Apple iPhone 7 event review: the courage to be the same

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

The Apple iPhone 7 event has come and gone and now that I've had time to take a walk and think about what happened (not to mention get a cup of coffee to wake myself up from the Sony event which felt like a weird ASMR video). The conclusion I came to was fairly simple: Apple announced what we expected them to and (almost) nothing else. Apple didn't surprise us and depending on your perspective, they might not have even excited you at all.

Now, to be fair, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus look like great devices, just like their predecessors. The new camera and processor should make noticeable differences, even if the camera and performance of previous iPhones were already top-tier offerings. The upgrades made to the Apple Watch look fine as well, though it was troubling that there was no mention of battery life at the event. There was nothing inherently bad about Apple's event today, but once you step back from the theater of it all, there wasn't much great about it either. The upgrades that we saw from Apple were the same iterative upgrades we've seen for the past two years, and they are the same iterative upgrades we've seen from just about every other smartphone maker on the planet.

The one true surprise of the day was kicking it off with Nintendo announcing a Mario game for the iPhone (although the wording made it clear that Mario Run would launch first on iOS, not exclusively on iOS). Of course, even that announcement was undermined a bit by the fact that we're not really getting a Mario game for mobile, just another endless runner branded with a recognizable character. 

After that, the announcements ranged from over-hyped to fully expected. Apple made some very smart moves, like: adding more special features to the iPhone Plus lineup in order to better justify the price bump; increasing the storage tiers across the board; upgrading the processor even on the Apple Watch Series 1; and bringing back Jony Ive to get people excited about things that weren't terribly exciting. 

I mean, think about this: just looking at the iPhone 7 next to the iPhone 6 or 6s, would you ever get remotely excited about the iPhone 7 if you never had Jony Ive describing in detail the great lengths Apple went to make a phone that looks basically the same as the one we've gotten for the past two years? I'm guessing not. I fully appreciate the time and care Apple puts into its design, but I also pay close attention to when Apple is trying a bit too hard to convince us that something is a big change. 

The courage to lock out your own devices


We all knew the headphone jack would be disappearing from the iPhone, and I have not been quiet about my thought that it would be a terrible design decision. Still, that alarm bell went off again around the time that Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller said, "The reason to move on: courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us," as justification for the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack from the new iPhones. That alarm bell went off big time, but not because of the claim that this move took "courage" by Apple, but in how Apple tried to soften the blow.

Schiller attempted to make this sound like less of a big deal by claiming that there are 900 million Lightning-enabled devices, because this statistic is absolutely meaningless. First of all, it's unclear what devices are being referred to here. Presumably, Apple has added up all of devices sold from when the Lightning port was first introduced in the iPhone 5, the 5th gen iPod Touch, the 7th gen iPod Nano, iPad 4, and the iPad Mini, then tossed in the few Lightning-enabled headsets already in the world and came up with a huge number. 

But, there are two major issues with that number. First, having an old Lightning-enabled iPhone doesn't mean that you have or want Lightning headphones or wireless headphones either. Wireless headphones are just one more thing you need to charge, and aren't necessarily as reliable as wired headphones. And, no one wants to live in dongle-hell to get old accessories to work with new hardware. 


Second, Apple's "courageous" move to move to Lightning has two major consequences that Apple never mentioned, because they both involve that dongle-hell. If you want to listen to music and charge your phone at the same time, you're going to need a dongle. Also, Apple has effectively locked out its own MacBook unless users want another dongle. Because, while Apple may have had the courage to drop the headphone jack from its new iPhones, there are only two jacks on its newest MacBooks: a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB type-C port. No Lightning there and Apple didn't mention a Lightning to USB type-C dongle (though that is undoubtedly coming.)

Apple can push proprietary tech all it wants. It has in the past and will continue to in the future, but Apple's whole design philosophy is to have an integrated experience from top to bottom. Having an iPhone ship with headphones that can't be used on the MacBook doesn't sound terribly integrated to me. 

Related phones

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)
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)

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74 Comments

1. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Pretty good keynote...missed it but did expect 80% of what was to see. Somewhat salty no new MacBook Pros announced...let the salt begin.

4. Nopers unregistered

That's actually a good thing. Rather than cram all of this in to one event which with MacBooks and macs would have probably been 4-5 hours they will have their own event in late September.

53. yann

Posts: 612; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

I want to shake the hand of Michael H. Vey good article. Right to the point - new Apple gadgets are very good, but... the same. And just to add few things: in the beginning Tim Cook take his time to explain 106% growth YoY app store downloads and 2x the revenue from nearest competitor. Those two facts, pointed by Tim Cook are mentioned to hide the reality - there is no real growth in users. And i do not want to offend anyone. Not Apple hater or Android fan etc. Once again thanks to Michael H. for the real journalism. Keep going bro.

