The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus hide the best upgrades inside with a phone that can survive a drop into water, deliver longer battery life and perform magic with the camera.
Buyers who are looking for a new phone need to consider the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, both of which offer key upgrades over the iPhone 6s even if you can’t see them all. Apple packs in several important differentiating features that make comparing the iPhone 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus more important than before.
Our iPhone 7 review will help you decide if this is the phone for you, if it is worth the upgrade and if you should consider the cheaper iPhone 6s.
Apple removes the headphone jack and the physical home button, pushing users to wireless options and to a new solid home button that vibrates the bottom of the phone when you push it.
There are some missing features as you compare to the competition, but for many users the iPhone 7 is still the best smartphone.
What We Like: Better front and rear cameras, now water resistant, double the base storage, fast processor, small battery life improvements, better speakers.
What We Don’t: New home button takes time to adjust to, no headphone jack will frustrate some users, best camera only on the iPhone 7 Plus.
Bottom Line: Ultimately the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are great phones and worth the upgrade if you are coming from an iPhone 5s or older and want the bigger screen, but if you already own the iPhone 6s you’ll need to think harder.
The iPhone 7 is $649 off contract and the iPhone 7 Plus is $749 off contract. You can buy the iPhone 7 direct from Apple or from carriers like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. On a monthly payment plan expect to pay about $27 a month for the iPhone 7 and about $32 for the iPhone 7 Plus. There are iPhone 7 deals that can help bring the price down.
iPhone 7 Design is Familiar, And That’s Fine
If you want a new iPhone that looks dramatically different, you can choose the Jet Black iPhone 7 or you can wait for the iPhone 8. This is a small visual upgrade, but it is much more than an S upgrade to the iPhone.
Once you put the iPhone 7 in a case, it looks just like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. Apple hides the antenna lines better, however, and there are two new color options, a slightly new look to the camera on the iPhone 7 and a dual camera on the iPhone 7 Plus.
On the upside the new iPhone 7 is water-resistant. It will survive 30 minutes in 3.3 feet of water. It’s not waterproof, so don’t use it to take photos underwater — but it will survive accidental exposure to water. Water damage is not covered under the traditional warranty.
If you are brave enough to use the Jet Black iPhone 7 without a case you experience the direction Apple is going with iPhone design. This is a phone with more grip and shine than the iPhone 6s. Unfortunately it scratches easily, so most users will still want to put this in a case.
The only real complaint we have with the similar design is that competitors are putting larger screens in smaller phones. This is especially true for the iPhone 7 Plus, which has a 5.5-inch display while the LG V20 delivers a 5.7-inch display and a headphone jack in the same physical size.
Exciting iPhone 7 Camera Upgrades
The iPhone 7 camera is better in low light and the iPhone 7 Plus includes a dual camera system that adds optical zoom and soon a portrait mode that blurs the background for stunning photos.
Apple also delivers a long-needed upgrade to the front facing camera bumping it to 7MP camera that delivers sharper selfies and makes FaceTime video calls look incredibly better than on the iPhone 6s.
If you want the best iPhone 7 camera experience you need to upgrade to the iPhone 7 Plus that includes two cameras on the back. This allows you to take a picture with optical zoom for the first time on an iPhone.
The iPhone 7 and most smartphones only use a digital zoom, which basically crops the picture and leaves you with an image that often looks like you blew the image up.
The dual camera system on the iPhone 7 Plus also allows you to blur the background of an image to create spectacular results. This is coming to the iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 10.1 soon.
Can You Live Without the iPhone 7 Headphone Jack?
The iPhone 7 has no headphone jack. None. You can stream music to wireless headphones and earbuds using Bluetooth, plug-in Lightning headphones or use the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter to connect a regular pair of headphones to your new iPhone.
After using the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for weeks, this is an easy adjustment to make if you invest in a decent pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Wired headphones still work, but after less than a month the Lightning headphones bundled with my iPhone are already cutting out. This is likely due to the larger connection that is under more pressure while in my pocket.
It’s easy to adjust, but you will definitely want to spend money on wireless headphones or wireless earbuds soon after you upgrade.
