Today’s supposed to be the day you tell your poor old iPhone, likely riddled with spiderweb cracks in the screen, that it’s finally headed to that great big drawer in the desk. After all, Apple’s announced the new iPhone 7, and it’s available for pre-order starting this Friday.
It’s not as “revolutionary” as many might have hoped for — at least on the surface. But nearly everything about it has been significantly improved, especially in the case of the bigger iPhone 7 Plus, which has quietly been tweaked into a new premium class of its own. Still, it’s understandable if the removal of one other previously overlooked constant in smartphones (a.k.a. the headphone jack) gave you some pause about making the leap.
Here’s a quick rundown of the biggest changes of note.
A Slight Makeover
Outside of a few new color options including a high-gloss stainless finish dubbed “Jet Black,” as well as a regular “Black” (which yes, both mercifully look black instead of gray), both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus look pretty similar to the iPhone 6/6s. A few details like the rearrangement of the antenna lines of the back of the device and the camera modules are other small differences.
Much Better Cameras
Speaking of camera modules, better photography is easily the biggest improvement of note with the 7 and likely the main reason to upgrade. The basic iPhone 7 is newly improved with a new 12MP sensor that’s 60 percent faster, a f/1.8 aperture lens that lets in 50 percent more light, and dedicated optical image stabilization for up to 3x longer exposure — but its taller sibling got the more interesting improvement. It includes two 12MP cameras paired with a dedicated wide-angle and telephoto lens, the latter of which finally brings up to 2x optical zooming to the world of mobile photography en masse. Apple’s also figured out a way to leverage both lenses and some smart software to add more depth of field to shots via a special photo style called “portrait.” However, this shooting mode won’t ship with the iPhone and will be rolled out via a software update later.
Both units also sport improved 7MP front-facing cameras as well as new True Tone flashes that produce 50 percent more light with the help of two warm and two cool color lights each. There’s even support for RAW camera files.
It’s Finally Water and Dust Resistant
Apple’s answered the prayers of accident-prone users and frustrated Genius Bar employees alike by adding IP67 certification to the iPhone 7 (which competitors like Samsung have offered for years). It’s not the kind of thing to kill off the waterproof case market completely, but spilling your drink should no longer be an issue.
It’s Got More Storage
Apple increased the minimum storage level of the iPhone from 16GB up to 32GB, and now offers a new 256GB tier for digital hoarders who have trust issue with the cloud.
Faster, Better Screen, Stereo Speakers and Improved Battery Life
The phone’s new A10 Fusion four-core CPU is 40x faster than the A9 found in the 6s and far more power efficient — apparently giving the iPhone 7 up to 2 more hours of life compared to the 6s. Apple’s going so far as to call it “the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone.” The screen is also 25 percent brighter, supports 3D touch and offers a wider color palette, while two integrated speakers at the top and bottom of the device finally bring stereo sound to the party.
Home Button Is a Force Touch Trackpad
Just like Apple’s recent laptops, which eliminated the physical button on the trackpad, the new iPhone 7 leverages haptic feedback technology and advanced sensors to mimic the feel of a button without actually using a physical button.
It Doesn’t Have a Headphone Jack
Rumors around this have been swirling for months, so the final reveal shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has glanced at the internet recently. Yes, the iPhone 7 has ditched the headphone jack in favor of connecting wired headphones via its proprietary Lighting port. While several headphone makers already offer headphones that support this connection, chances are there are a lot more are on the way. Apple is also including a free Lightning-to-3.5mm adaptor with each iPhone 7 for those still clinging to the past.
The stated reason behind this decision boils down mainly to space. As phones get smaller and more advanced, the room required by the old analog port has become a hurdle for Apple’s hardware designers.