After the usual months-long (well, does it ever really end?) rumor period, the latest iPhone is finally official. Apple is updating their smartphone line with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and while they don’t represent the noticeable redesign we usually see when the number goes up, they’re a big departure in many other subtle and not-so-subtle ways. But, the main question is whether or not the iPhone 7 builds on its predecessors, and as always, the answer is yes.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus don’t look that different from the 6s and 6s Plus — they’re still 4.7″ and 5.5″, respectively, and have the same rounded frame. The most noticeable changes to the frame are audio-related. The 3.5 mm headphone port has indeed been removed, which is the bad news (Phil Schiller said they did it because it was “courageous,” which is hogwash). The good news is that the iPhone finally will have stereo speakers. Instead of having two downward-firing speakers, they’ve put one on top and one on the bottom, which should work great when watching videos in landscape mode (the iPhone 7 should get twice as loud as the 6s, too). As for headphones, the EarPods will now use a Lightning connector. Apple will also include a Lightning-to-3.5 mm adapter with the iPhone 7, but from our experiences using similar adapters, those aren’t very comfortable to use if you usually carry your phone in your pocket.
The removal of the 3.5 mm port has had one positive outcome, though — it’s made it easier for Apple to make the iPhone water resistant. Thanks to the removal of the 3.5 mm port and the use of new seals and adhesives, the iPhone 7 is IP67 water and dust resistant, which means it can survive a dunk in the swimming pool or toilet. Considering how many iPhones get brought in for water damage, this might be one of the most important improvements ever made to the iPhone.
The camera was also the subject of many rumors heading into today. Both the regular and Plus models are getting upgrades, but only the iPhone 7 Plus has the much-talked about dual-camera system. Both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will have a 12 MP wide-angle sensor with a f/1.8 six-element lens, optical image stabilization, and Apple’s top-notch image processor. The f/1.8 six-element lens in particular is a big upgrade, and will allow for better low-light performance, plus more clarity and less noise and distortion overall. That sensor will be paired with a quad-LED True Tone flash. Photography enthusiasts will be pleased to know that it’s now possible to shoot in RAW format. And, if you’re not a fan of the camera bump, apologies, but there’s still a little bump here. Meanwhile, the front camera has been upgraded to a 7 MP sensor.
The iPhone 7 Plus will pair that camera with a second 12 MP sensor, this one with a wide-angle 56 mm telephoto lens, which will work together with the other rear camera to enable better zoom and depth-of-field effects. 2x optical zoom is now possible, with 10x software zoom the max (we’ll be skeptical of anything past optical zoom until we get a chance to test it out). It’s also possible to adjust focus depth before taking a photo, so you can get your blurry background photos just right — the Huawei P9 has a similar feature with its dual-camera system, with some occasionally great results.
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