iPhone 7 review

Apple's previous generation smartphone continues to be a best-seller

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£499
  • One of the fastest phones we've ever tested; Excellent camera; iOS 10 has huge potential;
  • Jet black option feels tacky; No headphone port; No real advancements or innovations

iOS 11

At launch the iPhone 7 supported iOS 10, which was streaks ahead of Android and laid the foundations for some huge leaps forward in terms of applications. With the release of iOS 11 this year, the iPhone 7 was one of the first devices to receive the update, further building on an excellent software base.

Apple's flagship OS brings a host of new features, including improvements to its Siri AI voice assistant that make communicating with your device a more natural process. Both male and female voices are now more expressive and are able to adjust intonation and pitch, as well as emphasise words.

The iPhone 7 now also supports Apple's ARKit and the various supported augmented reality apps, as well as VR through 3rd party devices such as the Prism.

The update also brings Apple Pay person-to-person payments via the Messages app, new Touch ID functionality that lets you dial emergency services without entering a password, and new security functions that allow Touch ID to be disabled with a command.

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Elsewhere, there are a few notable updates to Apple's software, with key highlights being a number of improvements to the Messages app and the ability to capture photos in RAW format, as well as letting users delete preinstalled apps. As was the case with iOS 10, the you can also wake the iPhone 7 when you lift it, rather than having to press the home button.

Camera

It should come as a surprise to no-one that the iPhone 7's camera is absolutely superb. The resolution remains the same as the iPhone 6, with 12MP stills and 4K video capability, but Apple has put some work into tweaking and refining some of the camera's other elements to provide a boost in general quality.

Most notably, the basic iPhone 7 now has optical image stabilisation, a feature previously restricted to Plus models. This works marvelously, and will generally capture clean images with minimal noise, regardless of how much you or the subject are moving.

The f/1.8 aperture now means the sensor has around 50% more light to work with, while the improved ISP means faster processing for things like HDR photos. The front-facing selfie camera has also been improved, jumping from a 5MP sensor to 7MP. Photos have more detail and better contrast, while the flash seems to have been tuned up.

The camera is a marked improvement over the iPhone 6s's already-excellent snapper, and is very unlikely to disappoint. For our money, the Samsung Galaxy S7 still edges out the pair of them, but there's very little in it.

Verdict

The iPhone 7 has very few new tricks up its sleeve in terms of features, visual appearance or hardware. Instead, it's all minor iterations on the same formula Apple has been using for the previous three generations.

In many ways, Apple is a victim of its own success. The iPhone 7 is unquestionably one of the best smartphones around, but on the other hand, so was the iPhone 6s. If you already own the iPhone 7's predecessor, you'll be hard-pressed to find any new additions compelling enough to promt you to upgrade.

It's hard to get particularly excited about the iPhone 7, but not because it's a mediocre device - in fact, it's the exact opposite. Apple has been so reliably knocking iPhone design out of the park that the iPhone 7's brilliance has become dull and predictable, as is evidenced by the fact that the main features on most people's minds are a headphone jack and a button.

This is particularly apparent when contrasted against primary rival Samsung, a company that is continuing to push the envelope, creating fresh and interesting products. The Samsung Galaxy S8's edgeless 'Infinity display' immediately stands out as unlike anything we've ever seen, while the latest iPhone just feels like more of the same.

As the majority of Apple's major innovations were ultimately reserved for the iPhone X, it makes the iPhone 7 seem dull in comparison. The iPhone 7 is still a capable device - it's still incredibly fast for its spec, and there's not much we can really mark it down on - but more than any other iteration, the iPhone 7 feels like it's treading water.

Verdict

Apple's latest iPhone hits all the familiar notes you'd expect it to, and while it's still an amazing device, there's nothing here that we haven't seen before. If you're due for an upgrade, you're unlikely to be disappointed, but don't rush out to buy one.

Display4.7in, 1,334 x 750 
CPUQuad-core A10 Fusion
Storage32GB (base)
Dimensions138 x 67 x 7.1mm
Weight138g
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