iPhone 7 review: Socketless upgrade is a gamble by Apple

The iPhone 7's cautious upgrade works well for the photographer but not so well for those who want to listen to music or watch videos using their traditional headphones.
The iPhone 7’s cautious upgrade works well for the photographer, but not as well for those who that want to listen to music or watch videos using their traditional headphones. Sergei Ilnitsky / EPA
The iPhone 7’s cautious upgrade works well for the photographer, but not as well for those who that want to listen to music or watch videos using their traditional headphones. Sergei Ilnitsky / EPA

The iPhone 7 is simultaneously a cautious upgrade and an ambitious gamble. Apple’s new smartphone sports mostly minor but welcome upgrades in its design, display, audio and camera, more than enough to keep the faithful happy.

Ultimately though, the iPhone 7 will be remembered as the phone that ditched the headphone socket, a bold move that customers might not be ready for yet.

The iPhone 7’s design is almost identical to that of the 6 and 6S, aside from the antenna lines on the rear, and, in the case of the 7 Plus, the dual camera lenses. The exception is the new shiny “Jet Black” finish, whose sleek gorgeous looks are sadly something of a fingerprint magnet.

Aside from its looks, the iPhone 7 is happily now water- resistant (for when you drop it in the bath, not for snorkelling), with its home key button replaced by a non-mechanical sensor that gives a pleasing “taptic feedback” when you push it.

The display is brighter, with a wider colour gamut, and National Geographic images look crisper and better defined. The stereo speakers are noticeably punchier than before, but don’t throw out your Bluetooth speakers.

The iPhone 7’s second largest change is its new camera. The iPhone 7 Plus has a 28mm wide-angle lens and a 56mm telephoto, offering far more zooming potential, with increased camera effects promised by Apple in the coming months.

Images are sharper and better in lowlight than on the iPhone 6S. However, our photographer preferred the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which offers more detail resolution, better highlights and more pleasing and natural images.

And so at last to the headphone socket, or lack thereof. Those using traditional headphones can still plug in through the included adapter, but while audio is fine, the adapter is fiddly and easy to lose. What’s more, the inability to charge the phone at the same time as listening via the adapter is a not insignificant downside.

The Apple faithful already using Bluetooth headphones will find the iPhone 7 a worthy upgrade. Those unwilling to part with their expensive wired headphones may want to think twice before upgrading.

q&a attempt to start a trend

John Everington expands on what Apple’s new iPhone 7 has to offer:

Why is Apple ditching the headphone socket?

Apple claims that the 3.5mm headphone jack is “old technology”. The theory goes that shifting the headphone cir­cuitry into the headphones and out of the phone will free up space, enabling a thinner form factor or, in the case of the ­iPhone 7, a larger battery.

But isn’t leaving out the socket going to ostracise users?

It may well do in the short-term, but remember that Apple has a history in this area. It was among the first to ditch features such as DVD drives and HDMI ports in its laptops, with customers quickly moving on after some initial grumbling.

Does this mean I’m going to have to use Apple’s fancy new wireless AirPods?

The AirPods, slated to cost Dh649, aren’t on sale in the UAE yet. In the meantime, there are plenty of Bluetooth headsets available.

How much is the iPhone 7 going to cost me then?

An entry-level 4.7-inch iPhone 7 with 32GB of memory (not available in Jet Black) will cost you Dh2,599. A 256GB iPhone 7 Plus with a 5.5-inch screen will set you back an eye-watering Dh3,899.

Now that Apple has introduced Jet Black does that mean …

No need to worry. The phone is also available in (not Jet, quite normal) black, silver, gold, and my own personal fav­ourite, rose gold.

jeverington@thenational.ae

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Published: September 26, 2016 04:00 AM

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