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First iPhone 7 reviews are in, here's what the critics say

By Shawn Knight
Sep 13, 2016
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  1. Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are just a few days away with launch in several territories – including the US – scheduled for September 16. Although this year’s models don’t feature the revolutionary redesign that some were hoping for, Apple has packed a decent amount of new features into the 2016 iPhones. Here’s what some of the early reviewers are saying.

    Engadget’s Chris Velazco praises the iPhone 7’s newfound water resistance, but there’s a catch:

    If you're lucky, you'll never need to know that the 7 and 7 Plus meet IP67 water-resistance standards. In other words, they're built to withstand dust ingress and, more important, submersion in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. Apple's rivals have made big strides in making their smartphones more life-proof, so all I can really say is: It's. About. Time. Finally, we get iPhones that'll survive when you drop them in puddles, get caught in the rain or intentionally dunk them in beer. (Note: liquid damage still isn't covered by Apple's warranty.)

    Over at The Verge, Nilay Patel speaks about the new jet black color option:

    But really, once you put the iPhone 7 in a case, it looks exactly like an iPhone 6. And if you get a jet black model, you’ll want to get it into a case immediately — my jet black review unit scratched and scuffed almost instantly, and the only time it’s remained fingerprint-free is when we literally handled it with white gloves for the photo and video shoots accompanying this review. Apple is being unusually open about the propensity of the jet black finish to scratch, but beyond that, I’d get the matte black anyway — it just looks meaner.

    Lance Ulanoff from Mashable also warns of the delicate jet black finish:

    Apple achieves this finish simply by polishing — with a special process, of course — the aluminum alloy. The very same material covers my matte-finish iPhone 7 Plus black test unit. Both finishes feel great in the hand, but the Jet Black iPhone 7 is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. As the Apple fine print warns, it is susceptible to micro-abrasions, dozens of which I can see on the iPhone 7 now, if I look closely.

    TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino talks at length about the Taptic engine and how it could be the sleeper hit of the iPhone 7:

    If you’ve ever used haptic feedback on a jailbroken iPhone or an Android phone, you might have noticed how, no matter what buttons or keys you tap, the vibration feels exactly the same. This is due to how crude most vibration motors are. The Taptic engine is far, far more advanced and can offer different signals to the user based on what they’re doing. The engine was introduced in the iPhone 6s, but this is the first time Apple is using it to replace a button, and the first time it’s opening it up to developers.

    There is going to be a lot of talk about the other features of the iPhone, but I believe that the Taptic Engine and its developer API are going to be the sleeper hit here. We’ve had an entire era of using the iPhone without it responding to us physically — that is over. I’d guess that a bunch of cool uses for the Taptic Engine are on the horizon and it could lead to better usability for the impaired and even some new interaction models that we haven’t seen yet.

    But how does the virtual home “button” work? Great. Fine. Pretty much a flawless transition in my opinion.

    Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham discusses the iPhone 7’s power plant, the A10 Fusion:

    A10 Fusion may technically be a quad-core CPU, but in practice it’s still functionally a dual-core processor with two large, fast processor cores doing the heavy lifting, just like everything from the A9 going all the way back to the A5 (RIP)

    Apple tells us that only two of the A10 Fusion’s cores can be lit up at any one time and that iOS automatically decides which tasks light up the low-power cores and which tasks hit the high-performance cores. It’s meant to be entirely invisible to developers, and early big.LITTLE implementations worked in the same way. More recent ARM chips have allowed both the high-performance and low-power cores to be enabled at the same time, but Apple has decided against it, either because it doesn’t actually improve performance much or because it wanted to keep things simple on the software side.

    While most other mobile chipmakers chase core count—anywhere from four to 10 cores is de rigueur in the Android world—Apple has chosen to remain focused on providing fewer cores with high single-core performance. That strategy has worked and continues to work well for Apple, and the company’s chips continue to top the charts in multi-core performance metrics while completely blowing away other ARM chipmakers in single-core performance.

