Camera

Who needs dual cameras when you've got one main camera that performs this well?


Apple's built up a well-deserved reputation for producing smartphones with some of the best cameras around, and the iPhone 7 doesn't disappoint. Although this year it's overshadowed by the iPhone 7 Plus and its all-new dual-camera arrangement, the iPhone 7 still gets to enjoy its own smattering of camera hardware upgrades, bringing in more light, creating more light of its own, and capturing pics well-equipped for display on the phone's wide-color-gamut screen.

Last year Apple gave the iPhone's main camera a resolution bump, growing from 8MP to 12MP. With the iPhone 7, we don't see resolution change any – there's yet another 12MP sensor in play – but there are ample improvements all around.

One of the most important there is the move to 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. And all that light flows into the iPhone 7's camera with the help of an upgraded, more complex six-element lens system.


We also see optical image stabilization graduate from being a Plus-only feature with the iPhone 6s to one present on all sizes of iPhone 7. Combined with the faster shutter speeds that f/1.8 aperture affords, it's easier than ever to snap clean, sharp pics that are free of unwanted motion blur.

And if all the extra light the iPhone 7's camera is gathering doesn't prove enough, Apple's come through with a super-charged flash this year, moving from a two-element LED flash on the iPhone 6s to a quad-LED flash here. More than just give you more light when you need it, a flicker-detection system helps compensate for unfavorable lighting conditions, keeping your shots looking evenly lit.

Then there's the front-facer, and this time we actually do get a resolution bump, from 5MP to 7MP. There's the same wider color capture as on the rear camera and the higher-res sensor means that video capture now extends to 1080p.

Image quality

Stable, bright, and colorful is a trifecta of win for the iPhone 7's camera


All this sounds good, but how do the images actually look? Well, not bad at all. Comparing them with the iPhone 6s, you won't see a night-and-day difference, but the little improvements here and there add up. You'll end up deleting fewer blurry shots, see less noise in low-light pics, and enjoy richer saturation in your most colorful snaps. Front-facer upgrades aren't nearly as pronounced as those with the rear camera, and we would have appreciated even better light sensitivity, but they're still not bad.

It would have been easy for Apple to get so caught up in the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus that it overlooked the iPhone 7's own camera upgrades, but instead it really came through. They may not make for the flashiest feature set we've ever seen, but the enhancement's the phone's camera has received add up to a package that puts the iPhone 7 on our short list of best-performing smartphone cameras on the market.


Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPhone 7 1.13
1.49
No data
No data
Apple iPhone 6s 1.7
1.9
485
293
Samsung Galaxy S7 1.5
1.6
315
281
HTC 10 2.4
3.2
616
534


Video recording

4K plus optical stabilization makes for one heck of a combination

Improvements to video recording tend to exist as a subset of still-image upgrades, and that's very much the case with the iPhone 7. That means enjoying the benefits of that larger aperture and improved color gamut, just like on still pics.

But where iPhone 7 video recording really shines is with stability, and the ability to take advantage of optical stabilization just as readily in video as you can in still pics – all while working with Apple's software-stabilizing algorithms – has the effect of producing some impressively low-shake videos. You may not get Steadicam-like results with the iPhone 7, but minor jitters will no longer threaten to ruin an otherwise perfect shot.

High-res 4K recording looks as beautiful as ever, and even the lower-res recording modes end up generating some sharp-looking clips.


Multimedia

Speakers come through with a nice upgrade, but headphone support pays the ultimate price


Apple's taken some big steps with the iPhone 7's multimedia package, delivering long-requested features, but also stripping the phone of basic functionality we once took for granted. Does that add up to a win, or will controversy poison any potential improvements?

Let's start with the elephant in the room: the iPhone 7 no longer has an analog headphone jack. Instead, the phone now comes with a pair of Lightning-equipped EarPods.


Apple's not the first phone-maker to take this path, but its position in the market makes the decision to remove the iPhone's headphone jack one with the potential to have industry-shaking consequences.

As we'd only hope, the new Lightning EarPods sound great – though we'd be hard-pressed to call them a big leap forward over the older analog models.

If you do intend to hold on to your old analog headphones, Apple thankfully includes an adapter with the iPhone 7 that still allows them to be used with the Lightning port. The adapter works quite well, and our tests suggest it may even be superior to the iPhone 6's built-in headphone jack. Its one (and admittedly, quite big) problem is that it seems fantastically easy to misplace. Replacements are cheap enough, with Apple selling them for less than $10, but we'd still rather not have one more accessory to carry around and keep track of.

The other big audio news for the iPhone 7 is that the handset's finally picked up stereo speakers – albeit in a bit of an unusual arrangement. Instead of a pair of edge-mounted or pair of front-facing speakers, Apple's splitting the difference: the familiar bottom-edge speaker is joined by one in the phone's earpiece.

The earpiece speaker produces sound that's a lot less bass-heavy than the bottom speaker, but even with different response curves, the two add up to produce some nice audio that, what it lacks in balance, it makes up for with long-overdue stereo separation.

