This Tech Editor is Passing on the iPhone 7, Here's Why You Should Too
If you're like me, it's hard to resist the annual siren song of new Apple products. As much as I like many other tech brands, I love Apple.
I love the way Apple designs its products, and I think the company pushes their competitors to innovate better in order to keep up -- the first iPhone is a great example of this. So every time Apple has a press conference, I watch with great interest. I'm not a total Kool-Aid drinker -- I passed on the Apple Watch -- but I have been mostly happy with the progress Apple has made with each new iPhone design.
But the iPhone 7? I'm not so sure.
I'm currently two iPhone generations behind, so my impulse to upgrade is somewhat rational. My smartphone is two years old and up for an upgrade, why wouldn't I jump to the next level? That's what everyone else does! The problem, is that I'm not sure the next level is all that great, especially compared to what I have now. Here's why I don't think I'll be giving up my iPhone 6 just yet.
The phone looks exactly the same.
Apple claims that the elimination of the iPhone 7's headphone jack allowed them to improve design. But the iPhone 7 is exactly the same size as the 6 and the 6s, with exactly the same dimensions. Yes, it's lighter, but by literally five grams! Unless you feel like your current model feels one-sheet-of-paper too heavy, this isn't exactly a win for Apple. If you do feel that way, please get to a gym.
The elimination of the jack also didn't make any more room for a bigger battery. From what I can tell, the new battery is only slightly better.
The one new feature that the lack of jack does allow for is water resistance. Getting rid of that allowed them to better seal the phone, so if you accidentally experience the dreaded toilet drop, you no longer have to stick it in a bowl of dry rice for 24 hours and say a prayer to the god of your choice in order to (maybe) revive it. But come on, should we really have our phones out during "business time" in the first place? They're already cesspools of germs and disease, why up the ante even more?
Plus, even with a waterproof exterior, I'm still not going swimming with my iPhone in my pocket. That's just asking for trouble. While it's a great feature, it's not one I have been begging for. I can wait on that one.
The "new" colors aren't very new.
Both new colors are just black—one shiny; one not. Seriously, besides Apple employees, who actually cares? Let's move on.
Again, there's no headphone jack!
If you've been online at any point during the last week, you'll know this is very controversial. Some people are praising Apple for being forward-thinking and ditching old, obsolete technology. Most people find this new development annoying, and a small but smart group of people are saying it could be a sneaky way for Apple to exert more control over how and where you are able to listen to your music. For that reason alone it may be worthwhile to give it a year on the market to see how the digital right management (DRM) issue plays out. If Apple uses the Lightning port to block playback on certain devices, get ready to watch the class action lawsuits fly.
Closer to home, there's an even more practical issue with using the lightning port for both charging and listening. As I write this article, I am listening to Pandora on my iPhone 6 while charging it at the same time. A lot of people do that, especially at work. If I had the iPhone 7, I could not do that, since the Lightning port is also the headphone port. The only way I could is if I had Bluetooth headphones or earphones, or if I paid $40 for a double lightning port. I don't care for being forced to make either of those purchases that right now.
It has a better camera (but I don't care).
Each generation of iPhone gets better camera features, but the 7 is making much bigger jumps from the iPhone 6s than the 6s did from the 6. The iPhone 7 now features 1080p HD recording and a 7MP front camera (the 6s had a 5MP front camera) and a better image processor. The rear camera stays at 12MP but offers optical image stabilization (previously it was software based, which is not as good) and has a new 6-element lens. It also has a four LED flash with cool and warm tones to help improve photos in low light situations. If you opt for the 7 Plus, you get the dual lens system, which gives you a 2X optical zoom, which is a first for the iPhone.
I admit these are all great improvements, and if photography is the favorite feature of your iPhone, it may be worth the upgrade. For me personally? It's really not. The truth is, I don't use my iPhone to support a second career in freelance photography. The camera on my iPhone is very good and gets the job done with the results I want. I mean, how much aesthetic critique can we give to my bar selfies and pictures of other people's dogs? (I suffer from pet envy, I don't want to talk about it.)
I don't care how many professional photographers Apple paid to call the iPhone 7 a "game changer" at their press conference. None of them are getting rid of their DSLRs and expensive lenses anytime soon. Also, my circle of friends doesn't look anywhere near as hip and cool as those "fell-out-of-an-H&M-catalog" models Apple finds for its advertisements, so I don't need the upgraded optics to capture my spontaneously artistic moments outside of artisanal cupcake bakeries.
There's more processing power and speed, which I don't really need.
Hands down, the iPhone 7 has a better processor. It uses the new A10 Fusion chipset with a Quad Core CPU and Six Core GPU. This is a jump from the Dual Core A9, and Apple claims that it increases performance from 40 to 50 percent. If true, that's great. But I find my iPhone 6 to be pretty speedy, and I am a heavy user of apps, which probably won't stop until I finally catch a friggin' Pikachu. There's still a lot of life in my processor, so I don't seen any need to upgrade based on that alone.
Storage may be a different matter for you. Apple finally got rid of 16GB models and now have a 256GB model, so if you have been clamoring for that, you got your wish. Apple also lowered the price a bit on the 128GB models, meaning you can get more storage at a more reasonable price. That's a good thing. However, after almost two years, I am still only two-thirds full on my 64GB iPhone 6, probably because I use streaming audio and cloud-based services to listen to music and podcasts. While running out of storage used to be a problem for me when I had 16GB, it hasn't been an issue with the 64, so getting more storage isn't a reason to upgrade in my mind.
My iPhone 6 will do just fine, thanks. Until next time, Apple.