It’s the big day. Apple’s announced the iPhone 7 and all its glorious upgrades. After all the rumors and the hype, does it really live up to the buzz? Let us break it down for you.
Audio and Battery Life
The first and most important new feature: yes, Apple has done away with the 3.5mm headphone port on their phones. The iPhone 7 will instead utilize the Lightning port, from which the phones charge, as a headphone port. Alternatively, you can pick up a pair of Apple Airpods, or wireless headphones designed by Apple, with a built-in microphone and Siri functionality, all with infrared tech that can tell when you’re wearing them. The biggest downside to this, assuming you don’t go wireless, is the lack of a separate port to listen through your headphones while your phone charges. Considering the phone’s claim to have “the longest battery life ever in an iPhone,” this might not be a problem, but if you’re the type to listen at work to downloaded podcasts or music on your phone, you might wish you could do both simultaneously. The iPhone 7 and 7s will also ship with a 3.5mm adapter so you can use your old tech, but unless they’re introducing a splitter, too, that won’t fix our issue.
Available in the widest range of colors yet for iPhones, the iPhone 7 will launch in five shades: rose, gold, silver, matte black, and jet black. It also boasts water and dust resistance with a new, more enclosed design (which might be why they did away with the headphone jack, too) so users aren’t as devastated by a drop in a puddle or their phone mixing it up with the grime at the bottom of their purse. This is a far cry from the Samsung S7’s waterproof-for-30-minutes body (which includes a headphone jack), but it’s definitely an improvement to the previously delicate nature of the iPhone’s design. The iPhone 7 and 7s will also ship with double the storage of old phones, starting at 32GB and going all the way up to 256GB.
Smile for the Camera
Twelve megapixels in the back, 7 in the front, and a whole lotta processing power in between. The iPhone 7 and 7s will both ship with these improvements, and the 7s will have a 12-megapixel telephoto camera that will offer up to 10 times digital zoom for photos. If you’re into cellphone photography, go for the 7s on this. The phone’s A10 Fusion chip, a four-core processor with two high-performance and two high-efficiency cores, can process your photos and apps up to three times faster than the iPhone 6 and almost halves the power used (although this still only translates to about two hours of extra battery time).
Run, Mario, Run!
The keynote opened today with the announcement that Nintendo had partnered with Apple to bring an exclusive new Mario game to the App Store, namely “Super Mario Run.” The app is a simple runner game with a Mario theme and Nintendo’s crisp design, and you can play against your friends and compete for high scores, much like almost every other runner game on the market (but this one’s Nintendo, so it’s special). This move seems smarter for Nintendo than it does for Apple, and we have to wonder why a single app was announced for the App Store during a hardware unveiling. It might have something to do with Nintendo’s plummeting stock post-Pokemon Go release or that the Nintendo NX won’t be available until next year, but their strategy seems to have worked, as their stock soared by 20% after the announcement.
“Watch” Out for Pokemon
The other big announcement came from Niantic, Inc., the somewhat maligned developers of Pokemon Go, who revealed updates for the Apple Watch that will allow users to play Pokemon Go without needing their phones in their hand. The Watch will show players when Pokemon appear in the wild near them, allow them to check in at Pokestops and show them how many steps until their eggs are hatched, logging those steps traveled as a workout. As cool as this all seems, we’d like to see Niantic iron out the myriad issues with Pokemon Go as it is before we’ll get excited about Apple Watch functionality.
Should You Buy?
At FatWallet, we’re not about the hype; we’re about making smart choices and saving money. There are a lot of places already claiming that Apple has “killed” the 3.5mm headphone jack and cord, but A) that’s incendiary and hyperbolic, and B) Apple products are not the only things that use 3.5mm. Wired is still more reliable than wireless, as evidenced by Apple moving their headphones to the Lightning adapter instead. They’re not eschewing wires; they’re just making a power play in the tech market so you’ll have to go Bluetooth or buy their proprietary tech. If you don’t mind being tied to one type of technology or if it makes purchasing easier when you don’t have a million options, then Apple is becoming increasingly more appealing.
As for the phone itself, it’s a bit of the same song since last time: slight upgrades all around to make a much stronger product. While individually these updates might seem minuscule, together they provide users with a smoother, faster, more pleasant experience than the previous iPhones. If the lack of a serious iPhone revolution is the only thing stopping you from buying this phone, don’t let it. In today’s age of tech where everything moves faster than you can blink, waiting on the iPhone to change drastically is a fool’s game, and you’ll be left behind by the frequent upgrades and updates in the market. Also, if you’re thinking you can get away with hanging onto your iPhone 4 or just picking one up on the cheap, stop yourself. Apple won’t be supporting that device much longer (if at all) after the iOS 10 release on Sept. 13, so upgrade as soon as you can if you want to stay Apple relevant.
If you’re an Android user wondering if you should make the switch, the only “exclusives” Apple has are the Nintendo exclusive (which will probably be un-exclusive in a few years, since we doubt Nintendo is going to keep its white-gloved mitts off the Android market for Mario) and their fancy no-headphone-jack design. You can get almost any of the other features, plus much more software freedom on Android phones, and it is becoming more and more of a massive pain to swap between the two as they diverge from each other. You might end up regretting it more than you thought, so save your cash and stick with the phone you’ve got, especially if you just updated to the Samsung S7 or Note7.
The iPhone 7 hits stores in over 25 countries, including the U.S., Sep. 16., starting at $649.
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