Launching a phone that looks exactly like the last two is perhaps not the best way to get buyers excited, but Apple has made a few significant upgrades to the iPhone 7 which should appeal. But is it enough? Let’s find out.
If you’re unsure of the differences between the latest two models, see our iPhone 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus comparison.
iPhone 7 review: Price
If things got off to a bad start with design – or the lack of change in design, rather – then it doesn’t get any better if you look at the iPhone 7’s price.
It starts at £599, which is the base 32GB model, then there’s a big jump to 128GB (£699) and the capacious 256GB version goes up another £100, making £799 – all from Apple’s online shop. These are higher than the iPhone 6S prices were, but don’t forget that storage is doubled in each model.
It’s great that the 16GB base model has finally been ditched, and 32GB is a very usable amount for most people. But don’t forget that it’s not easy to add to this. Unlike most Android phones, the iPhone offers no microSD card slot.
Clearly this is a flagship phone, so no-one should be shocked by the prices and few people will buy it outright anyway. Apple offers its upgrade program which lets you get a new phone every year, but even the 32GB model costs £33.45 per month and that doesn’t include a SIM plan. Plus, it’s basically a rental agreement: you hand back the phone when you get your upgrade in a year’s time.
Buy it on contract and you’ll pay over £40 per month, usually with a small upfront fee. Again, that’s the base 32GB model. (See also: iPhone 7 Plus price and specs.)
iPhone 7 review: Design
With the iPhone 6 and 6S before it, little is left to say about the iPhone 7’s design. Its rounded edges feel great – the glass screen curves to meet the aluminium body perfectly – and it’s thin yet solid in the hand.
If you really know your iPhones, you’ll also notice the lack of antenna lines running across the back. They haven’t gone completely – they now just run around the top and bottom edges and on our silver test phone, they’re hardly noticeable at all.
Dimensions and weight are the same, or as near as makes no difference. Most iPhone 6/6s cases will fit the iPhone 7. The camera bump is different (it’s now part of the chassis itself) and there are now four LEDs crammed into the circle next to the lens.
The news this year is that there’s no headphone jack. Well, not in the traditional sense. Now you plug your EarPods into the Lightning port instead, or you can use the Lightning-to-3.5mm minijack if you prefer to use normal headphones.
Is it a problem? Not really, until you want to use headphones and charge the phone at the same time. You can either buy another adaptor which costs £35 and gives you two Lightning ports.
There are three new colours to choose, both of which replace Space Grey. Black (shown below) is the most similar – it’s just black instead of grey.
Jet Black is more eye-catching – the aluminium chassis is polished until it’s perfectly glossy and doesn’t even feel like metal any more. It’s the high-maintenance choice, though. Touch it and the finish is immediately marred by your fingerprints; move it across a table and it will inevitably pick up tiny scratches.
On 21 March, Apple announced a third new colour: the (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition, the proceeds of which go towards the global fight against HIV and AIDS.
It’s slightly pointless using a case which will hide or at least mask the reflective finish, and bear in mind that there’s no 32GB Jet Black or PRODUCT(RED) models, so £699 is the cheapest option here.
One other subtle design change is the solid home button. It doesn’t move, but is instead more like a touchpad, recognising a tap or a touch. To make it feel like you’re pressing it, there’s new haptic feedback – the strength of which you can customise – and it’s amazingly convincing. In fact, the bigger ‘Taptic Engine’ is put to good use with haptics throughout iOS 10.
When you swipe to delete an email you feel the slightest ‘click’ and when you roll the number dials to set a time or date, it really feels like you’re manipulating a click wheel.
The new home button makes one less place for water to ingress, but it does present a drawback: it doesn’t work if you’re wearing gloves or if you push it with a fingernail. Minor issues, granted.
The iPhone 7 is rated to IP67, which means you can take it 1m underwater for 30 minutes. That’s a first for an Apple product, and it isn’t simply for the accident-prone. While it will undoubtedly survive being dropped in the bath (which gives you peace of mind around water), it opens up new uses such as underwater photos and video. No need to buy a GoPro, then.
It’s interesting that, while you could say that the iPhone 7 is late to the pool party, Sony’s latest Xperia range isn’t water-resistant. That really is a step backwards.
See also: 20 best phones to buy