Apple iPhone 7 Plus vs iPhone 7: is Apple's larger handset worth it?


In the not so distant past, Apple sweared by the small-phone mantra and it said that large phones were not 'common sense'.

When other experimented with gigantic screen sizes, and the non-explosive Galaxy Notes were proving popular with Android users, Apple still stood by its famous ‘Thumb’ ad. The ad claimed that your thumb goes only a certain distance, which was not larger than the 4” screen on the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s.

It was all 'common sense' right before... Apple did the complete opposite of what it preached a couple of years prior: it introduced two new and larger phones, a 4.7" and a 5.5" one.

These days, it is the 4" iPhone that feels against 'common sense'. It has its fans, but those are a very small percentage of the population. In fact, the 4.7" iPhone 7 now feels pretty close to what the right size for a modern smartphone is. However, there are still people wanting a bigger screen. For those users, there's the 5.5" iPhone 7 Plus, which, however, feels a bit on the bulky side – and there is no one device in-between the two.

That sure makes choice between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus hard. More so given that the larger iPhone has a few extra features including a brand new camera. We've been struggling with this choice in the past couple of months, and after living with both phones for a while, here are our guidelines to choosing the right iPhone for you.

Screen, size and comfort

iPhone 7 Plus size pros: faster to type on, better for media. Cons: heavy and uncomfortable if you carry it in your pocket


Some people have larger hands and some have smaller hands, and some people prefer larger displays over small displays.

What we’re trying to say with this truism is that if you prefer to use a smaller phone, the iPhone 7 Plus will be too big for you. However, even if you prefer larger phones, the 7 Plus might still be too big for you.

Many people have no big issue adjusting to a larger-sized phone, but keep in mind that the 7 Plus is still bigger than most other flagship 5.5” phones: it has huge bezels by modern standards, its non-curved back makes it less ergonomic than similar phones with a curved back, and while the phone is not too thick, with a case on top of it, it starts feeling like a tank.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Dimensions

5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches

150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.54 oz (157 g)

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches

138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm

Weight

4.87 oz (138 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page

You should also think about your lifestyle: if you walk a lot and are used to keeping your phone in your jeans' pockets rather than a jacket or a bag, the iPhone 7 Plus definitely adds one more pain. It's way too big and too heavy, and it just does not feel very comfortable to hold such a large phone in your pocket, while the smaller iPhone 7 is comfortable to carry and is pleasingly light-weight.

Of course, the larger screen brings a number of advantages: it's much faster to type on the larger display, you can use the 7 Plus in landscape mode and be more productive, and yes, if you have to edit spreadsheets on a phone, you'd prefer doing it on the 7 Plus.

There is one other feature on the 7 Plus that might make even those who swear by smaller phones consider the bigger iPhone this year:

The Telephoto lens

It's legit: portrait mode is awesome

For years, the iPhone has shipped with one main iSight camera: with its 28mm focal distance, it is considered a very universal shooter: it is not too wide to photograph people, yet it’s not too narrow so you can also capture good-looking landscapes.

For the first time this year, the 7 Plus adds a secondary rear cam: it calls it a Telephoto camera because of its longer, 56mm focal distance. This lens is not something that you can practically use in lower light, so it’s use is definitely more limited, but when the light conditions are right, it captures excellent images. The true imaging revolution that it brings, however, is realized fully when you use this lens with the new ‘Portrait’ camera mode. It blurs the background to make the object you photograph ‘pop’ by standing out against the pleasantly blurred background.

The effect is unlike anything you have seen on a phone so far, and it’s indeed something very similar to the bokeh effect you get on a DSLR. Apple calls this ‘Portrait’ mode because the algorithm detects faces and is able to very accurately define their borders to blur only the background behind them, but leave people in perfectly sharp focus. However, it’s more than that: it works with other objects that are a bit further than macro distance yet not too far away. We’ve been testing it for a couple of weeks now and find it to work great most of the time: it does great job capturing memorable pictures of your close ones, of your pets, of natural beauty like flowers, and it just excels at making the thing you take a picture of stand out and get noticed. It’s a profound change. A small thing to note is that portrait mode shots come in files that are nearly half the size of the regular iPhone pictures.

Is it as good as what you get on a dedicated camera, though? No. These days, you can get a $500 DSLR like the Nikon D3300 with an 18-55mm lens that delivers dynamic range, color rendition, low-light performance, and versatility - as well as support for powerful external flashes for night and indoor photography - that the iPhone simply cannot match. You can even go cheap and get an old DSLR that is still as good as the D3300 for $250, and you’d still get image quality far above anything the iPhone is capable of. Of course, it’s nowhere near as portable or always-there as the iPhone.

