The iPhone 7 is here! Apple's product unveiling event has concluded and we finally now have a clearer picture of what these newest models are capable of. Based on the rumors and leaks we've gathered, they're all that we've expected them to be.
They're faster, shinier versions of their predecessors with one long-standing feature saying goodbye and a potentially game-changing feature added to the Plus model.
We also caught a glimpse of the new Apple Watch Series 2 with all the upgrades it has over its previous version. We were actually expecting more out of this second version of the Apple Watch, but the upgrades are incremental - still no camera nor FaceTime capabilities.
Sorry. Better shelve those Dick Tracy fantasies for now.
(Missed our live coverage? For a replay of our live viewing party of the Apple announcements so you can see exactly what happened, click here. For our live blog detailing all the announcements, visit this page.)
Now the two big burning questions:
- Is it worth upgrading from the iPhone 6s or the even older iPhone 6?
- How about for Apple Watch owners, will it be a good time to ditch the older model for the newer version?
Of course, the answers boil down to personal choice and budgets, but we will try and break down the reasons why you should or should not upgrade. Read on and we'll help you decide if it's worth spending the money.
Is the Apple Watch Series 2 worth it?
The new Apple Watch Series 2 will feature a faster dual-core processor, a 50 percent brighter screen, improved waterproofing and built-in GPS radios.
The older Apple Watch line, rebranded as Series 1, will be updated with the newer dual-core processor but that's about it.
Apple Watch Series 2 will start at $369 for the base aluminum 38mm Sports edition while the cheapest Series 1 price will be reduced to $269. (Note: The original Apple Watch 38mm Sports Edition was released at $349.)
First up, if you don't own an Apple Watch yet and you are planning on getting one, just go for the Series 2 instead of the Series 1. I think the upgrades of the Series 2 over the cheaper model are worth the $100 premium.
If you are an owner of the generation Apple Watch and you are happy using it for what it does best - notifications, Apple Pay, and handsfree texting and calling, then it may not be worth shelling out for an upgrade to either Series 1 or 2. There are no major cosmetic changes and for these basic functions, your old Apple Watch should hold up even with the older processor.
However, if you are really into outdoor fitness activities like hiking, running, and swimming, it may be worth the switch. The built-in GPS radios and the brighter screen suitable for outdoor viewing will be worthwhile additions for such workout activities. For swimmers, the waterproofing enhancements will make a world of difference for tracking swimming statistics.
Although the faster dual-core processor for both Series 2 and 1 will make WatchOS 3 and apps like the newly-announced Pokemon Go run smoother, only time will tell if the newer OS will bog down the generation one Apple Watch.
So with that said, unless you desperately need swimming tracking, I'd say just hold on to your old Apple Watch.
iPhone 6/6s to iPhone 7?
Now, the other big question. If you are an owner of the older iPhone, is it worth the upgrade?
One compelling new feature of the iPhone 7 Plus model is the dual-lens camera. According to Apple's demonstration, the telephoto and wide-angle lens work together to allow depth-of-field or bokeh (background blurring) effects on photos similar to what DLSRs can do. If you're a photography fan, for this feature alone, I think it's worth the upgrade. Also, the improvement of the camera's zoom due to the addition of a telephoto lens is another new feature to consider.
OIS for the iPhone 7
The smaller iPhone 7 will not have the dual-lens camera like its bigger brother but optical image stabilization (OIS) will finally be introduced. Similar to the iPhone 6/6s Plus cameras, they're basically suspending the lens on shock absorbing springs to reduce jitter and blurring on your camera shots. This is not a must-have feature but it is certainly nice to have. The iPhone 7 will also have a wider 1.8 aperture for better low-light performance.
The front facing camera for both models will be upgraded from 5MP to 7MP.
A10 Fusion Chip
On the CPU and graphic upgrades, the significant improvement of the speed and efficiency of the iPhone 7's A10 Fusion four-core processor is nothing to scoff at. It is said to be 40 percent faster than the iPhone 6s' A9 chip and the graphic chip is 50 percent faster, making it "the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone." The added graphic horsepower will be great for mobile gamers especially now that it was announced that Nintendo is finally making games for iOS.
Amazingly, due to the efficiency of the A10 Fusion chip, even with the performance upgrades, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus battery life will be, on the average, two hours longer than that of the 6s and 6s Plus.
Dust and Water Resistance
Another reason you may want to upgrade is the improved dust and water resistance of the iPhone 7 models due to its sealed design. The water resistance adheres to iP67 standards and it will withstand 30 minutes of water immersion in up to a meter of water.
This may be a pro or con but Apple redesigned the iPhone 7's home button. Gone is the mechanical click and it will be replaced by a flat "button" with "Taptic Engine" feedback similar to the MacBook's trackpad. If you are a fan of the tactile physical click of the old home button, you may not like this change.
No more headphone jack
Now, the biggest polarizing change - Apple's "courageous" decision to eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack. To the dismay of headphone fans everywhere, the iPhone 7 will use the Lightning port for digital sound output. To appease these fans, Apple will graciously provide lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapters with every iPhone 7.
But will this mean we can't charge while listening to music, even with the new lightning port EarPods? Now that's a real downer. I don't want to spend $159 for their wireless AirPods when I have a bunch of audiophile grade headphones that are perfectly fine.
In place of the headphone jack, the iPhone 7 will have an extra speaker for stereo sound. Yipee.
Ready for the iPhone 7?
If you have one of the iPhone 6 models, your two-year cycle is about up so it's about time for an upgrade. You'll appreciate the speed, better battery life and the camera improvements of the iPhone 7.
If you have a 6s model, it's a bit tricky since the rumored complete redesign of the iPhone will hit next year with its 10th anniversary. Maybe it's worth holding off until then.
But like I said, if you're a photography fan and you absolutely love depth-of-field effects, the iPhone 7 Plus is definitely worth a look.
Headphone fans, though, should accept the fact that the headphone jack is probably gone from iPhones forever. Prepare to use wireless headphones or adapters from now on.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will start this Friday, September 9. It will be released on September 16.
Both models will have 32GB, 128GB and 256GB options.
The iPhone 7 starts at $649. Colors available: Rose Gold, Gold, Silver, Black and Jet Black (for the 128GB and 256GB models only).