Apple is said to be planning some big changes to the upcoming iPhone 8. By now, it's clear that the period of three years of unchanged iPhone design is coming to an end this year and Apple will introduce a radical new look for its new iPhone. A recent report by the usually very reliable Wall Street Journal
and its customary 'people familar with the matter' unveils some welcome details around all that, but it also suggests an unexpected and surprising move: Apple switching away from the Lightning port that the company introduced with the iPhone 5
nearly five years ago and replacing it by the USB-C standard that is more universal and now increasingly common on laptops and higher-end Android phones. And we have some significant doubts that this particular part of the report is wrong and the reason is a simple misunderstanding on the part of the reporter.
Here is the curious part of the Wall Street Journal's report (emphasis ours):
A possible misunderstanding by a WSJ reported has everyone confusedThis rather clumsy paragraph conveys a somewhat confusing message: it does not explicitly say that the new Apple iPhone will come with a USB-C port, but instead says that there will be new USB-C power cords, and then clearly suggests that this new USB-C cord will replace (notice the word 'instead') the Lightning connector. All of this leaves the reader with only one logical conclusion to make: Lightning is being replaced by USB-C on the iPhone itself. Weirdly, though, rather than directly saying this, author Takashi Mochizuki leaves it up to the reader to make such conclusions. Such lack of clarity is disturbing and suggests the author itself is not completely sure about this move. Furthermore, it lacks important specifics: would this change affect only the futuristic, curved-screen iPhone 8? Or is this coming to all three rumored new iPhones for 2017 (including the two cheaper and more traditional rumored iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus)?
While we do not have any inside sources about this, we have some other solid reasons for doubt.
First, we know the following: Apple has been using the Lightning port on all of its iPhones since the iPhone 5 and on all iPads since the 4th gen iPad and the iPad mini. The 8-pin Lightning connector has been the universal standard for Apple mobile devices for years. So has it gotten old and outdated? Not really: Apple has just recently started supporting full USB 3.0 speeds via the Lightning connector on its 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Apple has not moved away from Lightning, it has only embraced it closer recently
Contrary to what this rumor suggests, in the past few months Apple has done the opposite of moving away from Lightning: it has embraced the connector even more closely. The company has just recently started equipping all of its millions of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus devices with Lightning-connected EarPods. It has made millions of Lightning connected Beats headphones. The new AirPods also rely on the Lightning connector for charging. Products like the Apple Pencil, the Apple TV, and many others all rely on the Lightning connector.
So is there even one area where Apple is actually using the USB-C connector? In fact, there is: its new Macbooks (both the airy 12-inch model and the new Pro ones) only feature USB-C ports. Apple clearly sees this as the new standard, only not for iOS devices, but for its Mac computers.
A USB-C power cord could replace USB-A, not Lightning on iPhones
Many users were flabbergasted by this discrepancy: the new iPhone ships with a Lightning to USB-A cable, so it is impossible to hook it up to a new Mac. It is this exact dissonance that we think Apple is after fixing by shipping a new cable with the next iPhone, one where USB-C is not used on the iPhone side, but on the other end. So yes, the report might be right in saying that new iPhones will ship with a power cord that has a USB-C cord - we have no reasons to doubt WSJ's inside sources - but it will not replace Lightning, it will most likely replace the currently used USB-A connector on the other side.
Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus review key takeaways
Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus review key takeaways
1. Lots of display improvements
One of the features of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus that you will definitely make the most use of are their displays because that's easily what we interact with the most. Knowing that, Apple definitely improved the displays on multiple fronts. First of all, both devices are capable of displaying a wider color gamut thanks to the DCI-P3 color space that is being employed. Secondly, we have a higher brightness output that allows the iPhone 7 to hit roughly 630 nits and the iPhone 7 Plus reaching a peak brightness of around 670 nits. While the fundamental properties of the displays like size and resolution have remained unchanged, the newly-introduced color reproduction and brightness improvements are more than welcome.
