iOS

The iPhone 7 Plus just proved tech geeks wrong for counting out Apple

It’s been a long discussed notion that Apple’s conservative approach to smartphone hardware often meant the iPhone would lag behind comparative Android devices. Debates would rage as to whether bleeding edge hardware was more important than refining that hardware for a smoother consumer experience. In unveiling the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple might have pulled off the impossible, balancing bleeding edge tech specs look against a familiar design language.

What we aren’t surprised to see is a very familiar shell for the iPhone 7. Subtle adjustments will help distinguish this new iPhone from the iPhone 6 and 6S. Many folks will be happy to see a design which omits the antenna banding running around the rear shell, and while Rose Gold (Metallic Salmon Pink) remains, the hot new look for this year will be a Jet Black piano glossy finish.

What we care about though are those tasty tech specs. One of the advantages in slow playing some of these advancements, when they all arrive in a batch like this, it makes for a substantial impression. Why are we so excited for the iPhone 7 Plus? Here are our top five tech bullet points!

Scaling Processor Power

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Apple’s A series chipsets really haven’t struggled in delivering horsepower against the processors and GPU’s found in Android flagships. If anything, they sometimes might be too powerful for the “space efficient” batteries Apple includes in such thin phones.

Apple’s approach this year with the A10 moves the iPhone to a quad core design with two BIG cores for heavy lifting and two low power cores for handling more menial tasks. We’ve seen this kind of processor tech before, and it’s currently in use on the Qualcomm 820 found in most high end Android devices released this year.

Normally we wouldn’t be quite so keen on lower power tech, but when paired with the larger battery in the 7 Plus, and Apple’s reputation for excellent optimization between hardware and software, expectations are very high for Apple’s phablet. This could set a new standard for battery performance on large screen phones.

A Camera With Reach

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Apple once set the standard for phone cameras, but of late iPhones have been lagging behind some of the more exciting advances in mobile photo and video. The 7 Plus aims to catch Apple up in a big way.

At its core, the main photo capturing instrument will be a 12MP shooter with optical image stabilization, and a new quad LED flash. Augmenting this camera will be a second sensor with a longer focal length providing a true optical 2X zoom. Apple decided more consumers wanted more reach, and panorama photos can satisfy folks wanting a wider shot.

Now we’ve seen numerous dual sensor experiments from other manufacturers. Most recently the battle between LG and Huawei/Honor with very different philosophies on how dual camera sensors should work. Apple’s solution is more akin to LG’s offering, but even then, Apple’s twist on the idea is delivering more zoom instead of the ultra-wide camera found on the LG G5 and V20. Dual cameras aren’t new but at least Apple has a fresh take on the concept. We’ll have something new to look at when we wrap up the iPhone 7 Plus Real Camera Review later this month.

More Competitive Storage Options

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We’re all a bit relieved to see that moving forward, the 16GB Apple flagship phone is now dead. With the iPhone 7, your base storage starts at 32GB, and there are options to take that up to a whopping 256GB of built in storage. We’re starting to see more premium Android phones start at 64GB, but Apple has a much more competitive starting option now.

Sure, a high speed 128GB memory card can be had for around $50, but disturbingly few consumers ever take advantage of that option even when they buy phones which can use memory cards. Apple will soon deliver the single highest storage option in any phone available, even competing with nice laptops.

Stereo Speakers on an iPhone

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It looks to us like Apple is also making better use of that bezel space on the iPhone. There’s quite a bit of forehead and chin surface area on a Plus sized iPhone, but we have one additional feature making use of that space in that the iPhone will now have stereo speakers. Sure they aren’t front facing, but doubling the speakers should still double the output and help maximize dynamic range and stereo imaging. The iPhone has historically had a respectable bottom firing speaker, so adding a second to the top of the phone should certainly improve gaming and video playback.

We expect having better audio hardware built into the phone will also come in handy for that time you lose your Lightning headphone adapter but still want to jam some tunes. Someday we’ll tell you all about how that happened to us on the Moto Z…

Life-Proof Water Resistance

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Lastly, we must celebrate every manufacturer which improves their product’s lifestyle durability. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus arriving with IP67 water resistance is an exciting development. Just based on its design, previous iPhones have been fairly splash resistant, but none have been properly rated to survive being completely submerged. Now consumers can be even more confident that such an expensive purchase, a device which people increasingly depend on to make it through their days, will be a bit more durable.

The Best iPhone Ever?

Taken individually, none of these updates are earth shaking, but there’s a vibe here which feels a bit fresher than our coverage of the iPhone 6S. Moving far beyond “the camera gets more megapickles and now it comes in pink”, Apple is addressing tech, style, and user experience on multiple fronts. That’s really good for us.

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We always cringe every time an Apple executive proclaims “this is the best iPhone we’ve ever made”, as if Apple would ever deliver a poorer iPhone than the one it was replacing. After watching this announcement though, we’re a bit more excited to run the iPhone 7 Plus through its paces. There’s been a general conversation that Apple has lost its mojo in delivering on both form and function. We’ve certainly contributed to that conversation in podcasts and videos.

We can also acknowledge that a radical change from Apple would be unlikely. In fact it’s doubtful that any manufacturer will be able to deliver a consumer facing smartphone as industry-changing as the original iPhone, but we always hope for a strong showing from each manufacturer we review. Competition is the name of the game, and our fear is an industry which becomes too lopsided, or “new” products which feel stale. The iPhone 7 Plus looks like it will give us something to talk about.

What did you think of the announcement today? Did Apple do enough to improve this iPhone over previous years? Drop us a comment below!

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About The Author
Juan Carlos Bagnell
Juan has been geeking out on personal computing since before PCs had GUIs. After studying Theatre in college, Juan worked with a contractor that supported servers and mobile devices for Department of Energy facilities. After moving to Los Angeles California, and working as a commercial casting director, he now dedicates his time to discussing the tech landscape as a consumer advocate. You’ll often see him pop in local news broadcasts. Passionate about mobile content creation, he recently published his first book on smartphone photography.