After more than a year of speculation, Apple’s new iPhones are finally here. Predictably named the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple’s twin gadgets are glass-and-aluminum reflections of what’s come before. But in the few places where Apple does makes some changes, it makes some big ones.
For the first time ever, the new iPhone sticks with a mostly familiar design for three years running. But despite that exterior sameness, Apple does makes a gutsy gamble on improving, and completely removing, core features that have been part of the iPhone for nearly a decade. And yeah, it also comes in glossy black.
For better or worse, this is the 2016 iPhone.
As is tradition, Jony Ive delivered a wonderfully psychotic video to introduce the new iPhone, focusing on the new gloss finish and the redesigned camera housing. Apple’s Phil Schiller then ran down all the changes live on stage.
First up was design, Schiller confirmed what we already knew. Space Grey is out and Black is in. Apple also completely redesigned the home button, which has been the sole to navigational button on the iPhone since 2007. Schiller says the new button is more reliable and customizable.With a new generation taptic engine, the button is now Force Touch sensitive. There are unique feedback for messages, notifications, and ringtones. It’s a little vague exactly how this all works, but we’ll know more soon.
And a much needed feature is also here—the iPhone is now toilet proof. Apple says its re-engineered the casing so that the phone can survive much H20 plunges. Many accident-prone people rejoiced.
Apple focused heavily on making the two camera systems in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Each phone now comes with optical image stabilization and f/1.8 aperture lens for muuuuch better low-light photography (hopefully). Apple also reworked the flash to make it brighter and able to capture true tones and its image processor for better editing. It can perform 100 billion operations in just 25 milliseconds.
With iOS 10, you can finally capture RAW photos and the front-facing camera comes with a 7-megapixel sensor, an upgrade from 5 megapixels on the iPhone 6s.
Finally, Schiller gets to the two megapixel cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus. One is a normal lens and the other is a telephoto lens. Schiller explains that this new camera system can build a zoom feature into the iPhone. When in the camera app, a new button can zoom 2x instantly with just a tap. After 2x, however, further zoom relies on software. But because of the added telephoto lens, the images are much clearer than before.
The dual camera can also create an almost machine learning to create a depth map. After selecting the camera app’s new “portrait” mode, you’ll immediately see the depth effect in real time. Of course, we haven’t really get to see the effect in real time on stage yet, but the photographic results Schiller did show looked damn good.
This feature will come as a software update to all iPhone 7 Plus users.
As you’ve likely guessed, Apple is sticking with an LCD Retina display, though much like the Apple Watch Series 2, it’s brighter than the screen on the the iPhone 6s.
Then finally, Schiller got to the giant elephant in the room—audio. Apple couched the impending bad news by first talking about improved stereo speakers. Then came the Lightning-only earpods. Goodbye, headphone jacks.
Schiller made certain we knew that there were over 900 million Lightning-connected devices from companies like JBL. But what if I wanted to use my headphones on not an iPhone, like a Mac for instance. Luckily, Apple will be including an audio jack adaptor in every box for the iPhone 7. Get prepared to lose it!
Schiller quickly began to explain the madness:
“The reason to move on comes down to one word—courage,” Schiller explained. “This is really important, our smartphones are packed with technologies…it’s all fighting for space. Maintaining an ancient analog connector doesn’t make sense.”
Apple says its vision for audio will be wireless. Hence, Apple AirPods. Apple’s new ear gear will work for up to 5 hours on a single charge and it’s included case will brings that number up to a full day. When you open the case, the iPhone immediately recognizes the AirPods. All you have to do is press “connect.”
Schiller says this is all possible because of a new chip called the W1. The AirPods can be set up so one pod answers calls or summons Siri and the sound is intelligently routed to the right ear. In addition to the AirPods, Beats will also use the W1 chip in the new Beats Solo Wireless, Powerbeats 3 Wireless, and a new line called Beats X.
Finally, Schiller closed up things with the new A10 Fusion chip. It’s a 64-bit quad-core processor. Two cores are high-performance, so they can run 40 percent faster than the iPhone 6s and twice as fast as the iPhone 6. If you want to keep playing this game, it’s 120 times faster than the original 2007 iPhone. The other cores are “high-efficiency” to handle lighter applications for better battery life. The new graphics chip is also 50 percent faster than the iPhone 6s.
Of course, these are all just numbers. Hopefully these impressive specs translate to impressive real-world use.