So, is the Apple iPhone 7 Plus the best smartphone you can buy? Given the hype and expectation, you would want to think so. Also, given the fact that this year Android’s biggest bet to take on the Apple flagship, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, has pulled out of the game adds to the weight on iPhone 7 Plus’ shoulders. But is the iPhone 7 Plus really all that great? In this review, we try and answer the questions you would have before buying this flagship phone.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Apple launched two new phones in its iPhone 7 series. The iPhone 7 is an upgrade on the iPhone 6s, while the iPhone 7 Plus will replace the iPhone 6s Plus and is a larger, more capable phone. While the processing power of the two iPhone 7 devices is the same, the iPhone 7 Plus offers a much better camera with a dual lens combo, clearly the USP of this phone. It also brings in a new glossy jet black variant which has already become very popular, despite its tendency to attract scratches as well as fingerprints. The phone does not have a 3.5mm jack for audio, and this space has been used to add a Taptic Engine inside and an extra speaker outside, which makes this one of the loudest and best sounding smartphones now.
Specifications of the iPhone 7 Plus: 5.5-inch 1920×1080-pixel resolution (401 ppi) with 3D Touch | A-10 Fusion quad-core processor | 3GB RAM + 256GB Storage | 12MP +12MP camera with f/1.8 and OIS + 7MP front camera | 2900 mAh battery | iOS 10
Price: Rs 72,000 onwards for 32GB
What is the best feature of the phone?
This has to be the camera of the iPhone 7 Plus. During testing iPhone 7 felt more like an incremental update because it didn’t have the one feature that was spectacular. iPhone 7 Plus has no such issues. The dual lens combo at the rear — the camera has a wide as well as a telephoto lens — uses some smart software to give you amazing images. And the f1.8 aperture makes this one of the best performing smartphone cameras in low light.
We noticed during testing that in a dark room the camera acted as if it had a light source of its own. Despite low light, the camera can still capture some amazing detail while keeping noise to the minimum. The telephoto bit of the camera gives you optical zoom of up to 2x which is without any noise at all. The digital zoom lets you take this up to 10x using a really fast virtual dial. However, there is a bit of noise to be encountered at the extreme end of this zoom. The zoom and low-light capabilities are translated equally well when you shoot 4K video making this a great handycam replacement.
Is this the most powerful smartphone?
The new iPhone series uses the A10 Fusion chip from Apple. For those who take benchmarks seriously, this phone can have any Android phone on the mat when it comes to scores. However, it all boils down to user experience and the iPhone 7 Plus can really awe with the processing power. I could feel a significant difference having moved to this review unit from a iPhone 6s Plus.
Apps open faster, switching between running apps is also swifter. There is a significant boost when you play resource intensive games, and the graphics also shine through much better and are richer with more detail. Also, the Taptic Engine is bringing in some good value by adding a new dimension to games and apps in form of physical feedback across the phone. With some games like Zombie Gunship you feel this more and gradually get addicted to it too.
Has the battery life improved?
The A10 Fusion processor is a mix of two high efficiency cores and two that are high resource. So the battery of the new phone lasts much better, especially in comparison to a year-old 6s Plus. With intense use on 4G, shooting video and photos, the phone can easily last 12 hours. However, Apple devices start dropping battery life with time and be prepared to see a 25 per cent drop by end of the year.
Are there any issues?
We could not notice any major issues. However, there is one quirk we noticed. The camera at times takes long to be ready to click. This lag is often long enough for you to take a screenshot. I guess Apple will need to update the app to fix this. Also, the best feature of the camera is still not available to regular users, although those in public beta can get it. The portrait mode, which uses the two cameras to create a bokeh effect, will be available only later this year.
A lot of people have been unhappy with Apple dropping the 3.5mm jack in favour of the Lightning cable, which will now be used for audio too. This is not such a big issue as Apple is offering a lightning headphone in the box as well as an adapter in case you are stuck with an expensive headphone which you just cannot let go of. But yes, there is a bit of an issue if you have to listen to music while the phone is being charged as I felt during a week in which I had to travel a lot. We can just hope that Apple’s extensive third-party ecosystem will kick in and come up with a fix soon.
Should you buy?
If you are looking for a top-end smartphone that really caters to all your needs, then this is the phone for this year. However, if you are already on the iPhone 6s series, this jump makes sense only if you are a hooked to smartphone photography big time. Also, it is better to buy at least the 128GB version as this extra storage has become relatively cheaper now. Whichever way you look at it, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus is the best phone you can buy at the moment. But it is not for everyone and is a premium device in every sense.