Beyond all that stereo goodness, the new speaker pair is seriously loud – significantly more so than the iPhone 6s. Our one complaint is that the iPhone 7 looks like it should be even louder; one of the two bottom-edge speaker grilles (the one on the left where the headphone jack used to be) now looks like there's another speaker hiding in there, but in reality, there's only a microphone.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 7 0.991
Apple iPhone 6s 0.986
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.704
HTC 10 0.95
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 7 78.1
Apple iPhone 6s 69.6
Samsung Galaxy S7 72.7
HTC 10 68


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253 Comments

1. schinnak

Posts: 116; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

"Beautiful design skilfully hides antenna lines" - wth did I just read??

12. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

These are the points given to the phone: Incredible battery life (BS because PA test has been rigged to iPhone ever since they changed the script) Beautiful design skilfully hides antenna lines (WTF?) Bright, bold, colorful display (Same as last year and far below industry standard) Stereo sound is a welcome addition (Even though it's unbalanced unlike competition) Lightning EarPods sound as good as ever (WHAT? They suck, universally agreed to by everyone and how is this better than last time?) Fantastic showcase for iOS 10's new features (What would that be? Widgets?) A10 Fusion delivers on performance (Yes) Camera with great low-light performance and OIS (The camera is the same as last year with overexposed night shots still not on par with a 6P even) Additionally: Same design as last year No headphone jack How this thing scored above an S7 is beyond me.

24. xdza1979

Posts: 296; Member since: Aug 08, 2015

"Instead of fancy curved screens or crazy resolution, Apple focuses on performance: brightness and color" It's amazing how +they change negative outdated specs into something positive and manage to label other creative far better specs as negatives and gimmicks...!

184. jphillips63

Posts: 253; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Those outdated hardware still blows all the so called breaking edge hardware out of the water in benchmark tests. So please go cry to your favorite supplier as to why can't they beat a phone with so called outdated specs.

209. iushnt

Posts: 3122; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

It's a fact that the real usage has already reached its threshold. Now Apple fans started caring about benchmarks?

225. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

jphillips63 did you read is reply? *A10 Fusion delivers on performance (Yes)* So he agreed and we all do thats the A10 fusion deliver performance wise. He was speaking about other points. So troll harder okay?

255. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

If the iPhone 7 is so crazy fast, then why is the iPhone 7 still using such a low resolution display? I can buy a $100 Android phone that has a full HD display. So what's Apples excuse? Is it so Apple can boast and brag about some crazy benchmarks with one of the lowest resolution displays in today's market. All while Apple can still charge their crazy overpriced rates for low end specs. Apple really has deep pockets and can make others lie for them.

45. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Spare time and head over to the first user review given. Seems iPhone 7 is the brightest phone ever!

226. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

yeah 630 vs 800+ other phone do brightest ever... Sure its will have amazing sun visibility but the numbers clearly show its in the top but not the most bright ever tested sorry.

53. NonFanBoy

Posts: 180; Member since: May 28, 2015

The iPhone 7's performance is insane, better than any other phone but falls short in every other department. But no device deserves a 9.3 for excelling in a single parameter.

78. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

I too can acknowledge that the iPhone 7 is excellent when it comes to raw power and responsive speed. But other than that, it's a meh and no where near deserve that score.

201. karan1402d

Posts: 89; Member since: May 28, 2015

Even the performance is good in all departments other CPU and Internal storage. The GPU in iPhone 7 is lackluster and is equal to one year old model iPhone 6s, anyway it will be thrashed by the Snapdragon 820. Seems Apple gave too much die space to CPU and cutting on the GPU which is a bad precedent. Camera is groundbreaking but similar what other flagships provide now. iPhone 7/7 Plus is dismal at best

227. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Agreed need to give apple what its due the soc they made is a monster as usual. its just sad everything else is not thats impressive. Its like having a 2000 hp engine in a Honda civic..

143. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Yeah the whole 'stereo' sound seems to be something many seem to be interested in...apparently? Yet how on so small devices, will it really make a difference? and wouldn't simply using headset be better?

145. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

"How this thing scored above an S7 is beyond me." We do know. It's iPhonearena. But nothign to question or debate. Someone posted last week I beleiev that they expected PA would give the iPhone 7 a 9.x rating and they would make sure it was above the S7/Note7. I knew he was right. Even though the iPhone has 1/2 the hardware prowness of the Galaxy S which is its direct rival, it is hard to judge battery life and here is why. Suppose we could swap the firmware on the phone. Now that the iPhone has a quad chip, how would it do running the S7's firmware and how would the Galaxy fair running iOS 10? I am not talking having the identical hardware featues. Just saying havign the iPhoen 7 run the S7's firmware with all its capabilities whether they work or not. On a 1900Mah battery, how long would an iPhone last. Since iOS is slimmer vs android, on a Galaxy S7, I would expect that the S7 would last nearly a week on a single charge based on its battery size. And since an iphone barely last an 8 hour work day, if it had the S7's firmware, it would probably last 1/2 that long. According to this guys video. He played a video at 720p which is the max allowed by the iPhone 7. The phone lasted only 4 hours https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbAposncKv8 At the end, his list shows the S7 Edge lasted 8 hours. I expected it to be double, because the battery is nearly double the size. Think I'm pretty burned out on PA's bias.