The New Home Button
Apple replaces the physical home button that you push with a new solid home button that vibrates to simulate the feel of an actual click. This takes some getting used to, but after a week it’s something we adapted to.
This new iPhone 7 home button only works with skin contact. You can no longer press the iPhone 7 home button with gloves on, unless they are special touch-screen friendly buttons. Apple builds in Raise to Wake on iOS 10 so that you can still pick the phone up and see what is on the screen without pushing a home button to wake the device.
You can control how forceful the iPhone 7 home button responds to your click in the settings. Ultimately the home button click feels a little like the bottom edge of the phone is vibrating.
The same Taptic feedback engine that powers this vibration also adds similar feedback to scrolling through dates on the calendar and vibrates the phone slightly when the edge of the Notification Center touches the bottom edge of the screen.
iPhone 7 Speaker Upgrade You’ll Appreciate
The iPhone 7 speakers are much better on both new iPhones. Apple manages to put stereo speakers on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. This means the sound is louder than the iPhone 6s and sounds better as well. You’ll still need a good Bluetooth speaker to fill a backyard, but it’s loud enough for a small office or for in the shower while getting ready in the morning.
iPhone 7 Performance
At the heart of the new iPhone 7 is an A10 Fusion chip that powers the features you will know and love.
Apple focuses on performance and efficiency, building a processor that comes with two high performance cores and two low-power cores. This allows the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to handle high intensity tasks and provide snappy access to your apps, but also to deliver better battery life when you don’t need a lot of power.
While using regular everyday apps to complete tasks and share on Facebook and Twitter I likely never tapped into this new power. Overall the performance is similar to the iPhone 6s.
The A10 chip did make the photo editing process and video editing process on my iPhone 7 Plus feel faster than on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus I previously used.
iPhone 7 Screen
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus screens are still the same sizes and resolutions as on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
You can choose a 4.7-inch or a 5.5-inch display and, if you opt for the bigger display, you get the camera upgrades on the iPhone 7 Plus.
The biggest change this year is a wider color gamut. This basically means that the photos you take and view look better than on the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus display. You may also notice this in some other apps, with Instagram promising support soon.
Apple also delivers a screen that is 25% brighter than the iPhone 6s, which helps with viewing in bright sunlight.
The biggest frustration with the iPhone 7 Plus display isn’t the resolution or the brightness, it’s that the competition is able to pack larger displays into this same size or make smaller phones with larger screens.
iPhone 7 Battery Life
The iPhone 7 battery life is good, but you may still need to charge up mid-day or invest in a battery case if you make a lot of phone calls. When I don’t make calls and can avoid spending a lot of time browsing Reddit the iPhone 7 battery life lasts a full day by itself, but more and more it’s tougher for me to avoid calls throughout my day.
That’s another reason I chose the iPhone 7 Plus as my main device for this year: the larger phone includes a larger battery that is rated for 7 more hours of talk on 3G and an hour of additional Internet use than the iPhone 7.
This isn’t the iPhone that lasts all day for power users, but for many average users it will come close. We’re left looking for fast charging on the iPhone 8 to solve this issue.
iPhone 7 Call Quality & Reception
The iPhone 7 is still a phone, and some people still make calls. While using the iPhone 7 throughout small cities, large cities, in the country and downtown in Ohio the phone held a signal well and call quality ranged from OK to Great on Verizon.
When calling other Verizon users the calls sounded great in almost any setting, but when talking to people on other networks or without Advanced Calling the quality dropped.
We prefer to use FaceTime Audio to make voice calls to other iPhone users as it delivers the best quality overall and works over WiFi even when you have little to no cell phone signal.
All of this depends on the signal strength and will vary by location, but the iPhone 7 is still a great phone for making calls on.
Speck Presido iPhone 7 Cases
Speck chose to deliver a new line of iPhone 7 cases that look and feel amazing. The new Presidio iPhone 7 cases use upgraded material to deliver better shock protection while arriving in a thinner design.
The Presidio Grip, Inked and Wallet can protect your iPhone 7 from a 10 foot drop while the Presidio Clear, Clear + Glitter and Clear + Print are tested for an 8 foot drop.
We already have these iPhone 7 cases on our iPhone and love the look and feel that they offer.
$39.95 to $44.95 at Speck