The iPhone 6S has been my daily driver for the past few months, then a friend of mine who works for a telco company asked if I was interested in an iPhone 7. His wife was upgrading a new plan, unaware that the new contract came with a new phone. So he asked if I wanted it as they didn’t need it. He offered it to me at a mates rate so I couldn’t resist. As soon as a received the iPhone and set it up I began to pack away the 6S and got it ready to sell off. But I didn’t advertise my 6S for sale straight away. I though about maybe trialling the 7 and see if it was worth keeping over my 6S.
From the outside both phones looked the same, if they were both the same colour I would never be able to tell them apart from a distance.
If they were both the same colour I would never be able to tell from far away. The front had no difference but turning it over the differences are subtle, the iPhone 7 has a larger camera bump and the antenna bands are designed to give a cleaner look. Other than the removal of the headphone jack there are no other changes; both phones are exact copies.
After setting it up, the iPhone 7 felt marginally zippy; performance wise the 7 felt slightly faster thanks to the upgraded A10 Chip compared to the A9 chip in the 6S. I could tell the difference in performance especially using a resource heavy app like Facebook and 3D games. But using apps like Whatsapp and iMessage; apps that aren’t resource hungry made no difference. I couldn’t tell which phone was faster.
When the phone vibrated from a ring or an app notification, I could feel the difference of it’s upgraded Taptic Engine compared the first gen in the 6S. Every micro vibration felt tighter and accurate like the little vibration that occurred when you pull down the notification shade; giving the impression of a weighted object falling on your screen. Pressing the fake home button felt real because of the haptic feedback and clicking noise made by the speaker.
Using the iPhone as loudspeaker I was quite impressed with the sound it put out. Comparing it to the 6S it was significantly louder and had more depth. All due to its dual speaker set up; a speaker on the top earpiece and a speaker facing down next to the lightning port. With the iPhone 7 being IP67 certified water and dust resistant I was quite impressed that it was still able to produced great sound. Normally when a phone has some sort of water resistance their speakers are usually lacking.
Taking pictures with the iPhone 7 felt similar to the 6S the iPhone 7’s camera was quick to start-up and take a photo. The images were close to real life in colour and exposure. During the day the iPhone 7 handled dynamic range really well. At night the camera handled noise well and the images were pretty clear and still sharp. Putting the same images taken by both phones side by side. Both iPhones were almost identical with the with the iPhone 7 taking the lead ever so slightly with a sharper and brighter image. The video on the 7 had slightly better stabilisation and was slightly more saturated in colour. But the 6S handled changing exposure better and was more smoother, the iPhone 7 was choppy to change exposure as I moved from light to dark and vice versa.
After using the phone for a few days two things stood out and the more I used the phone the more it affected my initial impressions.
First is it’s home button, the iPhone home button is what makes the iPhone it’s the button you press to wake up the phone and to switch out of apps. Apple did a good job of being the first and placing the fingerprint sensor in the home button. It’s location adds convenience and you could wake and unlock the phone without picking it up from the table. The new home button is really a capacitive button but it feels like pressing a real button thanks to the Taptic Engine and the click noise that the speaker gives out when you press it. But this only works when you are holding the phone, if you press the button without picking the phone up you can’t feel the phone vibrate. I have accidentally started Siri so many times trying to press the home button because I have left my finger on the home button long enough for Siri to start. If you are wearing gloves or have dirty fingers the capacitive button may not be able to register your finger press.
Second is the missing headphone jack, Apple tried to remedy this by bundling in new lightning headphones and a 3.5mm headphone to lightning dongle. Without bluetooth headphones this setup doesn’t allow you to listen to music and charge the phone at the same time. At first I thought it would be OK and wouldn’t pose much of a problem as I would make sure the phone is charged overnight. But a few times I have forgotten to charge my phone overnight and I had to wait till my phone was charged before I could listen to my music or podcasts. Then there is the issue of connecting the iPhone to my work computer. As I sometimes use my phone to take pictures at work I have to connect it to my work computer to grab the images off. If I am listening to something I have to pause and wait till I finish transferring the images. Yes I do own a pair of Bluetooth headphones but those I keep at home and the cans I have at work I am not ready to let them go because they are still new and only when they break will I stop using them.
So should you upgrade to the iPhone 7. If you own an iPhone 6S or 6S+ and it is still in good condition then I would say no.
Instead wait till the iPhone 8. Because right now the subtle improvements of the iPhone 7 I feel are not worth the design trade offs that come with it removing the headphone jack and real home button. The iPhone 6S is still a very capable phone in 2017 and might carry over into 2018 and by then the iPhone 9 will be out. If you are on the iPhone 6, 6+ or earlier then I would upgrade to the 7 as the improvements are more significant. Or save some money and upgrade to the 6S as they have dropped in retail price.
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