Back to the topic of discussion, though: Portrait mode with the new Telephoto lens combined are a serious enough reason to get the 7 Plus over the iPhone 7. However, as much as we like it, it does not change the fact that the 7 Plus will still feel uncomfortably big for some in the everyday grind. We ultimately could not make peace with the large size and went back to the 7, but miss Portrait mode a hell lot.



Battery life and charging times


The other big advantage of the iPhone 7 Plus is its bigger battery: 2,900 mAh vs 1,960 mAh on the smaller iPhone. Numbers don't tell the whole story, so here are some real life impressions: the 7 Plus will easily last you a full day of pretty much whatever you throw at it. If you don't spend your day shooting and streaming 4K video, though, it will likely last you a day and a half, and with moderate use you will be able to get two days off of it.

The iPhone 7 will have enough battery to last you a full day with heavier use and it may go to a day and a half, but it simply does not last as long as the 7 Plus.

With both phones, you will want to charge every night to be absolutely certain that you have enough juice for a full day the next day, though.

Neither of the two supports quick charging in any form, which is a shame. If you forget to charge your phone at night and need to recharge during the day, you should know that it takes a long 2 hours and 21 minutes to fully charge the iPhone 7 and it takes an unbearable 3 hours and 17 minutes to fully replenish the battery on the 7 Plus.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 9h 5 min (Excellent)
Apple iPhone 7 7h 46 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 197
Apple iPhone 7 141

Conclusion and the price to pay


All in all, there are three main reasons to get the 7 Plus over the 7: the larger screen and the excellent Telephoto camera with Portrait mode are the two bigger reasons, and the slightly better battery life is the lesser yet still important third reason. These three reasons come at a price: $120 over the price of the regular iPhone 7, which already isn't a cheap phone.

As much as the larger iPhone 7 Plus is more capable, though, it also is - quite literally - a heavy burden to carry. The phone is bigger than most other 5.5” phones, and heavier too.

If you really want a phone of reasonable size, chances are you won’t be happy with the big one. Yes, you won’t get a secondary camera, but you will get a device that is comfortable to carry around and use in the everyday grind. And you will save some cash along the way.

If you are considering the larger iPhone (meaning there's a chance you'll be able to live with its large dimensions): you should ask yourself if you tend to use the camera a lot, and if you regularly happen to photograph people with it. If the answer is yes, do yourself a favor and get the 7 Plus.

Related phones

iPhone 7 Plus
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 2900 mAh(21h 3G talk time)
iPhone 7
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 1960 mAh(14h 3G talk time)

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25 Comments

1. darkkjedii

Posts: 30900; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

The tele photo lens only works in bright light, and there are no actual phablet features on the Plus to differentiate it, other than its screen size, and landscape for the home screen. If the extra gig of ram, and the bigger battery are a must, then yes, but other than that, it's just a larger iphone 7. A little too one dimensional. I honestly regret buying it, and should've just gotten an S7 Edge after the recall, lost a little money when I finally made that switch. It's a very good device, but very boring once you've had it for awhile. Apple need to focus on a slew of phablet features to set it apart. Multi window, slide over, pic n pic, multi item clipboard, S-Pen like embedded stylus (iPen), and a few others would do the trick.

2. sgodsell

Posts: 7028; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

If you want to put it in terms of whether it's worth the price they are asking for the iPhone 7 plus, then I would have to say no. Now the iPhone 7 is ridiculous period, especially when you are getting the lowest resolution display on any flagship device. The price Apple is asking for with that device is just ridiculous, especially when you can get low end devices with higher resolutions at a fraction of the cost.

10. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

What makes you think that a higher resolution - which is barely visible - is a key factor in buying a phone? How about security or bands, support and reliability?

19. sgodsell

Posts: 7028; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The display is the most important aspect of any smartphone. It's the window into its world, it's also the area where you place the vast majority of your input. So yes it's very important. Not to mention other platforms use the displays for VR/AR. I see more and more VR/AR applications coming down the pipes all the time. So yes, that display is almost everything.

20. AlikMalix unregistered

If sharpness is important then you'd select an ips screen vs a pentile arranged pixels. Number for number pentile displays are very fuzzy compared to ips displays. So a lower resolution ips display on iPhone is just as sharp as higher resolution pentile display. This is why no one ever complains about iPhone resolution. If you disagree - you did not understand what I wrote - do some research!

21. darkkjedii

Posts: 30900; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I'm not sure why he responded to me about resolution, when I talked about features I felt are missing As usual didn't even bother responding to him.

22. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Well he did mention AR and VR where resolution does matter, but that's a very niche use for now. The other problem with iPhones is going to be apparent, after you use a Nougat device, is UI scaling. Reducing UI size on larger screen devices is amazing especially when using multiwindow.

23. AlikMalix unregistered

UI scaling, to me, seems like a lazy workaround to just making each app and UI to work specifically to the device you're using. This is very apparent with iOS apps on iPhone vs iPad. On android one size fits all approach is a solution to a problem iOS devices don't have.

26. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

No you're thinking of adaptive UI, not UI scaling. Adaptive UI responds to UI scaling. The one size fits all approach is lazy programming indeed but a lot of apps do the same thing on iOS. The high quality apps on both platforms use different layouts for different form factors. There are obviously more for iOS because of the developers on the platform and their tools available.

25. Leo_MC

Posts: 6935; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Remember Nokia Lumia 900 display? It way ahead of any Android device, yet people didn't cared enough about the device as a whole, which makes it clear that the display is just a (important) part of a device. Please, stop with the VR bulls**t; I don't care to do VR with my mobile phone while I'm in a conference, I cross the street, I run etc. And last: are you familiar with Samsung oled technology? You should read AlikMalix post and go from there, if you want to understand why both S7 2k and 7+ are just as sharp (hint: the number of subpixels).

8. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3094; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

I remember you posted a long time ago that you were invested in IOS ecosystem. Now that you're using an Android device have you missed anything? Or it didn't matter to you?

11. darkkjedii

Posts: 30900; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Who says I still don't have an iOS device? 128 gig iPad Air 2, that I love. It actually has some real multitasking features.

12. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

I did like the landscape mode on home screen..... and Samsung doesn't have that but I can do that with a launcher

16. darkkjedii

Posts: 30900; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

What I hate about it is, some apps don't work with it (like Facebook). Where as Facebook on my edge works in landscape.

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3094; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

720p is a no go in this time and age.

5. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

How is larger version worth it when the smaller one already deeply overpriced?

6. Bankz

Posts: 2514; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Honest question. Why are apples third party apps not really supporting landscape mode (tablet view) on the 7+? Its really very unlike apples 3rd party developers and if you do know of any 3rd party app, can you suggest on any ones you know of? (From the popular ones to less popular ones). Thanks in advance Honest question 2. Why does apple music app not support landscape view of any type? Anyway, back to topic, yes, side aside, the + version annihilates the regular iphones in almost every way, except size. Especially in battery capacity. The only thing I see here is that size alone might just be too much of an advantage for the regular iphone for some people imo.

7. phonehome

Posts: 812; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Getting a little off point here. I have a 6S. Would like to get a 7 Plus for the larger display, but do not like the new virtual home 'button'. It is fine for a MacBook, but not for iOS devices. Two particular issues is that I can't check the lock screen (mainly for the larger clock displayed compared to when unlocked) by using something non-capacitive including my fingernail. Also, Siri takes a tiny bit longer to launch (that in itself isn't a problem, but does show a downgrade when should be the opposite with upgraded hardware)...I am sadky surprised that that many haven't complained about the removal of the actual physical button. With that, won't expect Apple to reverse course (not that they usually do anyway). Just hope my 6S doesn't go the way of the dinosaur for the foreseeable future. Oh, and don't want to buy essentially another 6S (with the 'Plus') when I have one already.

9. jellmoo

Posts: 2541; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Super dumb question time (since I'm very much not a photography guy): Don't a bunch of other devices already do the "Portrait" thing? Like the One M8 or the Honor 8? Isn't it pretty much a feature of all of the dual camera setup devices?

13. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

I skipped all phones this year. See what next year brings. Starting to like the Pixel phones. So next year wait for next Note, iPhone, and Pixel 2 before making any purchase.

14. Bankz

Posts: 2514; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Next year, its definitely a Note 8, iphone 8, or a Pixel II for me. Its being a while since my nexus 5 purchase as nothing exciting has come out of the smartphone world for donkey years so, seeing as my phone is on its last legs, I'd just have to buy something out there. Wish the surface phone/dell stack type phone comes out soon. Tired of all these boring s**ts tbh

15. FlySheikh

Posts: 443; Member since: Oct 02, 2015

7+ if I end up getting an iOS device.

17. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

The fact that the non plus model has a horrible battery life being an expensive flagship makes it the worst choice for a phone that anyone can make.

18. Vagabondjonez

Posts: 156; Member since: Jan 21, 2016

Are we still even asking this question still three years into the same chassis and dimensions? The plus has always been a 1 up. This article is useless.

24. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

It as simple as this. For what Apple charges for either phone, it should be at least equal to the Galaxy S. Since its not, then neither are worth it, at Either size. Apple gimps the specs in the small one, to get people to buy the larger model. Both models should be the same specs where only size should be a difference and the larger model should have a couple extra capabilities or unique ones The S no matter the size matches in specs, for the 6 and 7 they had a curved and flat model with the curved having a few extra features. As I see some stated, Apple offers the lowest resolution on a phone that is their only mofel, so thus it's their flagship. The next model us gonna catch them up to the S, have everyone run out and buy it, after thT they will be completely out of udeas.

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