Let’s get to know the iPhone 7.
iPhone 7 UK release date, price, specs: iPhone 7 launches!
Apple unveiled the new iPhone 7 at its 7 September launch event tonight. The iPhone 7 has IP67 water- and dust-proofing, a faster 12MP, f/1.8 rear-facing camera and 7Mp front-facing camera (up from 5Mp on the iPhone 6s), new colour finishes – Jet Black and (matt) Black, replacing the old Space Grey – and much more.
At the launch event, Apple focused on 10 key elements of the iPhone 7 that it’s particularly proud of – much as it did when introducing iOS 10 this summer. For the time being we might as well follow Apple’s format, so we’ll update this article one section at a time – stay tuned for future updates.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 1. Design
The iPhone 7 looks broadly similar to the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6 before it, but there are some key differences. As expected (indeed, most of the announcements I’m going to talk about were leaked ahead of the event), the antenna has been redesigned to fit inside the enclosure: in his traditional video, Jonathan Ive said the design “essentially makes it disappear”. This gives the phone smoother lines and less cluttered design – something that is also helped by the controversial loss of the 3.5mm headphone jack… but we’ll come to that later.
There are now five colour options: silver, gold and Rose Gold as before, but Space Grey is replaced by two new black finishes – a gloss Jet Black, and a matt black (that’s just “black” – that’s the name of it). Jet Black is sort of more expensive than the other options, in the sense that you can only get it if you go for the middle or top storage option.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 2. Home button
This was somewhat expected. Apple has redesigned the Home button on the front of the iPhone: it’s now force-sensitive and static-state.
In other words, the Home button doesn’t click inwards/downwards when you press it. Like the trackpad on the more recent generations of MacBook, it gives the illusion of a ‘click’ downwards by transmitting a little vibration from a tactic engine.
Apple didn’t talk too much about the possibilities of this feature, but on the MacBooks the Force Touch trackpads are able to produce multiple degrees of force pressure, for a normal press and a deeper, harder press for bringing up secondary functions such as dictionary lookups. It can also make the component less likely to break because it’s not a moving part, although the tactic engine will draw a (tiny) amount of power.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 3. Water resistance
Apple consistently referred to the iPhone 7 as “water-resistant” rather than “waterproof”. But it’s certified at a respectable IP rating of IP67 – and Apple doesn’t normally go in for that kind of thing.
An IP rating refers to a device’s ability to resist solid (the first digit, from 1 to 6) and liquid (the second digit, from 1 to 8) intrusions. So IP67 is one step below the top rating. It means the iPhone 7 is rated as Dust Tight – “No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact” and resistant to liquid immersion up to 1m for up to 30 minutes – “Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion)”.
There are plenty of smartphones out there that are rated with the perfect IP68, however. One such is the Samsung Galaxy S7.
More information on IP ratings can be found here.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 4. Cameras
First of all, the bad news. The iPhone 7 doesn’t get the glamorous twin-lens rear camera that you’ll see on the iPhone 7. But it does have a fair few other camera enhancements.
There are two single-lens cameras, then. The rear-facing camera is still 12 megapixels (Mp), but it has a f/1.8 sensor, compared to the f/2.2 on the iPhone 6s – that should mean improved low-light photography – and a six-element lens. It’s also quicker than the cameras on previous iPhones (60 percent faster than the iPhone 6s, and 30 percent more energy-efficient, Apple claims), and able to do all of its computational trickery in 25ms.
Optical image stabilisation is now standard across the board, too – in the last generation it was only available on the iPhone 6s Plus.
The front-facing camera, meanwhile, does get a specs boost: from 5Mp on the iPhone 6s to 7Mp.
This is only skimming the surface of the photographic improvements that Apple was keen to talk about, and the proof will be in the shooting. We’ll update this article with our thoughts on the updated cameras once we’ve had a chance to try them out in real-world conditions.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 5. Display
While the screen size, resolution and pixel density are the same (4.7 inches, 1334 × 750 pixels and 326 pixels per inch, respectively), there are a number of improvements to the display on the iPhone 7. Apple says it’s 25 percent brighter than the previous generation, with a wide colour gamut and improved colour management.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 6. Audio
At one time it was thought that Apple was going to remove the headphone port (we’re getting there, we’re getting there – it’s point number 7, okay?) in order to squeeze in a second speaker at the bottom of the iPhone. Which might have increased the volume output, but wouldn’t have produced a stereo effect worth a damn because the speaker units would have been too close together.
What was later rumoured, and has come to pass, is rather cleverer. Apple has upgraded the phone receiver at the top of the device – the one you listen to when talking – into a proper speaker unit with the same power as the one at the bottom of the phone. This means that, when you’re not talking on the phone, you can be listening to music, with the device in landscape orientation, in stereo. The two speakers are far enough apart to produce a worthwhile stereo effect. And it’s still twice the volume, and (according to Apple), offers increased dynamic range.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 7. Earpods
Or, “7. No headphone port”, as most of us will have heard it. Or, “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.”