    Wired writer David Pierce talks about how the A10 Fusion’s quad-core design impacts battery life:

    As always, the new iPhone is a better iPhone. Its new A10 Fusion processor is ludicrously, outrageously fast, somehow even more so than last year’s (already crazy fast) A9. It’s a quad-core processor, with two cores dedicated to running simple tasks and two to more taxing ones. That means if you don’t really game or watch high-res video on your phone, your battery life is going to be extraordinary. When I used the iPhone 7 for only simple things, I got more than 24 hours of life from the 7, and nearly 48 from the 7 Plus. As soon as I fired up Riptide GP: Renegade and streamed Halt and Catch Fire, I had to charge once during the day or be left stranded by 9pm.

    He also had a few things to say about the removal of the headphone jack:

    There’s really nothing to say about the absence of the headphone jack except that it’s not there, which really is annoying sometimes. Like when I’m on the train, and can’t charge from an external battery and listen to music at the same time.

    Apple’s solution to these gripes is a pair of wireless, $159 AirPods, but your answer will probably be to buy yet another awkward dongle that lets you still plug your wired headphones in. That’s another gripe; any time I left the tiny white connector at work, I couldn’t use my preferred cans. I’m into the idea that wireless is the future, but getting there is going to be painful and adapter-filled.

    Keep it tuned to TechSpot as we plan to have our review of the iPhone 7 Plus ready in the near future.

    Images courtesy Engadget, Mashable, TechCrunch and Mashable (in that order)

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,518   +506

    On the last note, is it really NECESSARY to get the AirPods? I mean, I do love BT don't get me wrong, but is Apple not allowing any other wireless headphones to connect? I bought a dirt cheap ($20) headset of a sort of unknown brand called SoundPEATs, I liked the design of it for a specific task and it had BT4 which was required, still can't believe how good they sound and replaced my sony headset.
     
  3. Panda218

    Panda218 TS Maniac Posts: 289   +106

    The iphone 7 has Bluetooth and their new W1 chip for the Airpods. I would think you can just use your old SoundPEATs without an issue.
     
  4. Kenrick

    Kenrick TS Booster Posts: 190   +89

    Not necessary. You can use any bluetooth headset you like. The only difference with airpods/beats' new headsets are they have an apple chipset inside to make pairing easy, low power mode, sleep mode and some functions that a normal regular bluetooth can not provide. Anandtech is saying that airpods uses bluetooth but a modified/custom protocol for use with the iOS system.
     
  5. j05hh

    j05hh TS Booster Posts: 140   +22

    I'm running out of room for all these apple dongles and adapters! #moneynotwellspent
     
    Reehahs and MonsterZero like this.
  6. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Addict Posts: 135   +57

    The Airpods make the transition much smoother - they're supposed to connect when the case is opened in proximity to the phone. A normal BT headset would need to be on and paired for a similar experience but let's be honest: bluetooth is not that great at pairing.
     
  7. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,059   +646

    The Airpods are tempting for Apple/Mac users in general, the issue comes with premium pricing that doesn't translate into higher quality audio (over the default white earbuds), according to reviewers using them thus far.
     
    Reehahs and Arris like this.
  8. mrjgriffin

    mrjgriffin TS Booster Posts: 136   +51

    Well im not an apple fanboy by any means, nor do I even like apple. I'm a droid guy, but....I wouldnt recommend the wireless headphones apple is offering. unless they've drastically improved on their wired offerings from the recent past when it comes to headphones or even their ipod headphones I wouldn't spend my money on it. instead buy a decent bluetooth headset or something from sennheiser or another quality brand to use while charging the phone. if it isn't possible to use a bluetooth headset while charging........then apple has drastically failed the audio fanatics out there. as for the vibration features.....is this seriously what people are looking for in their phone which is supposed to be a computer in their hands? come on folks. get real. expect more.
     
    trgz likes this.
  9. eXoguti097

    eXoguti097 TS Rookie

    I know you're a droid guy and anything other than the iPhone 6S/+ and 7/+ doesn't use a Taptic Engine, if you were used to it, you'd realize how premium quality it feels. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but get used to the feel of the 6S's vibrations, whether they're an amazingly clear short tap long or ongoing, and the rotating motor on every other phones will feel low quality and cheap, specially feedback when pressing keys. There are many things I wish iPhones had from Android phones, more software than hardware (OLED High PPI display is my top one for hardware, keyboard feedback for software), but I wish Android phones had a Taptic Engine and 3D Touch coupled with it. If you like to focus on details, then you'll appreciate how incredibly precise the vibrations are as they are felt as feedback with 3D Touch actions or notifications.
     
