Apple iPhone 7 Review Roundup: Stellar Cameras, Blazing Performance, RIP Headphone Jack

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Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will begin shipping to customers this Friday, but the tech press began posting their thoughts on the smartphones early this morning. The general consensus is that it’s a notable upgrade for those who currently own an iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus or older, and that those with an iPhone 6s/iPhones 6s Plus might want to wait to see what Apple’s 2017 iPhone has to offer.

With that being said, let’s take a look at some thoughts from the pundits on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Probably the most controversial aspect of the new iPhones comes from the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Most of us have taken the headphone jack for granted and can easily plug in a pair of headphones without giving it a second thought. However, the new iPhones instead use the Lightning port for audio and require you to plug in a dongle (included in the box) to use your “legacy” headphones.

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. — Wired

Suffice to say that the toughest part of not having a headphone jack is trying to break all my old listening habits. I can't tell you the number of times I tried to plug a regular pair of earbuds into these phones before -- d'oh! -- remembering that doesn't work and then having to root around for the included Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter. — Engadget

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While the headphone jack definitely annoyed many of the reviewers, there was also criticism leveled at the new Home button, which is now not actually a “button” per se, and instead uses haptic feedback to simulate physical actuation.

This system works tremendously well on MacBooks, but on the iPhone 7 it feels like the entire bottom of the phone is clicking, not like you’re pushing a button. You can set the haptic feedback to one of three force settings that make it feel like a harder or stronger click, but it’s definitely still strange, especially if the phone is lying down on a table instead of in your hand and you can see that you’re just pushing against nothing. — The Verge

This new home button is the one and only thing about the iPhone 7 that I don’t like. Why would Apple do this? It does remove one more potential point of ingress, improving water resistance. But the power and volume buttons are still actual buttons, and the iPhone 7 is IP67 water resistant. To me, it feels worse, not better. — Daring Fireball

There was near universal praise for the cameras (especially in low-light) on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which should come as no surprise given that their predecessors had some of the best cameras in the business.

It's in low light where the 7 and 7 Plus cameras really shine. In the nighttime skyline shots below, many of the iPhone cameras have trouble focusing enough on the skyline to take a sharp image. The 7 and 7 Plus not only manage it, but they capture more of that lovely light pollution that any major city gives off at night… The low-light indoor shots also show the benefits of the new cameras, especially relative to anything older than an iPhone 6S. The pictures are sharper and easier to make out, without question. — Ars Technica

Props to Samsung: Photos taken with the S7 Edge did indeed look brighter, but the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offered more natural colors. Before today I would've said the S7s and the Note 7s had the best all-around smartphone cameras, but now Apple is right there, neck and neck with the best of them. The iPhone 7's front-facing camera has also received a major upgrade. It's been bumped up to seven megapixels and inherited some of the architecture that made the rear cameras so formidable. Long story short, your selfies are going to look lovely. — Engadget

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On the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual 12MP cameras:

What they offer is real, true, actual zoom on a smartphone. It’s only 2x optical zoom, plus digital zoom up to 10x, but it makes a big difference. Hiking in the redwoods, I’d take a snap from the ground, then zoom in and appear to be shooting from among the branches. I could also take portraits without standing creepy-close, which made friends and loved ones happy. Both cameras capture data every time you hit the shutter, and the images stitch together to achieve even more noise reduction and quality assurance. — Wired

Everything else about the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are things that you would expect to see with a generational jump. The batteries last longer, the A10 Fusion SoC provides snappier performance and the displays are a bit brighter with better color representation (however, they still retain the 1080p and 750p display resolutions). And we can’t forget that that both smartphones include IP67 dust and water resistance.

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One thing to keep in mind — you’re probably going to want to stay away from the Jet Black finish. It basically scratches if you look at it wrong and it’s a fingerprint magnet. You can put it in a case (which hides the cool finish) or just get the new “Black” as a compromise.

In summary, Wired perhaps sums up the iPhone 7 and iPhone the best, writing:

So, no, the iPhone 7 won’t blow your mind with its design or features. It’s still a fantastic phone. And philosophically, it feels like Apple is throwing open a door. The iPhone 7 might not be a revolution, but it might be the catalyst for lots of them. Your phone will be better in a few months, and even better a few months after that. And wouldn’t that be exciting?

So, the iPhone 7 isn’t the best thing since sliced bread — maybe Apple is leaving that for the iPhone's 10th anniversary next year…