Exclusive: Apple iPhone 7 review – months before the official release
A little over a week ago, Apple officially announced a new addition to the iPhone family – iPhone SE. However, this isn’t their flagship model for this year and it looks like the California-based manufacturer is going to stick to their guns and unveil the iPhone 7 in the Fall of 2016. Despite the fact that there are a couple of months until its official release, rumors about the device have already started spreading through the web. We have only one thing to say on the matter – forget them! Enough unconfirmed information, leaks, and rumors because our team managed to get their hands on an engineering sample straight out of Apple’s warehouse. We’ve already finished testing the device and here’s our review.
How has Apple decided to answer its Android counterparts’ challenge? Will the new iPhone be able to overcome its competition – Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, HTC 10 and many other top-tier smartphones?
Design and construction
As a tradition, Apple remodels the design of the iPhone every two years and with 2016 comes yet another change to the appearance of the device. This time around, we’re looking at a more compact body which easily fits in the hand. You won’t have any trouble swiping through the whole range of the display and every pixel is reachable. Perhaps, Apple’s engineers could’ve made the bezels above and below the screen a bit thinner, but this isn’t a major issue since the device is very comfortable to use, due to its overall small dimensions.
Anyway, you may notice that the phone we’re holding in the photo below has a lot of various sized cracks and scratches on it. But don’t be alarmed! According to our source, Apple has intentionally scarred the device as a way to successfully deal with accidental drops. This way even if you get your iPhone damaged, no one will know.
Another new feature of the iPhone 7 is the re-appearance of the full-sized Mini-SIM card. After years of research, Apple concluded that it’s impossible to shrink the nano-SIM card any further and in order to keep things interesting and unique, they decided to just go back to the roots. Anyway, the SIM card slot is located at the top side, where you’ll also find the headphone jack. The size of the latter, however, is slightly bigger and it serves two purposes – as a conventional headphone jack and as a pen holder.
Furthermore, the new iPhone is a bit thicker than we expected, but we guess that shrinking the overall size of the device comes at a price. The phone, however, is 8 grams lighter than its predecessor.
iPhone 7 also introduces a new feature called fingerprints. This time around, you won’t leave your fingerprint only on the home button, but also on the whole surface of the screen. Sadly, this doesn’t serve any purpose other than a visual change.
The new iPhone features a 3.5-inch screen with 320 x 480 resolution. Even though some of you may think that the resolution is incredibly low, the pixel density is about 165 ppi. Moreover, the display can be considered “Retina” when viewed from distance equal or greater than half a meter. The manufacturer has also thought about users, whose arms aren’t that long and here’s their solution – just hold the phone with a selfie stick. Another thing that catches our eye are the dead pixels at the bottom of the screen. Since the iPhone 7 isn’t officially revealed yet, we can only guess what their purpose is. Our bet is on energy saving with some slight hesitation about a second display, similar to the one on V10.
Battery life, most likely, isn’t one of the phone’s strongest suits, but this issue can easily be fixed if you have a secondary battery with you, all the time. Another way to get pass this problem is to just be near a socket at all times. We performed our gaming and web browsing battery tests on the fully charged phone and you can see the results in the videos below.
New iPhone – new OS. iPhone 7 operates on iOS 10 which is still currently being developed so we can’t really review it completely. We can, however, show you what the stripped down version of the OS has to offer. The first thing we noticed was that there isn’t a drop-down menu available which makes using the device much easier. All of the options are located in the settings menu, which despite not being very flashy, contains everything you need. We also see that most of the icons have been remodeled.
We also tested the gaming capabilities of the new iPhone 7 with a couple of games. As it turns out the phone has a new feature which randomly stops the gameplay for a second or two allowing you to prepare for the upcoming challenge. Also, keep in mind that there’s no way to turn this feature off.
Temperatures and comfort
Since Samsung decided to implement a liquid cooling system in their new flagship smartphones, in order to keep their temperatures low, Apple have taken things a step further, by introducing a new air cooling system. As you can see from the photos below, there’s a special gap on the left side of the phone’s panel. It is large enough to improve the airflow and allow a cool airstream into the internals of the device, and yet small enough – not to mess with the overall appearance of the device. We decided to test out how it performs in real-life situations and after a lot of testing and researches we can conclude, that the colder the room you’re in is, the more effective the cooling system is.
The new iPhone 7 has a 2MP rear camera which may not seem like a lot, but precisely Apple is the company that has proven time after time that photo quality doesn’t depend only on the number of pixels. The Californian-based manufacturer has also put a lot of thought on how to prevent injuries while taking selfies and has come out with a great solution. The front-facing camera of the phone has been completely removed or in other words: no selfies – no problems.
Camera comparison with iPhone 6s
To adequately evaluate the quality of iPhone 7’s camera, we decided to take a couple of sample shots from the new flagship (on the left) and its predecessor iPhone 6s (on the right). Even though at first it may seem like last year’s model has an edge over the new one, if you take a closer look you’ll see some of the improvements. For example, observe the first photos from both devices. As you can see, the background objects on the image are way clearer in iPhone 7’s shot.
As any other smartphone, iPhone 7 has its pros and cons. We’re glad to see Apple going back at its roots as their new model’s construction is much more compact, but still keeps the premium build quality. The new iPhone also introduces a couple of new features, such as dead pixels at the bottom part of the screen, which greatly improve the battery life as you can see from our battery tests. The innovative cooling system allows a cool airstream right into the internals through a small gap in the chassis is also an eye-catcher. Anyway, Apple hasn’t forgotten about their gamer fans. With the new iPhone 7, the company introduced a unique feature which automatically pauses the game, thus giving the enough time to think about your next move. Battery life may be a deal-breaker for the more discerning of you, as the phone lasts 9 minutes while browsing the web. To be fair – 9 minutes are enough to browse more than a couple of websites.
- Compact design – easy to use with one hand
- Pre-scratched housing, acting as a shield against future scratches and cracks
- Pixel killing feature which perserves battery life – iDeadPixel
- Simplified and easy to use iOS 10
- Innovative cooling system – iCool
- Neat game-pausing feature – iLag
- Not the greatest battery life
- Happy April Fools’ Day!