Apple iPhone 7 Review

Call Quality

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. 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.

Speakerphone performance is also 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.

Battery Life



Apple's a bit of a magician when it comes to extracting some seriously impressive battery life out of a battery that, were we over in Android-land, would look positively miniscule.

The iPhone 7 lands with a 1,960 mAh battery, which is a little under 15 percent larger than the 1,715 mAh battery in the iPhone 6s. Apparently, dropping the headphone jack really does free up some space inside.

Between that larger battery and improvements to phone components, like the A10 Fusion chip's low-power cores, we'd definitely hope to see some real battery-life gains with the iPhone 7. However, our custom battery life test suggested the opposite.

Last year, the iPhone 6s managed to pull a little over eight hours of screen-on time while in constant operation. However, the iPhone 7's battery was depleted in 7 hours and 46 minutes – a respectable, though far from impressive result. Depending on how hard you push your phone, that may not be quite all-day endurance, although it's pretty much granted that with moderate usage, you won't have any trouble getting through a day, or a day and a half even.

UPDATE (Sep 28, 2016): Our original review text suggested an incorrect value for the iPhone 7's battery life test result. After further inspection and testing, we've adjusted the phone's battery life score to 7 hours 46 min. The review text now reflects this new result.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPhone 7 7h 46 min (Good)
Apple iPhone 6s 8h 15 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S7 6h 37 min (Average)
HTC 10 7h 10 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Apple iPhone 7 141
Apple iPhone 6s 150
Samsung Galaxy S7 88
HTC 10 100

Conclusion


Apple's honed its smartphone-making game to the point where it's easy to see the launch of a new year's model and quickly get cynical about how everything's just business as usual, or how the company's afraid to take big risks with its phones.


But with the iPhone 7, we see an Apple that's managing to turn that characterization on its head. The iPhone 7 isn't a big, big new step for Apple smartphones – and if you're happy with your iPhone 6s (or even iPhone 6), there's little in the way of must-have new features here twisting your arm to upgrade.

Instead, we see all these really focused improvements that on their own might not seem so hot, but add up to giving us an iPhone that's superior to its predecessors in nearly every way. From the screen, to the speakers, the camera, and even in terms of durability with its dust and water resistance, the iPhone 7 is the best iPhone of its size Apple's ever brought us.

Probably the easiest target to hang on the iPhone 7 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 larger battery outweigh the inconvenience of needing that adapter for older headphones? Or the need to buy all-new Lightning-equipped headphones?


Well, it will probably be some time before we see how users respond, especially as more and more Lightning-supporting headphones come to market, but that's not even the most important point here. What we have is evidence of an Apple that's not afraid to take risks, to keep pushing its users towards its vision of the perfect personal communication/entertainment/fitness – heck, just the perfect device for everything. And while nobody – not even Apple – is there quite yet, handsets like the iPhone 7 remind us that there's always room for smartphones to grow, to improve, and to expand our perceptions of what a phone can do for us.

Software version of the review unit: iOS 10.0 (14A346)



Pros

  • Beautiful design skilfully hides antenna lines
  • Bright, bold, colorful display
  • A10 Fusion delivers on performance
  • Stereo sound is a welcome addition
  • Lightning EarPods sound as good as ever
  • Fantastic showcase for iOS 10's new features
  • Camera with great low-light performance and OIS

Cons

  • Loyal headphone jack, you will be missed
  • Stereo sound balance needs EQ work
  • Lack of clicky home button will take (some) getting used to
  • Can't charge while using wired headphones
  • Jet black finish limited to more expensive storage options

PhoneArena Rating:

9.3

User Rating:

8.1
17 Reviews

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257 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: 3105; 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: 7368; 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: 997; 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: 3105; 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: 1205; 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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