  10. eXoguti097

    eXoguti097 TS Rookie

    Once Bluetooth bandwidth increases enough to be able to send high quality audio files over the air, all BT headphones will sound great:)
     
  11. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,609   +295

    If your primary reasoning for buying iPhones is the quality of the vibrations they provide I suggest looking at another type of battery powered device altogether to fulfil your vibration needs. *cough*

    On a less smutty level, most people I know turn off haptic feedback on their phones as its just an annoyance when typing messages. In fact I find it annoying when sitting somewhere and all you can hear is the person at the next tables phone vibrating with each letter typed in The only vibration I need from my phone is when it is silenced, other than that it has never been and never will be a deciding factor on what device I buy.

    May you continue to enjoy good vibrations ;)
     
  12. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 340   +133

    I'm surprised so few have pointed this out:

    The removal of the headphone jack has nothing to do with music, or audio, or "the future" - but it might have a little to do with "courage". The courage to muscle their way in on the mobile payment market. Removing the jack has everything to do with Square and PayPal, and the few other similar services. It was the headphone jack that those card readers used, and because it was the headphone jack, Apple really had no control over it. Now, you just watch, every mobile payment system will have to start integrating with Apple Pay if they want to play (presumably through the lightning port).
     
    Tinderbox likes this.
  13. eXoguti097

    eXoguti097 TS Rookie

    I'm guessing you're a droid guy, so of course thats what you'd get out of that. I never said it's a deciding factor on what I buy, it would be great if everyone had it. Simple as that.
     
    Arris likes this.
  14. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Addict Posts: 135   +57

    I buy Androids only but it has nothing to do with the haptic engine - it has everything to do with setting default apps and sharing between apps. If iOS allowed/expanded those I would seriously consider buying.

    I think that Arris was jesting about the "premium feel" comment and its subjectivity.
     
    Arris likes this.
  15. eXoguti097

    eXoguti097 TS Rookie

    I gotta agree, I really would love those features at the least on iOS. And alright I can understand that
     
  16. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,609   +295

    Yeah, sorry. Couldn't help but make a joke of the vibrations :D
    I'm currently a Droid guy, but was a Windows Mobile guy early on with the HTC Touch HD which blew the iPhone at the time out of the water in terms of hardware. In terms of software.... not so much :p (it never received any update to its software over the 2 years I had it. I guess MS was already working on the move to Windows Phone).
    To be perfectly honest if the iPhone was more in line with the pricing of other phones it would be on my list of possible phones to buy. But for the features it offers it certainly, in my opinion, doesn't demand the premium price that it demands. I'm not opposed to paying more for features, I'm currently a Sony Z3 owner (20mp camera, sd slot for up to 128mb extra storage, water resistant).

    In the end they are all rectangular 5"ish screens with little icons on them. Unless you go real low budget the overall experience isn't a world apart. I'm not considering changing my phone for the foreseeable future unless they come out with something with an amazing battery life compared to the current offerings.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  17. eXoguti097

    eXoguti097 TS Rookie

    Haha I understand man, I sounded a little more serious than I wanted to in my first reply. I completely agree about the lack of features, mostly on iOS. I've been an Apple guy since I got an iPod touch 4G when I was a kid but I do want to experiment with Android phones as I don't want to stick with one thing. Hopefully something in the future will attract you a little more towards iOS like I am to Android, I just need money to experiment instead of having a new daily driver when my friends and family are based around Apple's services, you know?
     
    Arris likes this.

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