2. Stereo sound for everyone!
Sporting two loudspeakers - one at the bottom and the other one in the earpiece - Apple's new handsets both deliver stereo sound out of the box. Indeed, this will only make a difference for you if you never ever use headphones or earbuds and like to listen to music or watch videos on your headphones (yuck!). Still, the stereo sound separation is a welcome addition to the iPhone 7/7 Plus, albeit not perfectly executed - we found the bottom loudspeaker to be a lot louder and bassier, which makes up for a mostly unbalanced audio experience.
3. You will need to get used to the new home button
An era is now over as Apple's new iPhones dropped the good ol' physical button for a taptic feedback-enabled home button for a solid-state one. Although the taptic feedback feels great, it might not be everyone's cup of tea not because it's bad, but because is new and different. That's why it will likely require some time getting used to.
4. No headphone jack, or how you stopped worrying and learned to love the dongle
Yes, yes, this topic has been discussed a lot by now, but we still need to highlight it. While the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack is probably a non-issue for folks that don't care about listening to music or using headphones at all, the rest are definitely triggered by the fact that they need to use a dongle in order to use their old headphones or an adapter in order to charge their iPhone 7/7Plus and listen to music at the same time. We can't say we are thrilled with the removal of the headphone jack, since the new Lightning Earpods don't exactly sound any better than their analog predecessors.
5. Camera experience to die for
With each and every iPhone generation, Apple introduces a heap of novelties to its iPhones. This applies to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, too - the iSight cameras at the rear are still 12MP, but they introduce a larger f/1.8 aperture, allowing more light to enter the phone's camera and illuminate its sensor. That spells sharper pics of moving subjects, as well as enhanced low-light performance. This translates pretty well when it comes to image quality, as both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus deliver excellent-looking pics, with tons of details, true-to-life colors, and not-too-shabby exposure. And what to say about low-light performance - it's (naturally) better than ever.
6. When it comes to photography, the iPhone 7 Plus is the more attractive offering
With its dual camera system that employs two 12MP sensors with different lenses, the plus-sized iPhone is finally well differentiated from its smaller-sized peer. One of the snappers is a regular one, whereas the other is a telephoto lens that allows for 2x lossless optical zoom. Generally speaking, what might be an otherwise bland scene can quickly become a lot more interesting as you tighten up on one particular area with the help of the 2x telephoto camera at the back of the iPhone 7 Plus. Additionally, users will be able to snap pictures with eye-catching bokeh effect, though this feature won't be available until iOS 10.1 hits the iPhone 7 Plus, which is quite unfortunate.
7. The iPhone 7 Plus still feels unnecessarily large
Although we should have probably become accustomed to the iPhone 7 Plus' size already, truth is we haven't. It still feels just as hard to use with one hand as the iPhone 6 Plus did in 2014, and the 6s Plus later in 2015.
8. The A10 Fusion chip really delivers
There's no second opinion - if you're looking for a chipset that would crunch everything you throw at it, you will hardly find a better offering than the A10 Fusion chipset. It's really packing some serious horsepower, easily coping with system-intensive tasks. However, our tests showed that the iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus are largely similar in terms of what they deliver performance-wise. Various benchmarks show performance improving in the 20 to 40 percent range over the iPhone 6s, and while we didn't measure a huge change in graphics performance, the trend is certainly upwards. It's also worth noting that the iPhone 7 Plus arrives with a whole lot of 3GB of RAM, which was definitely a surprsing update given that the 6s and 6s Plus introduced 2GB of RAM just last year.
9. Perfected metal unibody design
With the iPhone lineup most certainly up for a redesign next year, it won't be too far-fetched to say that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus' design have definitely perfected the design language that got introduced alongside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The jet black version, with its almost invisible antenna lines, is arguably the best-designed iPhone we've seen in a while. And now, we are ready for that long-anticipated redesign...
10. The 32GB of base storage feels like a revelation
Finally, after years of lamentations, Apple dropped the lowly 16GB storage option on the base iPhone model at long last, leaving the iPhone SE the only phone in Cupertino's portfolio that will continue to have that much storage. That's something we definitely love and applaud Apple for. The 128GB model will provide more than enough storage for even the largest data hoarders out there, while the top 256GB storage option will be an excellent choice for all those on the hunt for the highest-spec'd iPhone out there. As an added bonus, the highly-anticipated Jet Black color version of the phone will only be available in 128 or 256GB of storage.