iPhone 7 Plus: Reviewed 4 Months Later
Most reviews are written after just a few hours or days with a device, but I've been using this phone daily for 4 months now. I bought the 256gb black version of the iPhone 7 Plus right after it was released. The honeymoon period is over. I know what's good and what I wish were better. Let's jump right in.
✋ Size, Look and Feel
The iPhone 7 Plus is definitely a large phone. It has 5.5 inch display (measured diagonally) with a significant bezel around it.
What makes a great phone size is almost completely personal preference. I'd already been using this phone size for two years (the 6 Plus) when I bought the 7 Plus, so the large size wasn't a problem for me at all.
Anecdotally, people who switch to the Plus size tend to like the larger screen. My wife switched from the relatively tiny 5s to the 7 Plus this year. So I just asked her what she thought of the larger phone. This was her response.
I was concerned about it being too big because I have small hands, but I like it. There are some times when I have to grip the phone with two hands to do something with it, but it's not a big deal.
As far as look and feel, the 7 and 7 Plus are very similar to the 6 and 6s lines. They have the same basic size and design, but there are two new color choices—black and jet black. I went with the black (pictured above), and it's my favorite iPhone design to date.
📸 Camera and Portrait Mode
The most noticeable difference between the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus (apart from screen size) is the camera. The iPhone 7 Plus has two lenses that work together to make a better picture. One is wide angle and the other telephoto (if you accept Apple's broad definition of telephoto haha).
Having two lenses with different focal lengths makes it possible to have 2x optical zoom along with the typical 10x digital zoom.
The dual-lens system also supports Portrait Mode. This mode ads a bokeh-like blurred background to improve emphasis on your subject. It's aptly name "Portrait Mode" because it works best on people.
Here are some Portrait Mode photos I pulled at random from my photo library.
🏃 Speed and Responsiveness
After two years with the 6 Plus, it definitely felt sluggish. Four months into the 7 Plus, and it's still as snappy as ever. Apple's custom chipsets is one of its biggest differentiators. Most competing smartphones run on the same off-the-shelf chips from Qualcomm.
🙅 No Headphone Jack
There's no headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I've talked to a lot people about this change. People have strong feelings about this design decision. Many are upset and inconvenienced by it, while others have barely noticed.
The tech press reported this as a huge misstep by Apple, and this missing port was the focus of pretty much every review I watched or read.
Despite all the bad press, it doesn't seem to have had an effect on sales. Apple sold 78 million iPhones last quarter. That's a record.
My tweet about this topic after Apple earnings were reported was picked up by Daring Fireball and sparked some passionate discussion.
I know waterproofing has been available on Android phones for ages (noticeably missing from the Pixel), but it's a welcome addition the the iPhone. It simplifies things. If I'm caught out in the rain or spill a drink or whatever, I don't have to worry about ruining an expensive phone.
🔋 Battery Life and Screen Quality
Battery life is an hour better than it was on the 6S Plus. That's a significant improvement that we can all get behind, but I still have to plug my phone in during the day, if I want it to last until I go to bed.
Apple made a big deal about the brighter, more colorful display this year. It's some really cool tech, but in my opinion, screen quality is something normal people don't notice right away.
Apple improves it incrementally. Most people can't tell the difference year over year. But after a few years go buy, the older phones appear dramatically worse. It's this type of incremental improvement that Apple does incredibly well.
📱 Unmoving Home Button
The home button is just a piece of glass now. It doesn't move at all. Haptic feedback makes it feel like you're pressing a button, even though you aren't.
It took me a few hours to get used to this change, and now I prefer it. Although it is a strange sensation when I press the home button and it doesn't "move" because my phone is dead.
What I like about the iPhone 7 Plus.
- New color choices
- 256gb option
- Screen size/quality
- Home button
What I wish was better and hope to see in the next iPhone.
- Battery life (It's good, but it could be better.)
- Bezel (I'd love to see that bezel shrink or completely disappear, so that a larger screen will fit into the same footprint.)
- Same aperture on both lenses. (The telephoto has a higher [worse] aperture, and it is noticeable when I use optical zoom in low light situations.)
- Faster charging
- Truly wireless charging (I don't mean like the Apple Watch. I mean walk into your bedroom, and your phone starts to charge.)
- A radically updated industrial design.
- Some sort of Augmented Reality (AR) support
- An OLED screen (That would be a noticeable screen improvement.)
Unaltered header image from Andri Koolme.