The iPhone 7 is officially here, and while many of the new device’s features had already been leaked on social media, it became clear during Apple’s presentation this morning that the sum really is more than its parts. Introduced at an Apple event this morning at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, CA, Apple’s Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller presented “the most singular, most evolved presentation of [the iPhone] design” yet. Schiller highlighted 10 new features found in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, spending a bit of time highlighting each.
Beginning by highlighting the design, Schiller introduced the new glossy “Jet Black” and more matte “Black” finishes, as well as the re-engineered, force sensitive and solid state Home Button that integrates with Apple’s new Taptic Engine. Perhaps the most exciting design feature for users, however, is the fact that both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus devices have been completely redesigned with water and dust-resistant enclosures.
Schiller then moved on to demo the impressive new cameras for both devices. The new iPhone 7 camera features optical image stabilization, a wider aperture to let in more light, a high-speed sensor, new true-tone flash, and a new image signal processor. As expected, the iPhone 7 Plus features two 12 MP cameras – one featuring a wide angle lens and one featuring a telephoto lens, allowing true optical zoom up to 2x and software zooming up to 10x, as well as the new ability to take photos with a shallow depth of field for stunning portraits. As Schilling pointed out at the end of his demo, the new camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is the best camera ever created for a smartphone, and will likely be, for many users, the best camera they’ve ever owned.
Third on the list was the Retina HD Display, that Schiller claimed to be the best on any smartphone. The new display is 25% brighter, and features a wide color gamut with cinema standard colors, as well as the 3D Touch layer.
The iPhone’s speakers were next on the list, with both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus featuring stereo speakers with a huge jump forward in audio quality. Both phones feature speakers on both the top and the bottom of the device, providing the user with twice the volume and improved sound quality with an increased dynamic range.
Probably the most controversial aspect of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus has been Apple’s decision to axe the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack found on every previous version of the iPhone (and iPod, and almost every other audio-capable device in the past hundred years). Schiller pointed out during his presentation that only Apple has the “courage” to make such a bold move, and that the “ancient, analog, single purpose” 3.5mm connector simply took up too much room in such a small device packed with so much new technology. Included in the box with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be Apple’s brand-new Lightning-enabled EarPods, as well as an adapter for users that prefer to use their own devices that utilize the traditional 3.5mm connection. What Schiller failed to address, however, is the complaint that users listening to music on Lighting-enabled headphones won’t be able to charge their phones while listening – a sacrifice Apple seemed willing to make when designing the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
After introducing the EarPods, Schiller moved on to demonstrate the oft-rumored wireless AirPods that have seen leaks and concepts making the rounds on the internet for the past several months. The AirPods include a brand new, Apple-designed “W1” chip for intelligent, high-efficiency playback with a consistent connection. The AirPods can detect, and only play when placed in a user’s ears for maximum battery efficiency, as well as the ability to use only one AirPod at a time if desired. Users can double tap the AirPods to access Siri and give commands via built-in microphones on both AirPods. The AirPods offer 5 hours of playback on a single charge, and can be recharged in the case, which itself provides the AirPods with an additional 24 hours of battery life. Setup across devices is incredibly easy, with users simply opening the case near their iPhone, Apple Watch, or Mac to sync.
Schiller went on to discuss the future of Apple Pay, claiming that over 90% of wireless transactions/contactless payments today use the service. Schiller claimed that Apple Pay would launch in Japan, with Japanese iPhone 7 and 7 Plus devices including “FeliCa” technology (Japan’s version of NFC), late in October. Alongisde Apple Pay, the company will launch Transit directions in Maps for Japanese users later in the fall.
To round out the presentation, Schiller highlighted the brand-new A10 Fusion chip featured in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The 64-bit, four-core CPU contains 3.3 billion transistors. 2 “High Performance” cores offer 40% faster processing than Apple’s A9 chip, and 2x faster processing than the A8 chip – for reference, the high performance chips process 120x faster than the chip on the original iPhone. The other 2 “High Efficiency” cores run at 1/5th the power of the High Performance cores, and are utilized for low-power tasks such as checking email. The cores are controlled by an Apple-designed performance controller, and result in the “longest battery life ever in an iPhone”, providing the iPhone 7 on average 2 hours more battery life than the iPhone 6s, and the iPhone 7 Plus on average an extra hour of battery life over the iPhone 6s Plus. The chip also features a new GPU, which is 50% faster than the GPU found on the A9 chip, and 3x faster than on the A8 chip. The new GPU provides console-level gaming, with Heather Price of ThisGame studios demonstrating their new graphically-intensive title Oz Broken Kingdom on the device. The new A10 chip is the most powerful chip ever put in a smartphone.
While Apple didn’t introduce any ground-breaking new features into the devices, the impressive new cameras, gorgeous new display, and incredible performance still make the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus the most powerful smartphones on the market today. The devices will be available for pre-order on September 9, and will begin shipping on September 16. The iPhone 7 will be available for $649 for the 32GB model, $749 for the 128GB model, and $849 for the 256GB. The iPhone 7 Plus will be available for $769 for the 32GB model, $869 for the 128GB model, and $969 for the 256GB model.