iPhone 7 hands-on: A gorgeous phone with just enough innovation to keep fans excited
Apple’s event was full of announcements that lived up to expectations (the new iPhone has no headphone jack) as well as surprises .
After the presentation, the jam-packed room with sample handsets, watches and headphones gave press a chance to get their mitts on the hardware.
First impressions of the new iPhones were strong. There are two new colours for the phones, both of them black. One has a matte finish, which Apple is calling black (there’s original) and the other is super-glossy, called jet black.
The glossy version, although it’s instantly prone to fingerprints, is gorgeous. Photographs don’t do it justice.
It’s so slick and shiny it’s easy to think the whole phone is made of glass, so seamless is the edging between back and front. But it’s not, it’s aluminium, like all previous iPhones apart from the iPhone 3G and 3GS, but it’s been heavily polished.
For the other colour options there’s a less noticeable difference between this phone and last year’s model, though the antenna line has moved and looks significantly better as a result.
That missing headphone jack means the audio from the speakers on the phone is better than before and it’s the first iPhone with stereo speakers. Sound from the bundled EarPods with Lightning connector was good, but the environment was too noisy to know more than that.
The updates on the phones were particularly evident on the iPhone 7 Plus with its dual-camera set-up that skillfully swerves past the fact that almost all cameraphones lack optical zoom features.
The camera defaults to the wide-angle sensor (marked as 1x on the display). Touch the number and it turns to 2x and the telephoto lens sensor is in play. It’s a clever solution and is implemented with typical Apple simplicity.
Further down the line a software update is coming which will add a feature where both cameras will be used at the same time to take portraits where the subject is in super-sharp focus and the background artfully blurred.
The third piece of hardware revealed was the Apple Watch Series 2, which remarkably had not leaked at all. The hardware looks nearly identical to current Apple Watch models, but this time the timepiece is waterproof. When you’re going swimming, the screen automatically locks. Then at the end of your swim – and this is the kind of detail that only Apple could come up with – the speaker vibrates to expel the water which has trickled in. Genius.
The new watches look and feel identical to the current models except for a special edition Nike running watch which has a Swiss cheese perforated strap and the replacement for the high-end Watch Edition. Gold and rose gold are gone, replaced by ceramic, in a beautiful, shiny white finish. This isn’t cheap (from £1,249) but is a snip compared to last year’s gold versions.
The final hardware announced was AirPods – wireless headphones that sit in the ear, looking like a cross between a Bluetooth headset and white earrings. Sensors know when you take one out of your ear and pause the music automatically. And as well as low-energy Bluetooth for the audio connection, a proprietary system means you can auto-connect the AirPods to your iPhone without pairing. Once you’ve connected them, you can switch them to any other device running iOS 10 that is linked to your Apple ID automatically.
Apple’s new phones, Watch and earphones are intriguing and innovative, with new features and improved design to keep fans interested.