12. Unordinary unregistered

Funny how the author is talking about a USBC and headphone jack in the MacBooks, yet new ones have yet to come, going against what he's actually talking about. These authors need to go to school, or back.

14. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

#Savage! PA has to do those article where they explain certain things again...I loved those

17. rick_mobile

Posts: 358; Member since: Dec 13, 2010

You keep trying to defend apples stupid moves on every post. You're starting to look desperate loo.

37. sgodsell

Posts: 7164; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Both zeeBomb and Unordinary would defend and praise Apple if they sold a shellac dog poop mounted on a plaque. They would be the first in line throwing their money at Apple. Apple went with USB-C on their latest macbooks. So the only reason to keep a proprietary lightning port is to keep their herd locked into Apple. If Apple removes the USB-C port from their new MacBooks, then that will confirm the locked into Apple part.

50. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

LMAO I'm just going to take this as sarcasm... Man PA comment section became pure cancerous

41. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 966; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

There's not much to defend, seeing as the device stands on its own with features and enhancements that make it a great device. It has a better camera system and speakers than my S7 Edge and will also have far better battery life. Hate on it all you want, defend it all you want, care less all you want. Sales numbers will do all of the relevant talking. How many Note 7s were sold in the first few days of its launch? Thank you.

51. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Even if Apple funded ISIS he will still support them.

56. ccharisis

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

For some reason everyone else will follow "Apple's stupid moves" in the future.. LoL

66. guests

Posts: 196; Member since: Jun 19, 2016

Not every single thing apple does will be followed by other OEM. lol

67. guests

Posts: 196; Member since: Jun 19, 2016

To see your cries & butthurt is funnier.

18. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

Typical political correctness When Android phone release same design, PA headlines say Android start to be lack of innovation When Apple release same design, PA headlines praise Apple is courage to make same and we should support Apple no matter how you twist the fact, same design means same junks in the end truth, fact, reality

25. chebner

Posts: 249; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Umm... Perhaps you should read the article. In this article the author is actually calling out Apple's bullsh!t when they call themselves courageous.

43. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

That's probably true. But consider this. People read and people come away with a difference of opinion on what they read. You read it one way, he read it another. I tenting of writers aren't always clear. Many are sarcastic and will say what would make the fans tick. Even though you are likely right and your take on the article, I'm going with Hugo. The writer is actually making you both right. Sure they are calling them out, but it is owner near being close to how they do Samsung especially. Example, the S6 Edge and a Note 7 are a lot alike. But it still doesn't make them the same phone. Yet PA wastes no time trying g to argue how no one with an S7 edge should upgrade to a note 7. The note 7 is a huge upgrade depending on what you want, or what you may choose to see or not see.

65. lyndon420

Posts: 6711; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

I have yet to witness an article where Android was accused of becoming less innovative... although I have seen apple thrown into that light in numerous articles.

2. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

When Tim said " brand new design" about i7 i felt of my chair. Theather at its best.

5. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

like you've never seen before.... /s

45. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Bending time and space.

6. guests

Posts: 196; Member since: Jun 19, 2016

I felt for the second time when PA said ip7 has gorgeous new design, then went on to suggest the ip7 would've been better with new design. SMH

13. Unordinary unregistered

Please for your sake, never buy a Porsche

16. fyah_king unregistered

You are comparing a phone to a Porsche? A phone is not supposed to look the same every year, but a car can. The damn iPhone looks the same for the last 3 years along with huge bezels.

55. Leo_MC

Posts: 7155; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Every damn smartphone looks the same, since the first iPhone: a display with some plastic/metal, with a few exceptions (BB slider, S flip and edges); that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

29. SR-72

Posts: 183; Member since: Sep 01, 2016

Porsche a ugly nasty looking pos old car. That charges you and rips people offfff.

34. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

same old design with round retarted looking lamp, lol.. (but its performance is great, and enjoyable to ride)

36. SR-72

Posts: 183; Member since: Sep 01, 2016

Any 4WD is enjoyable. Audi RS4 Quattro Subaru 4WD Toyota Celica GT4

46. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Skoda Yeti...

52. Podrick

Posts: 1284; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Did Porsche also called old design as brand new?

15. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

"BRAND NEW DESIGN" "BEST IPHONE WE MADE" "FASTEST IPHONE EVER CREATED" The list can go on

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