In Brief

iPhone 7 review: Why the new iPhone is not worth buying

Critics say the phone's 'poor' battery life, predictable design and lack of headphone jack are 'disappointing'

iPhone 7: Prices, specs, and how to get one

16 September

The yearly sight of Apple fans queuing up outside stores in order to get their hands on the latest iPhone is upon us – the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus launch today. 

Apple claims that consumer response to its controversial new set of smartphones has been huge and that many of the most popular models have already sold out. Pre-orders for the phablet-sized iPhone 7 Plus have wiped out all stock and you won't find it for sale in stores today. 

Similarly, if you've been holding out for the phone in its new, special edition jet black, you'll be out of luck when you visit an Apple store over the weekend.

The normal sized phone in a standard colour should be easier to find if you plan to buy one at launch. Here are all the specs and new features for the iPhone 7:

Design

The new devices are the exact same size as their predecessors in every dimension, meaning that the iPhone 7 is 7.1mm thick and the 7 Plus is a slightly fatter 7.3mm.

Five colours are available. Alongside gold, rose gold, and silver are two shades of black – a standard black and a polished jet black that's only available on higher spec iPhone 7 models.

The same aluminium casing with rounded edges and corners is used on the new phones, though it's been slightly altered. Both devices have tidier, repositioned antenna bands that neatly tuck into the top and bottom edges, plus reworked camera housings for the new hardware that lurks beneath.

There are two key differences. As expected, the iPhone 7 has no headphone jack and the home button underneath the display is no longer a physical, moving part.

No headphone jack

The absence of a headphone jack was one of the most persistent and controversial rumours in the run-up to the iPhone 7's launch and it's one that's come true – the iPhone 7 doesn't have a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. 

The omission is sure to irk many people and though it's easy to be cynical about Apple's motivations, the company has tried hard to justify why the iPhone 7 doesn't need one. It has included two extras in the box with the phone in order to make the transition away from the port as smooth as possible. 

The 3.5mm port is a very old connector and takes up a lot of space inside the device, so doubling up the Lightning Port's duties to charging and audio output not only means more space for new features, but better quality audio overall.

From now on, you'll be using wireless headphones or Lightning Port ready ones. Apple has bundled a pair of its white EarPods with a Lightning connector in the box. If you've got an expensive pair of headphones with a 3.5mm connector salvation is at hand – the company will be bundling a small Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor with every iPhone 7 as well. Just don't lose it.

New Home Button

The home button change is less dramatic but you'll feel its impact every time you use the phone – quite literally. It's a non-moving part but is pressure sensitive and kitted out with the latest Force Touch technology – haptic feedback that means it'll feel like it's clicking, even when it isn't.

This isn't just a gimmick. Combined with the loss of the headphone jack, it goes some way to explaining one of the iPhone 7's best new features – IP67 rated water and dust resistance. The iPhone still isn't as water resistant as Samsung's smartphones, but it has been tested to withstand immersion in water one metre deep for half an hour.

Liquid damage isn't under warranty though, so while it should be able to hold up against accidental dips in swimming pools and sinks, MacRumors recommends being just as careful with your next iPhone as you may be with your current one.

New cameras

Apple has introduced new cameras on their latest devices and Alphr says that they're "noticeably better" performers.

The standard phone has a 12 megapixel camera that's said to be 60 per cent faster and 30 per cent more energy efficient than the one on the iPhone 6S. It looks larger on the handset because of a wider lens that lets in 50 per cent more light. In theory, the snaps you take at night time and in dark spots should be far better on the new iPhone. Optical Image Stabilisation now features, so even if your hands are jerky you should be able to take excellent photos.

Apple has fitted a slightly different camera system to its iPhone 7 Plus, though. As expected, it’s a dual sensor set up. Alongside the same 12 megapixel wide angle lens you'll find on the smaller device is a telephoto lens. It means the iPhone 7 Plus has optical zoom and you can shoot in 2x zoom without losing any detail to fuzz like you would with the digital zoom you'll find on most smartphones. It isn't perfect – pictures will drop in quality beyond 2x as the system reverts back to a digital zoom.

Both cameras can record video in 4K quality and are designed to take advantage of the display's new wide colour gamut – this allows brighter, even more vibrant, colour capture. A quad LED flash sits alongside each camera and the front facing selfie camera has been bumped up from 5mp to 7mp.

Performance and battery life

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be powered by the new A10 Fusion chipset mated to 2GB RAM. In practical terms, Apple promises 40 per cent faster processing speeds compared to the A9 chip found in the 6S. It also promises a 50 per cent improvement for those upgrading from 2014's iPhone 6.

Even better news is the improved battery life. Apple claims that the iPhone 7 is the longest lasting iPhone yet. Those upgrading from the iPhone 6S set will receive an extra two hours per charge with the new phone.

Anything else?

The iPhone 7's speakers are much improved – it's a stereo setup now, with a speaker at both the top and bottom ends of the device. The sound should be louder and clearer – "great for movies and gaming", says TechRadar.

The display remains the same LCD setup with 3D Touch, sized 4.7ins on the regular phone and 5.5ins on the iPhone 7 Plus. However, Apple says it's 25 per cent brighter and the new wide colour gamut means that tones are more vibrant.

Price

Pre-orders for the phone have been open over the weekend and the first buyers will be getting their phones today when it officially goes on sale. 

The £599 starting price makes the iPhone 7 more expensive than the iPhone 6S was when it went on sale last September. However, you'll get new and improved storage options for your money. 

The entry level 16GB handset is no more. You'll be able to buy the phone in 32GB guise as standard, with 128GB and 256GB options above it.

The larger iPhone 7 Plus, with its exclusive dual camera setup, will be priced from £719. Again the same storage choices are offered.

If you like the look of Apple's new jet black phone, you'll have to fork out a bit more – it's only available on 128GB phones upwards, meaning a £699 outlay for the 4.7ins device, and £819 if you want it plus sized. The official UK release date is Friday 16 September.

In response to the iPhone 7's arrival, Apple has curtailed the iPhone 6 from its range, but the iPhone 6S will remain on sale for at least another year. Its starting price has now dropped to £499 and you can buy the phone in 32GB and 128GB configurations. 

What's the best way to buy one? 

The Telegraph has pieced together the best deals and ways to save money when buying the smartphone. 

Buying the phone outright from Apple is probably the simplest and cheapest way of getting hold of one – at least in the long run. 

Buy one unlocked from an Apple Store, and you'll have to spend at least £599 on the spot, depending on which model you choose. But you'll then be free to choose a SIM-only contract from pretty much any network. 

Alternatively, you could sign up to the Apple Upgrade Program from £33.45 a month with a £49 upfront fee. It spreads the cost of the phone over 20 months, but after a year you can trade it in at an Apple Store and get a new one, resetting the plan. AppleCare+ is also included in the deal. 

If you don't want a new phone every year, can't afford the £599 price tag, but would like an unlocked one directly from Apple, the iPhone Payments option might be for you. For a basic 32GB iPhone 7, you'll pay £27.50 a month with a £49.99 upfront payment. Over 20 months, it comes to the £599 price tag of the phone and not a penny more. 

Infographic by www.statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk 

If you don't fancy waiting for your iPhone to be delivered, MacRumors says there's a good chance you can get one on launch day next Friday, though big queues are likely to form at Apple's more popular stores.

 

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