a new wireless chip, the W1, that can compete with bluetooth.
  • Who it is for: Apple users who want the most processing power, most battery life, and care about iPhone photography.
  • Why you should get it: It's been two years since Apple has released a substantially new smartphone model, after the relatively minimal updates of the 6s and 6s Plus.
  • Why you shouldn't get it: There are other smartphones on the market at a lower price, with plenty of useable features, such as the previously reviewed Moto G4 or OnePlus 3.
  • How to get it: Pre-order at Apple available in 28 countries on September 9, with delivery on September 16, and it will be available in an additional 30 countries a week later.
  • What it looks like:
    apple-images.png
    Image: Apple
The iPhone 7 Plus (left) in black, and the iPhone 7 (right) in jet black.
  • The style quotient: Apple gets a solid 8 for a consistent look that is minimalist, but hasn't changed much in recent years.

SEE: Check out all of TechRepublic's smart person's guides (TechRepublic)

What it is

Apple's latest smartphones are the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 7 features the following specs:

  • 4.7" Retina HD display with wide color gamut
  • New home button
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Stereo speakers
  • A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture
  • Embedded M10 motion coprocessor
  • LTE Advanced up to 450 Mbps
  • Longest battery life ever in an iPhone
  • iOS 10
  • Weight 4.87 ounces
  • Thickness: 7.1 mm
  • 1400:1 contrast ratio
  • Available in Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black and Jet Black
  • Storage capacity of 32GB, 128GB or 256GB, with Jet Black exclusively available in 128GB or 256GB.

The iPhone 7 Plus features the same specs as the iPhone 7, with these additional features:

  • 5.5" Retina HD display with wide color gamut
  • Weight: 6.63 ounces
  • Thickness: 7.3 mm
  • 1300:1 contrast ratio

iPhone 7 camera:

  • 12MP camera
  • ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • Digital zoom up to 5x

iPhone 7 Plus cameras:

  • 12MP wide-angle and 12MP telephoto cameras
  • Wide-angle: ƒ/1.8 aperture
  • Telephoto: ƒ/2.8 aperture
  • Optical zoom at 2x; digital zoom up to 10x

Both models:

  • Optical image stabilization
  • Six‑element lens
  • Quad-LED True Tone flash
  • Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
  • Sapphire crystal lens cover
  • Backside illumination sensor
  • Hybrid IR filter
  • Autofocus with Focus Pixels
  • Tap to focus with Focus Pixels
  • Live photos with stabilization
  • Wide color capture for photos and live photos
  • Improved local tone mapping
  • Body and face detection
  • Exposure control
  • Noise reduction
  • Auto HDR for photos
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode
  • Timer mode
  • Photo geotagging

FaceTime HD camera on both models:

  • 7-megapixel photos
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Retina Flash
  • ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • Wide color capture for photos and live photos
  • Auto HDR
  • Backside illumination sensor
  • Body and face detection
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode
  • Exposure control
  • Timer mode

In the box with each model:

  • iPhone with iOS 10
  • EarPods with lightning connector
  • Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter

Additional resources:

Why it matters

With competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (now recalled) close on the heels of Apple and lower priced competitors like the OnePlus 3 gaining ground, it was important for Apple to hit this one out of the park. By removing the analog headphone jack, and adding EarPods with a lightning connector, as well as wireless AirPods available separately for $159, Apple is changing how people will use audio on their smartphones. Time will tell if the changes are enough to keep Apple in the game.

The AirPods contain infrared sensors to detect when they're in the user's ear, so that they only play when someone is listening. Each airpod provides 5 hours of listening on a single charge and the charging case delivers 24 hours of battery life.

Both models also feature improved cameras, including 7MP front facing cameras for better selfies. The cameras—especially the dual wide angle and telephotos lenses on the 7 Plus—are the most significant new feature. However, professionals may benefit most from the improved battery life in both models.

Additional resources:

Who it is for

Longtime Apple users will appreciate the newest features on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The phone operates on iOS 10, and has a new design and a new home button with a taptic engine for the fingerprint sensor, similar to the latest MacBooks. The cameras are much improved, and the phones are water and dust resistant. There are stereo speakers for the first time, which is a boon for those who use their phones for music and video. The improved cameras are ideal for those who use their camera as their main camera.

Additional resources:

Why you should get it

The phones boast a longer battery life, with the iPhone 7 giving an average of two hours more usage than the iPhone 6s, and the iPhone 7 Plus giving an average of one hour more usage than the iPhone 6s Plus. Plus, the retina HD display on the iPhone 7 and 7 plus is 25% brighter than on the 6s and 6s Plus.

The cameras on both models are much improved, particularly the front facing 7MP camera for selfies. The 12MP rear camera on the iPhone 7 is 60% faster and 30% more energy efficient than on the 6s. Later this year, Apple will release a depth of field update to iOS 10 users to further improve the camera and make it act more like a DSLR.

"This is the best camera we've ever made in an iPhone. This is the best camera ever made in any smartphone," said Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Apple, speaking at today's event.

Another reason to buy the new phone is its appearance, if looks matter. Both the 7 and 7 Plus come in five color options, including a sleek new jet black high gloss finish and a new non-gloss black finish, along with silver, gold and rose gold.

Each model will also support Japan's version of Near Field Communication (NFC), called FeliCa, this fall, so that Apple Pay can be rolled out in late October in Japan.

Additional resources:

Why you shouldn't get it

Apple has been losing ground to competitors, who are offering gimmicks such as modular accessories (Moto Z) and lower-priced phones (OnePlus 3 and Moto G4) that aren't tethered to a contract.

Plus, eliminating the headphone jack has been a controversial topic online in the weeks leading up to Apple's official announcement. While the wireless AirPods are a cool accessory, previous models of iPhones worked fine with Bluetooth headsets and users had the option to go wireless or stay tethered to their phone. Most stuck with traditional headphones or earbuds.

Additional resources:

How to get it

Pre-order either model at Apple on September 9, with shipping beginning on September 16. Apple will make the phone available initially to 28 countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., and adding 30 additional countries a week later.

The iPhone 7 will cost $649 for 32GB, $749 for 128GB, and $849 for 256GB.

The iPhone 7 Plus will cost $769 for 32GB, $869 for 128GB, and $969 for 256GB.

Additional resources:

What it looks like

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Image: Apple

Additional resources:

Also see:

This smart person's guide will be updated with a hands-on review.

About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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