Apple iPhone 7 Plus Review
Even with all these other big upgrades, calls sound as clean as ever
With all the high-end hardware and advanced functionality Apple's throwing at us, we'd hate to be let down by less-than-stellar call quality with the iPhone 7 Plus. And for the most part, we weren't.
Generally speaking, calls sounded clean and loud, leaving us with little trouble hearing the party on the other end. Once in a while, a bad connection seemed to sneak through, but as is so often the case, we're inclined to chalk that up to issues with carrier networks rather than a flaw in the phone itself.
As a larger handset, it's a bit less comfortable for voice calls than its smaller sibling, but a lot of personal preference (to say nothing of hand size) is going to influence how significant an issue that ultimately is. And even if the Plus isn't super-comfortable to use as a hold-to-head voice handset, speakerphone performance is quite satisfying, as we'd only expect after our experience with multimedia testing.
Of course, great-sounding calls aren't much use when you don't want to be getting those calls in the first place, but new iOS 10 call-blocking features allows apps to empower you to control just who's able to reach your phone.
The iPhone 7 Plus has no shortage of battery capacity, and its 2,900mAh battery is a modest upgrade over the 2,750mAh component in last year's iPhone 6s Plus.
However, the bigger battery doesn't necessarily translate into longer operational life, as our impressions from the iPhone 7 Plus battery life point to longevity somewhere near the 6s Plus ballpark. These observations are confirmed by our custom battery test, in which the iPhone 7 Plus scored almost identically to the 6s Plus, as you can see in the following chart.
On one hand, that's fine: Apple gave the iPhone 7 Plus an upgraded, faster processor, and if we can get those speed gains without paying for it with drastically shorter battery life, that should be a win, right? It's just that we'd love to see a higher-capacity battery actually translate into longer battery life for once, rather than have its extra juice instantly consumed by other phone upgrades.
With the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple's made the question of “which iPhone do I get?” more complicated than ever before.
If you have strong feelings for big phones versus little phones, you're mind's probably already made up, but users on the fence are faced with far more considerations with this generation of iPhones than any since the Plus variant was introduced.
Is that dual-camera system worth upgrading to the iPhone 7 Plus on its own? For now, maybe not, but upcoming features like its blurred-background bokeh mode may change that quite quickly. Other Plus-model upgrades, like the extra gigabyte of RAM, are much more difficult to appreciate, and we can't imagine seeing that factor too heavily into purchasing decisions.
It's also important to discuss what Apple's doing here that users might actively dislike. Probably the easiest target to hang on the iPhone 7 Plus is the phone's missing headphone jack, but even that's not the disaster it could be. While we don't quite agree with the way Apple's framing itself as courageous for dropping the port, it's still a big move that – as we mentioned – is going to have far-reaching consequences. Do benefits like the phone's waterproofing and its larger battery outweigh the inconvenience of needing that adapter for older headphones? Or the need to buy all-new Lightning-equipped headphones? None of those answers are immediately obvious, and it may be some time before we can say how wise a decision killing the headphone jack really was.
Ultimately, though, the iPhone 7 Plus is evidence of an Apple that's not afraid to take risks, to change things up in the goal of further perfecting its best-equipped smartphone option. And while some of those changes are touched by controversy, and others feel like they haven't quite realized their full potential, the iPhone 7 Plus dares to take Apple's smartphones to a fascinating new place – and we can't wait to see where this drive to innovate brings the company next.
Software version of the review unit: iOS 10.0.2 (14A456)