Key Features

  • Screen: 4.7-inch
  • Resolution: 1334×750 (326ppi)
  • Processor: Apple A10 Fusion
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 32 /128 / 256 GB
  • Operating system: iOS 10
  • Camera: 12MP rear camera, 7MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fiac, NFC, IR, Bluetooth 4.2, Lightning and GPS
  • Dimensions: 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm
  • Weight: 138g

Design

There is no doubt that the iPhone 7 is not a massive physical departure from the last generation in the series. There is an obvious physical resemblance between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S, and in fact the device looks pretty much exactly the same as the iPhone 6 from 2014.

Apple has removed the antenna lines from the back of the previous models, ensuring that they blend more pleasingly into the main body of the device. The camera bulge has also been enlarged, and is now less obviously curved into the rear casing of the handset. And, probably most notably, there is no headphone jack included in the iPhone 7, as will be discussed later in this review.

The major design alteration here is that the iPhone is now water resistant, which is a pleasing addition to the range. However, it has been noted that it is not fully waterproof, and that submerging the iPhone 7 in a meter of water for in excess of 30 minutes could end in disaster.

Thus, the iPhone 7 is definitely an evolution not a revolution in design terms.

Display

Firstly, it is something of a disappointment that Apple has decided against improving the resolution of the iPhone 7 smartphone. The resolution of 1,334 x 750 and pixel density of 326ppi perhaps appears a little underpowered compared to some of the smartphones available on the market.

iPhone 7

But Apple has improved the brightness and clarity of the iPhone 7 display, and this is indeed noticeable. Apple now uses the wider DCI-P3 color gamut with the iPhone range, previously utilized in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and iMac, while also popular with Hollywood filmmakers. Color reproduction is unquestionably improved and that is unequivocally a good thing.

This translates into a pleasing improvement in video playback, which when coupled with increased sound capabilities means that the iPhone 7 is an excellent device for bingeing on movies. The graphics for gaming also impress, and there is no doubt that the display represents a significant step forward over the last generation of this device.

Speakers

This is arguably one area in which the iPhone 7 can score significantly over the Samsung Galaxy range, with the Korean manufacturer having never really mastered the speaker system in its flagship smartphones. Thus, the iPhone 7 has attempted to emulate the stereo Boomsound speakers included in the HTC 10, and while this does result in improvement, it is not as successful as that particular system.

The iPhone 7 does offer powerful sound reproduction, being capable of pumping out very loud music. There are two speakers included with this device, with one located at the bottom of the handset and one at the top of the device. However, the lack of space afforded to the speakers on the iPhone 7 means that the low-end sound reproduction can be a little sub-par. Those who desire some serious bass would be advised to invest in top quality headphones or portable speakers.

Nonetheless, this new speaker system ranks alongside some of the best in the smartphone niche.

Camera

Apple has improved the camera in the iPhone 7, with optical image stabilization ensuring that it is a significant step forward over previous models. Operation is faster than in the iPhone 6S generation, with the brighter f/1.8 lens also delivering performance improvements. The result is considerably sharper photographs, making the iPhone 7 a considerably more enjoyable device to use for taking pictures.

iPhone 7

Low-light performance is also much better than in either the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S, meaning that this camera is an excellent all-rounder. The iPhone 7 can also be praised for delivering a superb 7-megapixel selfie camera that competes pretty favorably with virtually all other comparable handsets.

ALSO CHECK: The iPhone 7 Plus Review

However, the fact that the dual-camera from the iPhone 7 Plus has not migrated to this smartphone is a real black mark against the photographic capabilities of the device.

AirPods and music playback

Perhaps the biggest difference between the iPhone 7 and previous releases in the series is the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack. This was widely expected before the device was ever released, but it still represents a bold step by Apple.

The California consumer electronics giant clearly intends for users to purchase the new Apple AirPods, which have been developed on a new wireless standard. However, it should be emphasized that this is not necessary in order to acquire audio on the iPhone 7, something that Apple has done a poor job publicizing (for rather obvious reasons).

