Today, Apple announced their latest iteration of the iPhone at their ‘See you on the 7th’ event in San Francisco, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. We were taken over a ten-point list of changes and improvements over the 6S and 6S Plus, starting with design. The new iPhone will come in 5 colours, the familiar Gold, Silver and Rose Gold, as well as the new Black and Jet Black colours. We were treated a video describing the work and effort spent in designing the new look iPhone and how the new colouration was applied, suffice to say the Jet Black looks utterly stunning and is clearly being marketed as the premium model based on its storage options.
Up next was the home button, this has been redesigned and is now flush, featuring Apple’s Taptic Engine for haptic feedback, it was also suggested that the internals have been amended, doing away with the old push button mechanism and moving closer to something like the force touch trackpads seen on Apple’s MacBook Pro range of portables. The new Phone has also been confirmed as being both dust and waterproof, meeting an IP67 rating, which makes its water resistance similar to that of the original Apple Watch, what this means is that while the device will be splash proof, it is not yet truly waterproof, so no dunking it in glasses of water or taking it swimming yet.
Next up is a confirmation of the much rumoured double camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will both feature a new Optical Image Stabiliser, a wider aperture lens, clocking in at f1.8, which features 6 elements. The image sensor is also significantly improved, being 60% faster and 39% more efficient than the sensor used in the 6S and 6S Plus. The Flash has seen an overhaul too, featuring 4 LEDs, producing 50% more light and approximately 50% more distance, it also now factors in light flicker, meaning better images when taking pictures in artificial light. Finally there is also a new Image Signal Processor, which features 2 times the throughput of the previous ISP seen in the last gen iPhone. Both phones will also feature an improved 7 MegaPixel sensor for the front facing camera.
The 7Plus sees an additional lens being added, which is confirmed as being a 56mm telephoto lens, this will work in conjunction to the wide angle lens which both phones will feature. What this means is that image zoom will be augmented by the second camera, allowing for 2 X zoom with no need to use software. From 2 x through 10 x zoom, software will kick in as it has done previously.
Another feature of this second lens, which will be coming as a free update in the future is the ability to create live shallow depth of field images. Essentially the ISP in the iPhone will create a depth map of the image allowing the phone to use both lenses in conjunction to create ‘bokeh’ effects on the background of images in live preview mode.
Of course, in order to see your pictures in their full glory you will need a screen that is up to snuff, this was also announced as the 5th improvement on the new devices. This new display is 25% brighter than the on the 6S and 6S Plus, as well as featuring a wider colour gamut – mentioned as being cinema standard, while the exact detail wasn’t confirmed we suspect this means it will confirm with DCI-P3, which is commonly used in Digital Cinema Projectors. Apple also touted improved colour management and 3D Touch.
The loss of an old component
The new iPhone will now also feature something that has long been requested by users, a second speaker, allowing for stereo audio from the device itself. These speakers are located at the top and bottom of the device and should provide an improved listening experience when the phone is in both portrait and landscape orientations. The dynamic range has been improved as has the overall volume, with a 25% increase over previous models. Further changes to audio include the dropping of the venerable mini jack port, something which looking at reactions to rumours will likely anger many. Headphones will now need to connect either via Bluetooth or via the Lightning port on the bottom of the device. Fortunately, Apple do seem to be aware that people have invested heavily in good headphones so will be including a Lightning to micro jack adaptor with all iPhones shipped. While this move will cause problems for some, Apple have done this with good reason, since according to them the micro jack was costing them room for other internal components, so switching to the lightning port, which already has support for digital audio seems to almost be a no brainer on their part.
The removal of the jack would be a pertinent time for Apple to mention another new product, the Apple Airbuds are their new wireless headphones, externally they look much like their current default earbuds, however internally they have crammed a lot of tech into a tiny amount of space to hopefully make them something special. The Airpods will have a 5 hour battery life with a charging and docking station that also features its own internal battery allowing for a further 24 hours of charge, meaning that you could easily use the devices for a full day with only occasional stops to charge the Airbuds from the carry case, without the need to hook anything to a USB port or to the mains.
The AirPods feature a new seamless and automatic connection system, courtesy of iCloud meaning you simply pair them to a single device by placing them nearby and that pairing will be passed to all of your iCloud-connected devices. They feature a new W1 chip, allowing for dual-optical sensor detection so they won’t play music until they are in your ears, motion sensors to track touch based control interfaces, such as double tapping to call up Siri and more. Beats headphones will also feature the W1 and associated features in their new wireless range of headphones too.
Of course all of the above improvements wouldn’t be possible without significant internal upgrades and it seems that the 7 series of iPhones have them in spades. Apple have included an new A10 Fusion processor, a 64 bit SoC featuring 4 CPU cores, 3.3 billion transistors and a 6 core GPU, which should be 50% faster than the A9 GPU while required 2/3rds of the A9 GPU’s power. What is interesting about the 4 CPU cores is that two of them are pegged as being ‘high performance’ cores which should run 40% faster than the A9, and the other two being ‘high efficiency’ which consume 1/5 the power of the higher end cores. There is also a new performance controller, which all working correctly should match an app’s needs to the right cores, meaning higher demand tasks such as gaming will flip to the performance cores, while lower demand tasks like email will sit on the high efficiency cores. Hopefully this should go some ways to providing much improved battery life and if Apple’s numbers are to be believed it certainly looks like it’s helping. Apple said that the battery should last two hours longer than the iPhone 6S and has quoted 40 hours of wireless audio playback and 13 hours of wireless audio as being two of the headline figures.
Apple Pay is also rolling out to Japan, as well as other countries in the fall. Japan got special mention due to the need to include support for their Felica payment system. Transit has also been touted as rolling out around the same time in Japan too.
Finally, all phones will be seeing a storage bump, to double what has been previously available. All iPhone 7 models will ship with either 32Gb, 128Gb or 265Gb except for the Jet Black, which as mentioned earlier has a distinctly higher tier feel to it thanks to their being no 32Gb version.
The 6S will also see a similar doubling in storage to 32Gb and 128Gb respectively.
Pricing for the 7 has been confirmed to be the same as the 6S, with prices starting at $649 for the 7 and 769 for the 7 Plus. Pre-orders will open on the 9th of September, with shipping happening on the 16th. iOS 10 will launch on the 13th of September. The Airpods will launch in late October with a price point of $159.