Apple iPhone 7 Review

Apple iPhone 7

Posted: , posted by Stephen S.



Interface and Functionality

With evolving 3D Touch support, some attractively redone apps, and an improved lockscreen experience, iOS 10 delivers

Apple iPhone 7 Review

The new iOS 10 landed for existing Apple devices ahead of the iPhone 7's release, giving us a head start at checking out all the new functionality bundled with the company's latest operating system refresh.

As expected, it's utterly feature-packed, and we've already spent some time outlining all the improved ways to interact with your phone that await users within. Upgrades include a drastically overhauled Messages, adding stickers, new text effects, emoji galore, and even a handwriting mode. Some purists will complain that Apple's over-complicating what should be simple text-based communication, but in a world where messaging apps loaded with special effects and gimmicks dominate app charts, Apple appears to find itself forced to evolve to stay relevant.

Other changes include expanded 3D Touch controls, powerful new lockscreen widgets, Siri connectivity for third-party apps, and new versions of familiar apps like Maps, Music, Photos, and News. Apple's not shy about bringing its new iOS features to existing hardware, either, and even new functionality like raise-to-wake is supported on last year's phones. And building off the eyestrain-reducing Night Shift of iOS 9.3, Apple implements a new Bedtime mode in the system clock that keeps trying to gently nudge us towards healthier sleep patterns.

Apple iPhone 7 Review

There's not one stand-out feature or new app that really defines iOS 10 – though for a certain Snapchat-loving cadre of users, the tricked-out Messages is probably the coolest thing Apple's ever done – but these smaller enhancements are so numerous, varied, and consistently well executed that it's hard not to love what Apple's come up with.

Processor and Memory

Fast as all get-out, and with storage to spare

Fans might love Apple smartphones for their design, easy-to-use interface, or rich ecosystem of software and media, but some blistering performance doesn't hurt matters any. With the iPhone 7, Apple's introducing its latest processor, the quad-core 64-bit A10. Well, not just the A10, either – Apple's giving its new chip a nickname, as we meet the A10 Fusion.

Apple iPhone 7 Review

That naming change should hint that we're dealing with something special, and our testing generally seems to support that idea. 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.

More than just powering the speediest iPhone to date, the A10 pairs high-performance cores with high-efficiency cores, helping the iPhone 7 to squeeze all it can out of the handset's battery. We're going to circle back around to battery life a bit later in this review, but spoiler alert: it's great. And while a higher-capacity battery has something to do with that, the new A10 clearly plays a role, too.

Apple once again gives its smaller iPhone 2GB of RAM (there is an upgrade to 3GB this year, but only for the iPhone 7 Plus), and instead we see the move to higher capacity play out with the handset's flash storage.

The big news here is that 16GB is officially dead, and the starting storage capacity for the iPhone 7 is a healthy 32GB. Even sales of the 6s and 6s Plus are losing their 16GB option, and only the iPhone SE will continue to offer such meager storage.

More than that, though, maximum storage reaches new heights with the introduction of a lofty 256GB option, for $100 more than 128GB (which itself comes in $100 more than the base 32GB level).

This is also the first time we're seeing Apple tie storage choices to another phone hardware option: in this case, color. The shiny new jet black finish isn't just the hardest-to-come-by iPhone 7 color, it's also restricted to models with 128GB or 256GB storage.

That's especially interesting, as it suggests Apple may be using the big markup it charges on flash storage to offset any added expense implementing the snazzy jet black color requires. Right now that's relatively unobjectionable, but will we see future iPhones where new hardware features or actual phone functionality is tied to certain storage tiers?

Apple iPhone 7 Review


Apple future-proofs the iPhone 7 with support for next-gen LTE speeds

We're at a point now with cellular technologies where it's easy to take a lot for granted. Band support's been getting so good, and LTE data so fast, that we just assume that the latest handsets are going to milk the wireless spectrum for all it's worth.

The iPhone 7 doesn't let us down there, and this year Apple even manages to deliver (what has the potential to be) a respectable upgrade, increasing the phone's theoretical maximum LTE Advanced bandwidth from 300 to 450 megabits per second.

Will you actually see those kinds of speeds? Well, between the need for carriers to build out their networks to support such throughput, to say nothing of the myriad other users all fighting with you for access to that bandwidth, we wouldn't suggest holding your breath. Ultimately, though, it really matters little: the iPhone 7 pulls down some nice, fast data, and the capacity for it to do so even faster is just the icing on the cake.


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PhoneArena rating:
Display4.7 inches, 750 x 1334 pixels (326 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera12 megapixels
Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
2 GB
Size5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
(138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm)
4.87 oz  (138 g)

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