Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus – First Impressions – incl audio, camera and that new home button

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The Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus went on sale officially this morning at 8am.

This year Apple has prevented walk-ins and opted for pre order online or reservations for pickup in a store. My local Apple Store in Plymouth opened a lot earlier than normal and allowed people to browse as well as collect their reservations.

Whilst my order won’t arrive for another for days, the calmness inside the Apple store was a far superior experience than the normal chaotic launches. The staff were able to spend the correct amount of time helping customers setup their new iPhone and run through all of the new features. Other staff were also on hand to help you with any product knowledge.

What was missing from the iPhone 7 counter was the iPhone 7 Plus in either black or jet black. However, the finishes were available in the smaller size iPhone 7. If I am being brutally honest, I cannot see any point in getting the jet black over black. Once a case is fitted to the back, it is impossible to tell the two apart and as the jet black is more prone to micro abrasions it makes more sense to go for the standard black. Also, both blacks will show fingerprints as well, although the jet black attracts fingerprints much faster. Both black colours disguise the antenna lines better than any of the other colours available.

Now what about the new home button. I honestly don’t understand what the fuss is about. It just works and I was not bothered about the way it now worked nor did I have any issue with its operation. The taptic feedback system works really well for me.

The screen. Both iPhone 7 screens look good but they are not as good as those from the Samsung Note 7.

Performance. Testing the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is a joy. iOS 10 and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are so fluid and fast to use, but we all knew that anyway.

Now to the audio. I tested the loudspeaker with BBC Radio 4 for spoken voice and Beats 1 radio station for music. The loudspeaker is louder than previous but it is not as good as having traditional speakers integrated into the front of a smartphone. Next I paired by B & O Beoplay H5’s Bluetooth Wireless headphones and listened to a number of different genres. The iPhone 7 bluetooth audio is excellent, so are the B & O Beoplay H5’s headphones and I doubt whether Apple’s Airpods would sound better, although the AirPods are wirefree.

The camera. It works as advertised. The standard iPhone 7 now takes fabulous photos and the 7 Plus with the telephoto lens is equally as impressive. The telephoto lens does not have OIS though. The optical 2 x zoom really worked very well. However, software zoom introduced too much noise for my liking. Obviously, the lighting inside the Apple store is dreadful, but nonetheless it still is a test of what the camera can achieve. I used the telephoto lens for panaroma shots too. I noticed the phone needed me to slow down panning more when using the telephoto lens over the normal 12mp lens. I then tried burst shots of people walking inside the store, with and without the telephoto lens. None were really crispy sharp like those I took on the Samsung S7 or Note 7. I need to re-test the burst operation is better lighting to see how it performs before I pass judgement properly, but early testing seems to show that the fast focus system on the Note 7 and S7 really is king. However, the iPhone 7 offers many other options on the camera which need testing as mentioned. The camera did freeze on me too which was resolved by restarting the camera app.

Anyway, this is my first impression of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I intend to cover off a lot more over the next few weeks.

If you have received your new iPhone, do add a comment below on your experience so far.

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