The embargo on iPhone 7 reviews dropped this morning, and we woke up to a deluge of early reviews. Some of the major themes:
It’s Apple best iPhone yet.
Brian X. Chen, the New York Times: “The most compelling improvement on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is the sharp speed increase. Spurred by faster chips, everything — switching between apps, opening the camera — feels snappier. The iPhone 7 battery also gets about two hours more juice than the 6S.”
David Pierce, Wired: “They’re they best, fastest, strongest iPhones yet. They also indicate, nine years into the iPhone experiment, that we’re nearing some platonic ideal of a smartphone, the device in its final minimalist form.”
Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica: “Broadly speaking, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus still give you more: more speed, better camera, better screens, faster LTE, more battery life, more water-resistant. Year-over-year, it’s a respectable update. And compared to an aging iPhone 6 or 5S it’s a big jump forward.”
Edward C. Baig, USA Today: “The $769 iPhone 7 Plus is a solid, albeit incremental, upgrade to the company’s seminal smartphone. I’d buy it and can recommend it to those of you in the market for an upgrade.”
You’re probably going to miss the headphone jack — at least at first.
David Pierce, Wired: “There’s really nothing to say about the absence of the headphone jack except that it’s not there, which really is annoying sometimes. Like when I’m on the train, and can’t charge from an external battery and listen to music at the same time.”
Brian X. Chen, the New York Times: “After a while, I didn’t miss the headphone jack as much as I thought.”
Nilay Patel, the Verge: “You’re not totally out of luck if you have a big investment in corded headphones, but you’re going to want to stock up on those adapters if you regularly plug your phone into a car or have a variety of headphones you like to use — the dongle is small enough that it’s not obtrusive, but also small enough so that it’s destined to get lost if you move it around a lot. At $9, the headphone dongle is the cheapest Apple hardware you can buy; the company thinks people will just buy a few and keep them permanently attached to older headphones.”
That jet-black model sure does scratch easy.
Jon Gruber, Daring Fireball: “After just five days — more than half of which I’ve spent using the matte black iPhone 7 Plus — this jet black iPhone 7 has a few ‘micro abrasions’, to use Apple’s own term. I can only see them when I’m looking for them, and only when I reflect light off the surface at the perfect angle, but they’re there. This is after two days of careful use, and never putting it in a pocket that contains anything else. The back surface of this phone shows more wear after (effectively) two days of use than my space gray 6S does after nearly a year.”
David Pierce, Wired: “The two new colorways, jet black and black, are also a dead giveaway. Or, as I call them, I Already Scratched It Glossy Black and Awesome Secret Agent Matte Black.”
David Pogue, Yahoo Tech: “And get this: Apple warns that ‘its high shine may show fine micro-abrasions with use,’ so it suggests that ‘you use one of the many cases available to protect your iPhone.” OK what? Why would you choose a phone for its finish and then immediately bury it in a case? What am I missing?”
The new home button — which isn’t actually a button, just a surface you press — might be a bigger deal than the missing headphone jack.
David Pierce, Wired: “But I cannot, for the life of me, get used to the iPhone 7’s new home button. It’s not a button anymore, just a capacitive surface that uses haptic buzzes and taps to provide feedback. That’s great for the longevity of your phone, since the home button tends to break before anything else … But when I press to unlock my phone, my thumb vibrates like it’s about to dent the glass. It’s not like it ruins the phone, but I miss the click.”
Brian X. Chen, the New York Times: “[T]he older physical home button feels better to press than the new virtual one.”
Edward C. Baig, USA Today: “Removing the standard headphone jack has gotten the most attention, but changing the Home button may take even more getting used to.”
Chris Velazco, Engadget: “[T]he all-too-familiar home button isn’t a physical button anymore. It’s a solid-state affair that makes the phone taptically throb when you push it. This wound up being way more divisive a tweak than I expected; when I showed it off to colleagues, just about all of them recoiled at first press.
The phone is apparently getting zitty and awkwardly hairy?
Brian X. Chen, the New York Times: “Apple’s iPhone, just short of 10 years old, has hit puberty. Like adolescents coping with awkward changes to their bodies, the iPhone 7, due for release on Friday, introduces some uncomfortable transitions.”
The bottom line.
While the reviews range from hesitantly positive and estastically proclaiming the iPhone 7 is a glimpse of the bright future ahead for all of us, the base temperature seems to be one of “It’s a new iPhone, you’ll probably miss the headphone jack, but the battery and improved camera make up for it.” (There’s also the fact that a lot of the more vaunted features, like the bokeh effect for the iPhone 7 Plus camera, won’t hit until a software upgrade at some point in October.)
The sense I get, after reading through the morning’s reviews, is if you’re limping along on an old iPhone 5, make the upgrade. If you’re on an iPhone 6s and don’t care about the latest and greatest, maybe wait until 2017 and see what Apple has in store next.