Apple just introduced the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the latest iterations of its premium smartphone. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus look remarkably similar to the phones they replace -- this is the smallest generational design shift in the iPhone's history -- but that's not to say nothing has changed.
The antenna bands on the back of the previous models have been made more discreet; they now hug the edges of the device. This repositioning has allowed Apple to squeeze in larger camera bumps on the back.
For the first time in the iPhone's history, the new phones are "water and dust resistant," up to IP67 (i.e. splash proof, not submersible) . As we expected, there's no headphone port to be seen, but there's at least a stereo speaker for the first time. The home button no longer physically clicks in, but a haptic feedback mechanism will trick your finger into thinking it has.
One area that Apple has traditionally excelled in is cameras, but with the Galaxy S7 and Note 7, Samsung basically caught up this year, even besting the 6S and 6S Plus in some areas. To that end, Apple's thrown improved cameras in both its new phones. Up front, for both devices, the new "FaceTime HD" camera ups the resolution from 5 to 7 megapixels. The big ticket item for the smaller model -- following the addition of 4K video last year -- is a new f/1.8 12-megapixel "low-light loving" camera with optical image stabilization. There's also a new four-color LED flash, and a "flicker-sensor" to avoid flickering lights in videos, and apple says shutter lag is down to 25 milliseconds.
OIS has been around in the larger iPhone models since their introduction, so with that ace removed from its sleeve, the 7 Plus is getting a new feature to differentiate itself: a dual-camera system. The new cameras, both at 12-megapixels. operate together in ways we've seen before from other manufacturers. They're set at different focal lengths -- one wide, the other telephoto -- which allows you to "optically zoom" to 2x by switching cameras. You do this by tapping on a button above the on-screen shutter key, and you can also swipe across to digital zoom up to 10x. We saw a similar trick used to great effect with the LG G5, and with Apple's penchant for high quality optics and sensors, it's likely to be even better here.
The dual lenses also allow you to play with depth of field. When you're taking a photo, you can select a "portrait mode" that with a bit of (okay, probably a lot of) processing you'll be able to choose different points of focus and add effects like blurry backgrounds. It's not quite a Lytro, but again it's something we've seen work fairly well in past phones (namely HTC's One M8).
It would be remiss of Apple to let you look at those photos you've stored onlast year's screen, and so it's improving both models' displays. There's no resolution bump -- we're still talking 1334 x 750 for the 4.7-inch 7 and 1920 x 1080 for the 5.5-inch 7 Plus -- but there is an improvement in color gamut. Both phones now support the P3 color space, which debuted on the iMac range before heading to the iPad Pro 9.7.
P3 is a cinematic standard, and it covers a color range 25 percent larger than the sRGB gamut used in the 6S. There's an argument to be made -- and it's been made, believe me -- that Apple should've gone with the widely used Adobe RGB gamut, which is similar in size but covers more green and blue than P3. But Apple is sticking to its guns. As for what all this means for you, dear reader: You'll see much deeper reds and yellows than you would previously, which is handy for viewing images with red-and-yellow things (white people, sunsets, fall leaves) in them.
What better way to enjoy your... okay I give up on segues. Apple killed the headphone jack. It's betting that the future of headphones is wireless, and that's a fair bet. But the vast majority of headphones in stores (and in homes) are wired. To remedy that, it's introducing wireless earphones called "AirPods," as well as packing in Lightning EarPods and this beautiful and super elegant Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter in the box:
Apple says it's doing this because it has the "courage to move on, do something new that betters all of us." To be clear, history is very much on Apple's side when it comes to dropping old technology for the new. It's axed the VGA port, the floppy drive and the optical drive, all to condemnation from various circles. With those drops, it eventually proved correct, and the chances are that, eventually, it'll prove correct here, too. But it's going to be a painful transition for many.
The new iPhones will be available on September 16th, with pre-orders set to open today.