Yesterday, after much hype, expectation, and a fair amount of crystal ball-gazing, Apple unveiled what they claim to be the most simple and most shiny (seriously) iPhone ever. In the words of Apple's head of design, Jonny Ive, the iPhone 7 is the most "evolved" version of the device.
After hearing a slew of rumors—from a bendable phone to the destruction of the headphone jack—here, finally, are the standout features of Apple's latest iPhone.
Introducing Jet Black and, um...Just Black?
There's a new finish called "jet black," which comes with a high-gloss finish, and a seamless surface between the glass and the body. There is also just simply "black," which appears to be matte, and the old favorites of "gold," "silver," and "rose gold" remain.
There's No Button Like Home
The home button is no longer an old-fashioned button. It now uses force touch capacity and taptic feedback (meaning, it buzzes lightly), and can be programmed by 3rd party applications. There is no more pressing required; the whole thing is digital.
Take It for A Dip (Kind of)
Please note: water resistant does not mean waterproof—but it does mean that if you spill your coffee and don't snatch your phone off the table in time, you won't end up with a brick.
A Very, Very Serious Camera
The iPhone's new camera has a significantly wider aperture, letting 50% more light onto the sensor. Each camera also comes equipped with image-stabilization, as well as a 12-megapixel sensor claiming to be 60% faster and 30% more energy-efficient. And, of course, there's that true tone flash along with a "flicker sensor" which can sense artificial light in an even more effective way. The camera now uses machine learning to sense images, adjust color, set whites, reduce noise, and even fuse shots together to create richer imagery.
For selfies, there is a 7-megapixel FaceTime camera, which is a sizable step up from the 5-megapixel, front-facing camera on the current model. The iPhone 7 Plus will also include a second camera—the wide-angle 28mm (like the regular iPhone)—plus a new a telephoto lens at 56mm, which means you will now have access to a truly badass optical zoom.
When Apple Meets Instagram
The HD retina display means a 25% brighter screen deemed to be "cinema standard." Apple also worked with Instagram. In order to take advantage of the "wide gamut" of hues available, the app will be unrolling more bright filters (no more dusty analog images!) to harness the full depth of colors.
Finally, No More Tinny Speakers—and You Get To Keep Your Headphones!
For the first time, iPhone has stereo speakers with an increased dynamic range for game-playing and chatting on FaceTime. But here's the real doozy: Apple has moved its headphones into lightning jacks, pointing out that lightning (the same input we use to charge the iPhone) was originally designed to carry digital audio. However, not all is lost: There will be a lightning-to-audio jack connector that will come with every new iPhone, so you don't have to redo your entire stereo set-up.
No, Wait, You Don't
Oh, well, we knew this was coming. When Apple first purchased Beats by Dre, all the pundits assumed they were subsequently going to dive into the headphone space. And so the AirPods are born: headphones that basically look like the classic Apple earbuds, only with the wires hacked off. The AirPods promise to be touch-sensitive and ready for use across all your Apple products, and include a microphone. No buttons, no switching, no pairing—this is not Bluetooth. (As such, they are rechargeable, meaning you'll also need to charge your AirPods.) For what it's worth, Beats also has its own line coming out based on Apple's technology, so you will have options.
That Big Battery Question
This new iPhone promises to be the most battery-efficient ever, with four cores: Two running on "high-performance" (read: battery-sucking), and two running at two-thirds of the speed (read: battery-saving). This means that checking your email won't use up your battery, no matter how many emojis you send. And when it comes to iPhone gaming, your experience could be more beautiful and immersive than ever. If you choose to make the switch from iPhone 6 to iPhone 7, you may find yourself with nearly two hours of extra battery life.
So, Should You Get It?
Do you game on your phone? Regularly find your battery on the brink of death? Do you love using the advanced photography features on your phone, or using it to shoot video? If so, then yes, the iPhone 7 seems like a reasonable upgrade for you, especially since it costs the same as the 6S: $649. For those who truly love shooting video and stills, the 7 Plus may even be worth the extra hundred bucks for that second camera. (If you are sold, orders start on September 9, with phones shipping on September 16.)
Now, back to that whole headphone jack situation: With Apple doing its part to usher out the era of the traditional headphone jack, expect to see other tech companies following suit. Sticking with your older iPhone will merely postpone—but not prevent—your new relationship with the lightning port. (However, at $159, the AirBuds do already feel slightly prohibitive.) The whole world, Apple included, will be waiting to see how the headphone saga unfolds.