The iPhone 7 pipeline may not be full, but product is moving rapidly from China to stores around the world. New York is a good place to be if you want the latest and greatest and don’t mind a few lines. It’s been nearly a week since I picked up my iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 10, and these are my first impressions.
Hardware – iPhone 7 looks and feels much like iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s but there are notable differences. In design circles this is much like a Rolex or Lexus or almost any other product that has a distinct design esthetic. You can tell the brand by how it looks. Ignore critics who say iPhone 7 is nothing new because they don’t understand true design.
What’s the same as last year? Not much. Screen resolution. Case design is similar. That’s about it. Everything else inside is different. Again. The screen is the best LCD display ever tested and as one reviewer said, ‘indistinguishable from perfect.’ High praise. The A10 Fusion CPU smokes Android competitors. There is more storage, more RAM, more battery, and a massively improved camera with dual cameras, a wider angle lens, an actual zoom, improved everywhere, including low light. All mashed up in what is becoming an iconic and timeless design.
Software – iOS 10 brings a few massive changes, but looks and feels much the same. The major visible changes are the Lock and Home screen and its blend with Notification Center; plus animated stickers and apps for Messages. That’s not all, of course, but those are the ones you run into initially.
iOS 10 has a camera magnifying option which turns the camera into a magnifying glass. Triple-click the Home button and you get a zoom slider. Control Center still pops up from the bottom but there’s no much to control these days that there are two window panes. If you want to get rid of an Apple app, such as Mail or Maps or whatever, you can do that in iOS 10. It’s not actually deleted so you can get it back.
Widgets can go on the Lock screen and there’s so much functionality up front now that many iPhone users may not need to drill down to a specific app. Interestingly, the keyboard clicking sound is softer now. I really like the Raise To Wake function. Raise the iPhone up and the screen comes up, too. Swipe right and get Notifications, swipe left and get Camera. The single tap option to clear all notifications is a time saver.
Siri has improved again and now works with both Apple’s iPhone apps and third party apps. We’ll need to wait awhile to see more of that functionality. Mail has a feature to scan messages for possible Events to be added to Calendar. Maps helps you find your car after you’ve parked it and gone shopping.
RAW shooting and editing might be a combination of hardware and software but RAW is there and available for third party apps, too, on iPad Pro, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but not older iPhones. iCloud Drive is present, of course, and a similar feature on macOS Sierra means you can put your Documents folder into iCloud. Frankly, I don’t trust iCloud with that much data yet.
As is usual with a new upgrade to iOS, a few apps become orphaned and don’t work. Apple plans to prune the iTunes App Store of older apps that haven’t been upgraded to take advantage of iOS 10, and that likely means no more bragging from Apple about how many apps are available on the Store. One of the neatest updates is VoIP app integration which means apps get the same Lock screen and in-call experience as FaceTime and cell phone calls.
Frankly, there are hundreds of tweaks to improvements to iOS 10 that dwarf even the number of hardware changes in iPhone 7, so if anyone tells you Apple’s newest phone is same old, same old, ignore them, and consider associating with someone who has better analytic skills.