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iPhone 7 review: Its speed and camera are crazy-good, but it still drives me crazy

Susie Ochs | Sept. 22, 2016
I miss the headphone jack, OK?

iphone7 review adam 5 compare 6s 
The iPhone 7 (on the left) looks nicer with the relocated antenna bars. 

While Apple did remove the analog headphone port (and trust me, I’ll get way into that a little later), it did add a second speaker for stereo sound when you hold the phone in landscape mode. The extra speaker is up near the FaceTime camera, and I could hear a bit of stereo separation when streaming The Force Awakens in the Videos app. Watching the same passage on an iPhone 6s, it was more obvious the sound was only coming from one speaker, and the iPhone 7 was louder too.

Another nice addition is the doubling of storage sizes. The entry-level iPhone 7 is now 32GB instead of 16GB. The middle tier is 128GB, and the high-end 256GB. That’s a pretty big deal if you’re always having to manage your available storage by deleting photos and videos. The iPhone SE tops out at 64GB, and the iPhone 6s at 128GB, so if you need a huge amount of storage, the iPhone 7 is the way to go.

Camera

This review only covers the iPhone 7—we’ll follow up with a separate review of the iPhone 7 Plus, which has two cameras. The iPhone 7 has one 12-megapixel iSight camera, but its performance is much improved over the iPhone 6s. It’s got a wider aperture lens, f1.8, which lets in more light for better photos in low-light conditions than the iPhone 6s’s f2.2 lens. The iPhone 7 also has optical image stabilization, which used to be confined to the larger Plus models. The TrueTone flash is also 50 percent brighter thanks to four LEDs, and Apple says it can even compensate for the subtle flickering of indoor lighting.

iphone7 review adam 4 cameras 6s
Bigger is better. The f1.8 aperture lens on the back of the iPhone 7 (right) takes much better photos in low light than the iPhone 6s.

None of that changes how you actually use the Camera app—it’s just easier to get a good photo without any extra effort. Colors look amazing on the screen, and the iPhone 7 captures the wider P3 color gamut. (iOS 10 even lets third-party apps capture RAW data from the camera, but the stock Camera app still saves images as JPEGs.) My low-light photos show more detail, and daytime photos look better thanks to the vibrant color and the optical image stabilization.

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The image on the left, taken with an iPhone 6s, has lens flare, while the iPhone 7 image (on the right) has better color on the car as well as in the sky. 

 

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