So this is the big one. The iPhone 7 does not have a headphone port, and the rumours are true. But Apple did its best to sugar the pill by talking about some legitimately nice-looking and impressive-sounding headphones and headphone tech it’s been working on.
The iPhone 7 will be bundled with a new pair of EarPods: these connect via Lightning. It will also be bundled with a Lightning-to-mini phono adaptor, so you’ll be able to use any and all current headphones that use a 3.5mm jack, with the iPhone 7. The prospect of carrying around an adaptor with our phones is mildly irritating, but at least Apple isn’t charging extra for it, like it did with the USB-C adaptor for the port-poor 12-inch MacBook.
Why is Apple removing the headphone port, by the way? One word, said Apple: courage. (Pretty bold way of dressing up an unpopular move!) But the company argued that Lightning is a good efficient audio connection standard with a large base of users and accessories. (This is slightly disingenuous – there may well be 900 million Lightning connector devices out there, but nearly all of those will be speakers, not headphones. Lightning headphones remain thin on the ground – although that’s sure to change now.) The company also said that the headphone port is more than a hundred years old and taking up space that is needed for other features.
Apple also talked about some interesting wireless headphones it’s got up its sleeve, which leads us on to the next section.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 8. Wireless
Apple unveiled a new line of wireless headphones it’s working on. They won’t be launched alongside the iPhone 7, however: they’re coming in late October.
Apple’s new AirPods are individual wireless headphones, an entirely separate unit for each ear. (Apple suggested that you might like to wear either both together, for listening to music, or just one, for use as a Siri mic.) They’re white, and minimalist, and rather beautiful.
And clever. They use infrared sensors to detect when they’re in your ear, and only output audio at those times. They’re designed to connect to any and all Apple devices with just one tap. And talking of tapping, you can do a double-tap on the headphone itself to activate Siri.
Battery life, Apple says, is good for 5 hours of listening from a single charge.
Read next: Best Bluetooth headphones
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 9. Apple Pay
Apple Pay is launching in Japan, and the iPhone 7 units sold in Japan will use a different NFC-type tech, called Felica, which is popular in that country. Apple is also launching Apple Maps in Japan.
To be honest this one isn’t all that exciting if you don’t live in Japan.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: 10. Performance
But here’s a bigger one to finish up. The iPhone 7 features an A10 ‘Fusion’ processor, which is 64bit, quad-core for the first time on an iPhone, and has 3.3 billion transistors. Apple claims this is “the most powerful chip ever in a smartphone”.
It could be unusually energy-efficient too. Partly because of the usual optimisation Apple is able to achieve between hardware and software, since it makes both. But also because two of the cores in the A10 Fusion chip are designed to use less power – 1/5th of the power, in fact – than the others. This enables the iPhone 7 to run more energy-efficiently when handling less demanding tasks, which can be fobbed off on the lower-power cores, the whole setup organised by an Apple-designed performance controller.
We look forward to trying this out and testing the iPhone 7 in our rigorous lab speed tests. But on paper it sounds great. Apple says the A10 is 40 percent faster than the A9 in the iPhone 6s, and twice as fast as the A8. It’s an astounding 120 times faster than the original iPhone (although this is of course a reflection of the breakneck speed of processor development in general as much as it is on the particular abilities of Apple’s engineering teams and component partners).
Graphically the A10 appears to be a monster too: Apple reckons its 240 times as fast at graphical processor as the chip in the original iPhone.
These various virtues and abilities add up, according to Apple, to console-level gaming and the longest battery life ever on an iPhone: the company reckons you’ll get an average of two hours more from the iPhone 7 than you would have got from the iPhone 6s. We look forward to finding out if those things are true.
Read next: Best iPhone games
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: UK price
The iPhone 7 is available in five colours: silver, gold, Rose gold, black and Jet Black. With the exception of Jet Black (which is only available for the more expensive 128GB and 256GB storage options) these are each available with 32GB, 128GB and 256GB of storage.
UK prices start at £599 for the 32GB models.
iPhone 7 release date, price & specs: UK release date, pre-orders and shipping dates
The iPhone 7 was announced tonight, 7 September. Pre-orders start on 9 September, and the iPhone 7 units will start shipping on 16 September in 30 countries (including the UK). Another 30 countries will follow a week later.
iPhone 7 launch event: iPhone 7 launch liveblog – all the iPhone 7 announcements as they happened
Apple announced the iPhone 7, and a number of other products and projects, at a press event tonight. If you missed the event, you can catch up by reading our liveblog, embedded below. It has all the news and announcements from the iPhone 7 launch event, plus our thoughts and reactions on the news.