The iPhone 7 – An Early Review

The iPhone 7 is here. Just about a year after the launch of the iPhone 6s, Apple is at it again.

This is to be expected when you launch your newest smartphone in September of every year. The following is a review of the brand new iPhone that I picked up on launch day, September 16, 2016.

Apple Store employees in Berlin preparing for the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Jet Black option pictured in background. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The pre-order process went like any other. I had sold my iPhone 6, given my 6s to my girlfriend, and prepared to preorder the iPhone 7 at 2 a.m. Central Daylight Time. The reservation process was a breeze; I selected the 128 GB iPhone 7 (the Plus is a bit too big for me) in Black. Not the Jet Black, which Apple has already admitted as being prone to micro-abrasions; online publication AppleInsider highlights this. Not something you want to hear when resale will be on your mind when the next phone comes out.

I knew I would be in Buffalo, New York, visiting family the day the phone came out, so I selected the local Apple Store there for same-day pickup. Since I was paying in full, the price of the phone before tax was $749.

I then headed over to Amazon for a case, choosing the Spigen TOUGH ARMOR, which already had holes for the dual speaker grills and which canceled out the “camera bump” so the phone would lay flat while resting on a table.

Launch day? A classic Apple production as usual. My mother accompanied me to the Apple Store in Buffalo, where we had a 1:30 p.m. slot reserved to pick up the phone. We spotted a cart full of water bottles, coffee, and granola bars. Probably from earlier in the day for those who waited for the doors to open early in the morning. The wait wasn’t too bad, and we were soon ushered into the store.

After some idle chitchat, the new iPhone was brought out quickly and enthusiastically. I told the friendly Apple Store employee that I was familiar with the setup process and could handle it at home.

Without further ado…

Opening It Up

The packaging was svelte as usual, not surprising when the company who created it literally tests hundreds of box designs for the perfect duration as reported by Mashable in 2012. When it comes time to open it, there is just the right amount of suspense for what’s inside. Even more efficient than usual, there was no shrink-wrapped cellophane around the box, just a pull tab that allowed the transparent plastic covering to come away with ease.

Customers at the Covent Garden Apple Store in London take a look at the new iPhone 7 in person.
(Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images for Apple)

What’s Inside

What greets you when you first open the box for the new iPhone 7? The perfunctory “Designed by Apple in California,” written on a small folder containing a “Welcome to iPhone” getting started card, the usual safety and warranty information, and of course, the Apple stickers, this time on a frosted, translucent, thin slice of plastic.

Behind this folder, the star attraction: the iPhone 7 in all its glory. The matte black anodized aluminum is beautiful. This time it’s 7000-series, making it more durable than ever. The camera is noticeably larger, I already can’t wait to flex the muscles of the 12-megapixel sensor. Right away, I notice the dual speaker grills; very surreal not to see a conventional headphone jack peering out from the bottom-left side. I try pressing the home button, and it’s amazing not to feel a physical button depressing. Upon powering up however, the taptic engine behind the solid button emulated the familiar feeling.

Behind the phone, a five watt USB charger cube (in my humble opinion, I still prefer the larger 12 watt adapter, which charges an iPhone more rapidly). Above this, a set of EarPods, with three button controls and microphone, wrapped around a square of cardstock. This time, their cord ends with a Lightning connector. On the other side of the cardstock, a Lightning to ⅛ inch headphone jack adapter. I’m so glad they included this, as I love my current pair of headphones (the Tracks Ultra by SOL REPUBLIC).

Underneath the square, the expected USB to Lightning cable.


First Impressions

Overall, what can I say? The iPhone 7 is the best yet, as you would expect with any device that is updated incrementally. The A10 processor is so snappy that usage feels more effortless than ever, the “taptic” home button is a joy to use, the screen is as vibrant and bright as Apple claims… then there’s the speakers.

Any qualms you have about sacrificing that headphone jack go away once you realize the sheer power of dual speakers on bottom and the inclusion of the earpiece to provide stereo sound when in landscape mode. The iPhone 7 is nearly as loud as a decent portable Bluetooth speaker! I put “How Soon Is Now?” on by The Smiths and could hear it across my parents’ house crystal clear and with well-rounded sound quality.

It may just be me, yet using my regular headphones with the included adapter may provide higher quality sound than what I’ve been used to in the past.

The Spigen case fit snuggly with a generous lip to assist with screen protection (I’m planning on putting an anti-glare screen protector on the phone once I return to Chicago). Another great feature is the speaker holes, which are angled toward the front.

I am very pleased with the initial experiences I’ve had with the iPhone 7. If you are on the fence, worry not. Apple has your best interests at heart.

[Featured image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]