Despite Apple pushing AirPods quite strongly, the sound quality delivered by these peripherals does not feel like a massive step forward over previous releases. It seems as if Apple is testing the water with wireless music playback in the iPhone 7, essentially providing a foundation for future releases in the series.

iPhone 7 review: Home button

The Home button is certainly a key feature in the iPhone 7 generation, with this long-standing aspect of the smartphone benefiting from the new and improved Taptic Engine. The iPhone 7 Home button is indeed far more than merely a button, enabling feedback to be achieved via various button-pressing mechanisms.

This new system can be a little fiddly to get used to at first. The way that the Home button reacts to touch does not feel entirely naturalistic for a while. But with practice and experience it is soon possible to access various functions via this new system.

iPhone 7 review back

A downside of the system, though, is that it requires skin-to-glass contact, meaning that it cannot be operated with gloves, for example. But the all new Home button in the iPhone 7 is definitely an innovation, and one that becomes more useful the longer that you own and operate this smartphone.

iOS 10

iOS already has a massive reputation as an operating system, and Apple is building on extremely firm foundations with every new version of this software. This year’s version of iOS delivers significant changes to Notifications, while the system has also been generally improved. Previews and quick replies ensure that Notifications are now significantly more intuitive, essentially speeding up the whole iPhone experience.

Meanwhile, widgets have been tweaked in the iOS 10 generation, with the left-hand panel on the home screen displaying a raft that were previously unavailable. These can also be customized to ensure that the individual user has access to the most useful features for their particular needs.

Apple could provide more customization options, and Control Center is still a bit too tied down and unwieldy. But those who love previous versions of iOS will soon get to grips with this improved version.

Battery Life

This is arguably one of the most important areas of the iPhone 7, with Apple having been regularly criticised over the paltry battery life of previous smartphones. But has the corporation managed to rectify the situation with the iPhone 7?

The answer is that this smartphone is a marginal improvement over previous devices in the series, but many users still report a disappointing level of battery life. Apple has made hardware and software improvements in order to ensure that the cell included in the iPhone 7 has a longer lifecycle. But the fact that the battery included in the iPhone 7 is little larger than previous generations means that improvements to battery life were always going to be minimal.

iPhone 7 Review Side

Unfortunately, we cannot conclude that the iPhone 7 delivers a decent length of battery life. One can expect to charge the iPhone 7 on a very regular basis, dependent on individual usage, and for a market-leader this is a rather poor state of affairs. Apple still hasn’t silenced its battery life critics, and there will be massive pressure on the mega-corporation to indeed achieve this with the iPhone 8.

Color options

Finally, the iPhone 7 comes with five color options: Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black and Jet Black. The same basic principles apply as outlined in our previous iPhone 7 Plus review, but it is worth particularly noting that the Jet Black version of this smartphone is hugely vulnerable to scratches and fingerprints.

Verdict

No one could reasonably claim that the iPhone 7 is a revolution in the series, and indeed criticisms of the device have mostly been focused on its conservative nature. The look and feel of the device is undeniably similar to previous models in the series, and despite upgrades being included, these are more minor tweaks rather than a significant shift in the overall iPhone experience.

The water resistance, wireless music playback, brighter display, more powerful specs, alongside an upgraded camera, are all welcome, and do make the iPhone 7 an entirely viable purchase. But the iPhone 7 feels more like an S upgrade than a model that should attract an entirely new number.

iPhone 7 Review Front
Image by Sheeraz Raza for ValueWalk

It is also disappointing that Apple did not include a dual-camera in the smartphone-sized version of this generation, while the battery life is still sub-optimal.

Nonetheless, this is undoubtedly one of the slickest smartphones available on the market. It is an improvement over the previous iPhone generation, and it does deliver an outstanding mobile experience. The quibbles about the iPhone 7 are more related to what is not included rather than what is included. It must also be stated that the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6 potentially represent better value for money now that their price tags have been shaved.

Pros: Waterproof, excellent camera, improved display, Taptic Engine.

Cons: Poor battery life, slow charging, lack of customization options