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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.

The iPhone 7 flat out takes better pictures than previous iPhones, especially in lower- light situations. That's true for both the smaller iPhone 7 and the larger iPhone 7 Plus, which has a new two-camera system.

In the iPhone 7, the rear camera has optical stabilization, an ƒ/1.8 aperture, and a six-element lens; it takes 12-megapixel photos. In low-light situations, photos still show some digital noise, but the new system is able to pick up more details and colors than before, and the optical stabilization helps reduce blur due to light camera shake. Not everyone has steady hands.

An updated True Tone flash system relies on four LEDs to compensate for low-light cases when a flash is needed. These LEDs are brighter than before (Apple says 50% brighter), and help bring out more natural colors (such as skin tone) compared to a traditional flash.

The rear camera also records video at up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second and can capture better footage in low-light situations. As before, the iPhone 7 can also record Time Lapse and slow-motion footage.

iphone 7 rocks zoom 
The iPhone 7 Plus has two cameras that allow for 2X optical zoom.

The front-facing FaceTime camera also received a bump in resolution, moving from 5MP to 7MP. The resulting photos are sharper, which should help the selfie crowd, and they make for smoother video when on FaceTtime video chats.

All of the camera functions are processed by a custom-built image signal processor that's part of the A10 Fusion chip, automatically adjusting images and video for cleaner and clearer results as data is recorded.

iphone 7 cameras

While the iPhone 7's camera system is a nice step up from the 6S, it's not the best camera on an iPhone. That honor belongs to the iPhone 7 Plus. The Plus model's two rear-facing cameras include one that takes traditional wide shots at a 28mm focal length, while the second camera is fixed on a 56mm focal length (with an ƒ/2.8 aperture). Together, they effectively deliver 2x optical zoom, with the built-in camera software switching between the two on the fly when you press the on-screen zoom button. The iPhone 7 Plus camera system allows for up to 10x digital magnification (6x for video), and since it uses the 56mm lens as the starting point, you'll get better detail than possible with just the 28mm wide lens. But you may see some pixilation.

Here is where the additional memory in the 7 Plus comes into play. When photos are taken, both cameras fire off simultaneously, and Apple's image signal processor uses the data from both lenses to form a single image. (This happens automatically, without user intervention.)


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