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


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.

WWDC, iOS 8, OS X Yosemite and more juicy bits on the new iPhone

Last night Apple kicked off WWDC with its usual keynote speech. I thought it was a well polished affair, and everyone including Tim Cook seemed fired up and energised.

So in September when the new iPhone and other Apple hardware lands we will have the following new features –

1) Third Party Keyboards and a new Apple keyboard with word prediction. Plus the keyboard is enhanced for the blind with a braille version.

2) A tighter eco system with iCloud Drive (goodbye Dropbox), iMessage improvements(calls, iMessage and even normal SMS’s can be done on any Apple device from iPad, iPhone or Mac, adios WhatsApp), Phone Calls can be answered on your Mac, iPad or iPhone or made from any device. Apple also introduced features for group messaging from do not disturb, viewing message photos on one page and more.

3) Start typing a message on your iPad or iPhone or Mac and continue it on something else. Apple called this Handoff. You could be doing others things too and continue on a different device. AirDrop will now work between mac and iPad and iPhone.

4) Apple’s Health and Home Automation Frameworks got announced and look very promising.

5) 4,000 new developer API’s. New coding language called Swift. And Metal.

6) WiFi calling is now allowed and FaceTime call waiting

7) Battery usage stats per app – finally

8) New camera APIs and a photo kit allowing developers access to the camera settings like exposure and separate focus, camera timer, pano mode for iPad, instant burst mode for camera and time lapse mode.

9) Shazam with Siri, Purchase iTunes content with Siri

10) Auto night mode for iBooks, Rich text editing in Notes

11) In Case of Emergency card

12) Multi Usage support

13) Widgets in the notification centre

14) OS X Yosemite – redesigned like iOS, better functional mail app, improved spotlight, safari, mail drop, iCloud Drive, iPhoto being updated

15) iOS Photo app – better editing and integration with other photo editing apps without leaving the camera roll.

16) Appstore overhaul – videos, group buy deals of dev apps and so much more. Family share has arrived. Using one card and up to 6 family members, if your child went to buy an in app purchase a message would appear saying have you obtained permission , and at the same time , the adult would get a message asking to authorise purchase. Neat. Plus families were able to create and share photos and calendars.

17) iOS 8 apps can share data with each other – finally

18) Touch ID opens up to developers – this is huge

19) Lower cost cloud storage plans

20) iOS Notification centre offers quick replies and actionable items

21) iOS 8 gets spotlight search


Clearly the next batch of Apple hardware releases are going to be excellent. All of the above will drive better hardware sales as well. Lets hope the battery tech keeps up with all the demands of the modern operating system.

It also looks like Apple have come back fighting from the death of Steve Jobs, in a more energised, aggressive way and opening up the platform to allow better sharing and third party keyboards. The only thing it did not allow was to set default apps for a particular task eg web browser.

Roll on September 2014 and the new iPhone – hang on a second, Foxconn just made an announcement –

“5.5 and 4.7 inch iPhone will be manufactured by Foxconn in 2014

MUMBAI, India – June 2, 2014

Foxconn, world’s leading manufacturer of computer components and systems, is going to manufacture both 5.5-inch and 4.7-inch iPhone in 2014.

According the sources, Foxconn will supply 70% of the 4.7-inch iPhone shipments for 2015. The 4- and 4.7-inch iPhones will be the main sales force of Apple for 2014. Foxconn’s plants in Zhengzhou, China are expected to start supplying the 4.7-inch model in July and start manufacturing the 5.5-inch one in August.”

So true or false ?