Apple iPhone 7: a long-term review

Now available in the Middle East, we get hands-on with what could be the best iPhone yet.

September 22, 2016

Scroll to the bottom to read this long-term review chronologically.


September 29, 2016

Look at those colours

We’re in love with the iPhone 7 display. It’s got this ability to display a wider range of colours that make photos taken with the iPhone 7 pop. The downside is that you can only tell the difference on your iPhone.

Granted this has more to do with the display of the phone than the camera, but Apple claims it’s the camera wizardry. Luckily for us, won’t have to speculate for long since Instagram has announced an update to support wide colour. 

Speakers

Speaking of categories in which the iPhone 7 has triumphed over its biggest competitor, we’d like to bring your attention to speakers. The iPhone 7 comes with two: one at the bottom and one pumping straight out of the earphone slot. Now, we’re not saying you should chuck your hi-end speaker out the window, but Apple’s don a great job here with the speakers so much so that we’d say these ones are on par with HTC’s Boomsound speakers.

Oh, snap!

This is what you really care about, isn’t it? Most of us only upgrade to new phones because of the better camera, well the 7 does have a better camera than the iPhone 6S. The 12-megapixel rear camera is a treat and on par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 camera (aka the best smartphone camera ever made). It’s actually really hard to tell images taken from both cameras apart, We’ve decided to go deep into this, so make sure you check our website for the first edition of camera wars.

The iPhone 7 dominates when it comes to the front camera, though. The 7-megapixel snapper can’t cover a wide area like Samsung, but images are sharper and crisper. It may not seem like much, but in a world flooded with Instagram and Snapchat stories, it’s what’s needed.


September 22, 2016

Apple's Middle East team always calls us in to their Dubai HQ to take us through any new product they launch in the region. Earlier this week we stepped into their minimalistic conference room with a slew of new goodies spread out on the table.

Now, just 10 days after we reported live from Apple’s San Francisco event where the iPhone 7 was unveiled, we get hands-on with the star of the show and see if it's worthy of the hype. 

OCD folks will have issues with the jet black version

You may have heard that the iPhone 7 comes in two new colours: black and jet black. The regular black comes with a matte finish while the jet black is glossy, and as a result it's a magnet for fingerprints. Just at our short orientation, the jet black model required constant maintenance to keep its shiny surface looking pristine.

The iPhone 7 we're reviewing below has the matte finish, which we're somewhat relieved about, but if you have OCD tendencies then keep in mind the jet black's cleanliness issues, and don't just opt for it because it sounds cooler.

Yes, there’s no headphone jack. Move on

We knew about Apple’s plan to put the headphone jack to pasture over four months ago, and it's really not a big deal. Few people, if any, use their headphones while charging their device, so it’s unlikely that the provided Type-C wired headphones will be any kind of hindrance.

However, realising that the change would require a period of transition and anticipating everyone’s collective moaning, Apple has thrown in a regular headphone adapter dongle so you can still use your standard issue headphones.

Which leaves you with two options. A) You take your time to get on board with Type-C headphones. B) You embrace the wireless future and wait for the AirPods to arrive, or buy one of the best wireless headphones on the market. But remember, the absence of a headphone jack is not the end of the world. 

Long way home

The home button on the iPhone 7 feels alien and takes some getting used to, probably because it’s not really a button. Instead, it’s simply a solid state circle where the home button used to be.

Like in the MacBook trackpad, the button works on haptic feedback. For the uninitiated, this basically means that the phone vibrates when you press the home button, tricking your brain into feeling a click.

On the MacBook we found this to be a stellar change, not so much for the iPhone 7. You can decide the vibration intensity, but it doesn’t quite replace that satisfying click of the older button.

The exclusion of the button though has a two-fold appeal to Apple. Firstly, no button means there's no button to be fixed and replaced when it breaks. And secondly, Apple’s larger goal: water-resistance.

However, you should know that the home button isn’t functional while wearing gloves. This probably isn’t a problem for us in the Middle East but it's something you should keep in mind if you're a regular skier, or just enjoy keeping your digits warm. 

iOS 10 and battery life

We’ve already touched upon the best features of the iOS 10. The iPhone 7 lets you take full advantage of the new OS which also improves the phone’s battery life. That’s a big deal because despite having some extra space thanks to the absence of a headphone jack, Apple hasn’t done anything to drastically enhance the battery.

At best, the new iPhone will go on for an hour longer than its predecessor, the iPhone 6S.