The release of the iPhone 7 last year was considered something of a disappointment in some quarters. Many believe that the latest Apple mobile is not a big enough progression from previous releases in the series. Apple stands accused of a conservative ethos recently, but does this mean that some of its older devices are actually better buys than the recent iPhone 7?
Here we assess the phablet version of the iPhone 7 lineup, comparing the iPhone 7 Plus to the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 Plus.
iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 6S Plus vs iPhone 6 Plus – Size
The Apple iPhone 6S Plus measures 158.1 x 77.9 x 7.3mm and weighs 192g, while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1mm and is 20 grammes lighter at 172g. This means that the oldest of these three phablet devices is the most slimline, with the newest iPhone 7 Plus almost identical in size to its predecessor. It has literally the same dimensions as the iPhone 6S Plus, but is marginally lighter at 188g.
There has been a steady evolution of the Apple phablet over its last three generations, but there are one or two explicit design differences as well. Apple has most notably relocated the bands of the antenna to the rear of the device in the iPhone 7 Plus. This latest phablet is also IP67 water and dust resistant, meaning that it is more durable and flexible.
Two new colors were also announced for the iPhone 7 generation, with consumers now able to purchase the phablet in striking Jet Black and Black variants. However, Apple also phased out Space Grey when the iPhone 7 was released.
In terms of the quality of display that Apple has included in the iPhone Plus devices over the years, there is absolutely no difference whatsoever! All of these phablet releases feature a 5.5-inch screen with full HD resolution. The iPhone 7 Plus does emit more light than either of the other two devices, which results in a brighter display. But this is one area on which there will be huge pressure for Apple to improve the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
The pressure-sensitive 3D Touch technology debuted in the iPhone 6S generation, meaning that both the iPhone 6S Plus and iPhone 7 Plus benefit from this system.
This is another area in which the iPhone 7 Plus significantly outperforms either of its predecessors. Apple had been guilty of neglecting the photographic capabilities of the iPhone range according to some critics, but this was profoundly addressed when the iPhone 7 was released.
The iPhone 7 Plus phablet is notable for the dual-camera setup that was a brand new feature in the iPhone 7 generation. Both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S have single-lens cameras, although the more recent iPhone 6S Plus features a 12-megapixel rear camera compared to the 8-megapixel snapper of the iPhone 6 Plus.
There are other differences between the two older variants of this phablet as well. 4K video recording was introduced in the iPhone 6S generation, while the front-facing camera in the iPhone 6 Plus is 5-megapixels, compared to the 1.2-megapixels of the iPhone 6 Plus.
However, the iPhone 7 Plus also has the edge in other camera specs. The wide-angle lens has an aperture of f/1.8; superior to either of the early releases. Meanwhile, the telephoto lens included in the device features an aperture of f/2.8, enabling optical zoom at 2x and digital zoom up to 10x. Quad-LED True Tone flash, body and face detection, wide color capture for photos and Live Photos all also feature in the portfolio of features included in the iPhone 7 Plus, resulting in what is undoubtedly the best photographic device that Apple has ever released.
This is an area in which one would obviously expect improvements over the years, and there is no doubt that the iPhone 7 Plus arrives with the most sophisticated processor. The A10 Fusion processor included in the iPhone 7 Plus is the most powerful unit that Apple has ever utilized in a smartphone. This quad-core 2.34 GHz (2x Hurricane and 2x Zephyr) processor certainly outperforms either of its two preceding cousins.
The iPhone 6S Plus benefited from a dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister, while the earlier iPhone 6 Plus was armed with a dual-core 1.4 GHz Typhoon, which was ARM v8-based. One can see that there is nearly a 1 GHz gap between the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6 Plus, meaning a significant gulf in performance.
Another area where Apple has steadily inched up the capabilities of the iPhone Plus range is in the amount of memory offered. The mere 1GB of memory included in the original iPhone 6 Plus now seems extremely minimal. There is three times this amount of memory in the recent iPhone 7 Plus release, while even the iPhone 6S Plus had double this amount at 2GB.
Bizarrely enough, the iPhone 6 Plus actually features the largest battery of these three phablet releases. This seems completely counter-intuitive considering that it is usual to increase specs over time. But the non-removable Li-Ion 2,915 mAh battery in the iPhone 6 Plus is indeed 15 mAh larger than the cell that Apple opted for once the iPhone 7 Plus was released.
However, this is slightly misleading, as memory deficiencies and software innovations enable the iPhone 7 Plus to run for a longer spell on a single charge. But the performance gap between this and a smartphone that is two years old is not as big as one might expect.
Finally, there have been significant software updates since the iPhone 6 Plus was released. Live Photos and 3D Touch functions are particularly notable, while improvements to the iOS operating system means that the iPhone 7 is undoubtedly the slickest of the three devices.
Despite the reputation of the iPhone 7 as being a conservative upgrade, when one examines the three generations of the iPhone Plus range, it becomes evident that Apple has made more improvements over the years then we perhaps recall. 3D Touch is perhaps the biggest innovation, although this is also present in the iPhone 6S Plus. The hugely improved photographic experience with the iPhone 7 Plus is also a big selling point, while the faster processor and longer battery life of the newest smartphone can also be praised. Both the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6S Plus may offer affordable price tags, but the true iPhone experience is now only available in the iPhone 7 Plus.