168. mrochester

Posts: 1021; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

But the iPhone has twice the S7's software prowess. It's not just all about hardware specs, it's the software too and the overall user experience. That's why the iPhone has consistently scored so highly.

210. iushnt

Posts: 3122; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Could you explain your first line "the iPhone has twice the S7's software prowess."? I guess people who like android is mainly due to the software that can do so much more than iOS.

229. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

mrochester iPhone software is a joke its super unstable and every update bring load of issue to be fixed and broken again with 20 others upgrade. Back before ios 7 ios was super stable but now its a mess i am sorry but its reality. Its becoming closer and closer to android ( and at some level android getting closer to ios too ) just those new way of using lockscreen is proof. Sorry but only valid reason iPhone scoore so highly is called bias nothing more. Still if tomorow they made an iPhone like the 7 with a 3000 mah or more battery and android i would buy it. like the design and its has a hell of a good soc.

228. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Yeah looped video is a great test. on my lg g5 i can do 5-6 hours looped 720p video. but on my older moto x play i could easily do 10 hours or more. when you look at the review is battery usage is mostly safari lol thats dont take as much battery as gaming or video ect.

44. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Well can you easily see the antenna lines on the black iPhone 7? No? Then they're well hidden. It's a simple enough concept to grasp but as usual just waffle anything anti-Apple for the green thumb brigade...

54. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

I dont know what is more mysterious and fascinating the fact its hidden or the fact its simply not there. One thing i dont get how can that be praised in any way beyond blue moon Beyong any rational comprehension and common sense. That ia simply fanatical.

59. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Oh I'm not arguing about the design, just that people seem to think the antenna bands aren't well hidden (at least on the black models). The design is old and stale, but then looking at all the other phones coming out it seems most are sadly.

79. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

My wonder is this: how can the "well-hidden" antenna lines be considered a "pro" in rating? Has antenna lines ever been considered a "con" when the iPhone 6 and 6s were reviewed? Was it unskillful? As it's apparently now a skillful design work on the iPhone 7!

97. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

No idea, I think the 6 rear was terrible and the 7 only better in the black versions, the camera bump is still hideous.

230. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

the new antenna line tend to accumulate grim and other crap and are hard to clean but otherwise its a nice improvement for the look of the phone.

150. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

No one is being anti-Apple. We want PA to grade the phone on s'**t that matters and has substance and not BS garbage that doesn't even matter. Here is why that antenna line BS is just that. First off, the phone comes in more colors than black. The lines aren't hidden on the other models, so the fact is it isn't hidden at all. There are 3 light color options vs 2 darker color options. So the lighter colors outweigh the 2 darker ones. So antenna lines have sunstance? Ok so tjhe fact several phones, not just the Galaxy have he smallest antenna lines in the industry, why didn't those phones get an extra point for it? In fact, when you look at any phone with smaller antenna lines, the lines weren't even mentioned in the review. What is suppose to matter is simple. PA should have a list that is consistent with ALL phones, and not be garded for things that are unique to one phone and not available on another. For example, I would not give the Note 7 any poinst becaus eit has an iris Scanner, because theer isn't a fair amount of devices on the market to make a reasonable and fair comparison. I wouldn't give the iPhoen points for Force Touch, because gain theer ian't a fair amoutn of phones on the market using the tech. It makes the gading unfair. The phoen should be reviews based on the most consistent options that are more synonymist with more phones. So CPU, GPU, RAM, Display, brightness, design and similar are things that are a least common denominator for all phones. When you put in in that perspective, the iPhone 7 is nearly 100% identical to the previous model. So how is it scoring so high, when other phones have been given lower score when they do the same thing and barely make any changes? No one dislike the iPhone. We did like the BS and lies being told and how the reviews show to much bias. They aren't giving the readers useful or even truthful information. We have seen PA outright cheat on camera tests. we have seen them outright cheat and lie on battery tests. The only way the iPhone for example, can beat a Galaxy S in a battery test is if Samsung didn't optimize the device with all its features. However with the exception of PA, the battery tests on an S have always been significantly better since the S5 above the iPhone. The only place where the testing has said otherwise is on PA. Example, the iPhone 6S Plus in PA's rundown test was 100% identical to the Note 5. Yet this was not the case on any other website. if you can't be fair, when why even waste time with a review? when cars are reviewed, advanced capabilities and features are mentioned, but they are never graded because it would be 100% unfair to compare and grade if the said feature is not an industry standard. Antenna lines are not industry standard. They only on phones made of metal. Seeing as the Galaxy lines take you facing the phone and looking at top or bottom, if this is to be graded then why wants it for them? BIAS!

57. xfire99

Posts: 1206; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

Hmm...wonder what those at top and bottom white lines that can clearly see on gold and pink models are?

84. androidwindows

Posts: 216; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

I'll just write my comment here...Nobody wants to comment on the poor camera performance????

94. tontolou

Posts: 16; Member since: Mar 29, 2014

and not mentioning antenna lines copied from meizu ? :p

112. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

LMAO I said 9.2...oh well only 0.1 off

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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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