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Every time Apple releases a new iPhone (or any product for that matter), it looks like the world is split into just two kinds of people – the fanboys, and the rest of the world. If you’ve not followed the iPhone 7 launch, just head over to Twitter and see what we’re talking about. Fanboys are going gaga about the new features, techies are busy dissecting the phone for every smallest details, and the non-fanboys and skeptics, however, are busy pointing out that this is “just another incremental update”. There’s love and hate all over Twitter right now, for the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.
But are the new features really just gimmicks, or do they actually mean something else in the big picture?
RIP, Uncle Jack?
The removal of the 3.5mm audio jack has sent the whole world into a tizzy. There are many who are complaining about how the removal of the 3.5mm port will render their high-end headphones redundant. Trust us, you won’t have to bin your old headphones if you buy the iPhone 7. You can just get the Lightning to 3.5mm converter and you’re good to go. Manufacturers like LeEco and Motorola have also ditched the audio port for a USB Type-C to 3.5mm conversion accessory. But that’s just our little problem.
We just cannot ignore the fact that ear/headphones using Lightning ports will definitely get way better audio quality than their analogue simpleton cousins. It also means a whole lot for the accessory market. While there are a few Lightning-only options available in the market already, the removal of the 3.5mm port will definitely bring about a slew of new, better sounding products in the market.
Case in point – The JBL Reflect Aware Sport earphones are already available in the market with active noise cancelling, and they don’t need bulky battery modules dangling around because the power for the noise cancellation is directly fed by the Lightning port. The point here is that because of this move, noise cancellation headphones (at least the wired ones) can become a lot less expensive and definitely less bulky. Who knows, someone might even be able to use the device’s on-board microphones and make simple earphones into noise-cancelling ones. A lot is possible with digital audio ports.
However, there’s a slight glitch – there’s only one Lightning port on the iPhones, and battery life has never been the best thing about iPhones anyway. Unless someone comes up with some kind of Lightning splitter, you would either run out of charge very quickly or have to charge your phones in silence. This will also render a lot of battery cases useless if their input port isn’t Lightning.
And that brings us to Bluetooth. Amidst all these arguments, it looks like the best bet for audiophiles would be via Bluetooth. Maybe, just maybe, manufacturers who love the MFi tag would take battery lives on their accessories seriously.
The camera battle is a tough one, what with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge surprising us with its superior image quality, and Huawei delivering a double whammy with those two lenses on the P9. But we’ve got to accept that iPhones have done a lot for the imaging world recently. Filmmakers have started using iPhones as a primary camera, and with the advent of superior slo-mo features on the iPhone 6s Plus, many photographers and filmmakers have started producing really brilliant pieces of work.
Yes, there are arguments on why anyone would spend so much money only for a camera – to put things in perspective, if you were to buy just a camera with those features, it would have cost a little more than the iPhone (we’re talking about cameras with 4K, and 1080p @ 120fps, optical image stabilisation etc.). Also, you get to edit your videos right on the device that you’re using for shooting. Plus, with the addition of the A10 Fusion chip, creative individuals can edit faster on the go.
The dual camera setup on the iPhone 7 Plus isn’t something that we haven’t seen, but is definitely a welcome addition. With the depth-of-field tricks coming to the device with an update “sometime soon”, we can see a lot of amateurs and even pros toting iPhones on gimbals to capture some seriously beautiful footage.
However, better imaging can also be a double-edged sword. Apple says that it has a 60% faster sensor, and with two sensors on the 7 Plus, this can again translate into massive battery drain. Better pictures can also mean larger file sizes – let’s wait and see if the new 32GB base variant would be good enough for shutter-happy users.
There are, however, other features, that are truly lackluster. In fact, these are the features that Apple had to throw in to keep up with the competition. Water and dust resistance is becoming quite standard now, across price segments. Also, stereo speakers aren’t exactly features that needed to be talked about. Everyone’s got them.
The best announcement, however, didn’t come from the iPhone segment – it was about the Watch Series 2. Integrating Pokémon Go into the Watch, and subsequently into the activity tracking system, essentially translates into users having more fun while getting some exercise. Maybe Apple did take note of the memes on Pokémon Go users losing a lot of weight.