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Deep-dive review: The iPhone 7 Plus is the best iPhone yet

Michael deAgonia | Oct. 10, 2016
Even without an audio jack, the iPhone 7 Plus is packed with welcome updates.

apple iphone 7 
Apple's iPhone 7 Plus on display in an Apple Store in Los Angeles.

The iPhone's high-resolution Retina HD display is flanked by either a white or a black bezel; the rear case comes in silver, gold, rose gold, jet black and matte black. (Sorry, space gray fans - the iPhone 7 isn't offered in that color.) The most noticeable change is that the antenna lines have been moved to the top and bottom of the case, giving the iPhone 7 an unbroken, smooth finish. On the darker colors, the antenna lines pretty much disappear (unless held to the light at certain angles).

The Power button, mute switch and volume buttons are unchanged, and the Home button/ Touch ID fingerprint scanner is still centered at the bottom of the display. But it's no longer a mechanical button that you press down. It now uses a haptic sensor - Apple's Taptic Engine - that is pressure sensitive and gives click-like feedback when pressed.

The new Home button takes some getting used to; it's not any harder or easier to use than before, but it does feel different. The response to pressing the Home button is more akin to a thump than a click. One of the benefits of the new design is that you can adjust how much of a response you'll feel. Just go to Settings: General: Home Button.

Same look, but improvements abound

Why would Apple take what's become an iconic design routinely copied by competitors and tweak the Home button and headphone jack? For one thing, both changes help make the iPhone 7 more resistant to dust and water.

How resistant? Apple states that the iPhone 7 has an IP67 rating under the IEC standard 60529, which is legalese meaning it can survive for 30 minutes under three feet of water. It's fine if you drop it in the sink or get caught in the rain, but try to avoid scuba diving. (One tester actually did take it scuba diving while recording 4K video with its built-in camera. But you shouldn't.) If it does get immersed, Apple recommends waiting about five hours before attempting to charge the phone again.

Internally, the iPhone 7 is built around Apple's custom-designed A10 Fusion chip. In normal use, the iPhone 7 is responsive and quick to load, as was the iPhone 6S. The 64-bit A10 Fusion chipset is rated 40% faster than the A9 found on the 6S, so anyone upgrading from an iPhone 6S will notice a speed bump for everyday tasks like loading apps, browsing the web and loading content. That speed boost will be more dramatic if you're upgrading from an iPhone 6 or earlier. Apple boasts that the A10 is twice as fast compared to the A8 chipset in the iPhone 6, which itself was dramatically faster than previous models.

 

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