Owning an iPhone 6 and reading the ever increasing hype around the release of the new iPhone 7, due for the first couple of weeks in September, you may be forgiven for climbing onto the bandwagon and thinking that you need to trade in your old phone for the new one. But should you really be considering this step? What are the real differences between the two offerings? Let’s have a look….
Obviously the first thing will be the looks. Do the two offerings look very different? The simple answer is no, they will look very similar but there are visual differences that the eagle eyed observer will notice. The first is the lack of antenna lines on the back of the new 7-Series. The phone’s antenna appear to have been moved to the top and bottom of the case so you get a thin line at the top and bottom giving the back the look of having a thin bumper top and bottom.
Another difference will be the loss of the home button on the front of the 7. The advent of 3D touch technology in the current 6S and 6S Plus will make it possible for the home button to be eliminated and if this comes about, then the 7 will have a larger screen area. Rumour indicates that the screen on the entry level model will be around 5” to 5.7”on the Plus model. If this important in terms of applications that you need to run on the phone, then this slightly larger area may well be an important consideration. Aesthetically there may be some new colours available but as most people use a cover to protect this extremely expensive appliance, perhaps the dark blue, or black with a hint of grey, or rose gold that is currently being touted as new colours for the 7, will not be a deal breaker for you.
Improved water and dust resistance is certainly an area that many users would deem important and apparently the new 7-Series will have an IP68 rating (meaning the phone will be fully dust proof and can be immersed in water for up to 30 minutes). Obviously every hole that you make in the jacket of the phone, to accommodate items such as the head-phone jack or the charging cable, lessen the chances of the unit being truly water and dust resistant, though Apple have patented a waterproofing methodology whereby the internal components are coated to ensure waterproofing rather than making an impervious shell. This takes care of waterproofing but dust is another matter altogether. Thus the indications that the new 7 series will come out with no headphone jack, but will be accompanied by wireless ear-buds, should be great news to everyone. Apple has registered the trade name AirPods, which could indicate the name for the new cordless ear buds. Perhaps, but I can see an entrepreneur bringing out an adaptor that will allow the use of the current plethora of earphones that are available for the iPhone so we can continue to use those very comfy earphones that we use every day.
Another hole in the case that could be done away with is the charging connector. The experts differ on this point with almost a 50/50 split between those that believe that Apple will be following in the path that other manufacturers have trod, in providing for cordless charging and those that think this will be a 2017 feature as Apple perfects their new technology. The new technology is based around Apple’s recent patent application for ’smart aluminium’, which will place “an imitation metal oxide layer” on the case that will allow electricity to be conducted through the case to charge the batteries inside.
Camera functionality on cell phones has become ubiquitous and the ease of use and quality of the captured image has become superb. The new iPhone 7 will, it is certain, come out with the impressive 12Mp iSight camera that the 6 Plus uses but the technology gained by Apple’s acquisition of LinX Imaging will almost certainly infer dual systems on the new offering. If this happens then the 7-series will offer improved noise reduction, improved low light imaging (though the low light video offering may not have improved significantly), 3D depth mapping and even 2 or 3 times optical zoom functionality in the 7Plus unit.
Battery usage and management is a vital component of any smart phone offering and one of the major gripes of many users, especially those travelling in areas where the ability to recharge can be somewhat erratic. Leaked images indicate that the 7-Series will carry a 1735mAh battery (2810mAh on the 7 Plus) which is larger than the 1715mAh currently in use on the 6 (2750mAh on the 6Plus).
Screen resolution is one of those buzz phrases that people like to throw around but in reality the current 6-Series with its 401ppi, and we suspect the 7-Series, has sufficient sharpness for most images. Whilst it is true that other manufacturers have released units with pixel densities well above that of the Apple offerings, the expense of manufacturing the screens, the drain on the battery life and the degradation of application performance when running applications in native resolution, make it unlikely that Apple will follow the herd on this issue.
The rumour that seems to be most based in fact is the issue around storage capacity. For some time entry level users, the place where Apple should be looking to lock in long term, repeat customers, have struggled with 16GB storage which is nowhere enough when the phone is used in either the business or social environments. The inability to store all music, games, applications and photographs together has been frustrating and the current crop of cloud technologies does not make up for this frustration. The new 7-Series will come out with considerably more storage capacity and the 16GB option will not be offered.
The processor offered in the 7-Sieries will be improved allowing for the new A10 and M10 motion processor making their debut. Again there is contention about the memory offered but it does seem that the 7 Plus will be given more RAM, most probably to deal with the dual camera system.
One issue that could be a deal breaker for any consumer is the cost. The latest estimates are that the entry level 7-Series will come in at around £750 or close to US$1,000. This is a bucket full of money in anyone’s book and if the phone is not on contract, it could be the end of the iPhone 7 dream for many.
So, to go back to our initial question, should you buy the new offering? Well if your current phone is restrictive in terms of RAM, screen size or storage, then perhaps the new offering would be a simple decision but for the average user who does not really use more than a fraction of the units capability it is more a question of ‘want’ rather than ‘need’. In this case, the cost of the unit would be your determining factor – would your wallet wince at the thought of laying out the amount required for a new phone and is that phone that important to you socially? If the answer to the first part of the question is no and the second part yes, then Apple will have made at least one sale!