Is it worth the upgrade? iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6s
It’s a given that the iPhone 7 is best iPhone ever made. The question, if you've already got an iPhone 6s, is it really worth the upgrade?
Here we take you through all the new features in the iPhone 7 and compare them with the 6s, so you can decide for yourself.
From the outside at least, the iPhone 7 looks a lot like the iPhone 6s before it, but if you look closer, you'll notice a few minor changes. This time round, Apple has removed the antennae lines from the rear of the iPhone, and eagle-eyed users will also notice the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack – but we'll get to that later. There are two new finishes for the iPhone 7 (a glossy Jet Black and matt Black) and the iPhone 6s' Space Grey finish has gone. And one more thing, if you're after a Jet Black iPhone 7, you'll need to get it in 128GB or 256GB – Apple isn't planning on releasing a 32GB version of the new finish.
The iPhone 7 might use a 12MP camera – just like the iPhone 6s – but Apple has introduced one or two changes that make it a better snapper overall. There’s now optical image stabilisation (OIS), where previously this had restricted to the Plus version. There’s also a beefed-up image signal processor (ISP) to provide better noise reduction and speedier high-dynamic-range (HDR) processing. A brighter f/1.8 aperture, which lets 50% more light onto the sensor, six-element lens and quad-LED flash top things off nicely.
In our low-light tests, images were typically captured at lower ISO sensitivity and lower shutter speeds, resulting in cleaner, brighter, more colourful images than the iPhone 6s – not perfect in some instances, but generally better.
Is it enough to warrant an upgrade? That’s a moot point but improvement to the FaceTime HD camera – which has jumped from 5MP to 7MP – might be enough to swing it.
Although some will see it as a step backwards, Apple has removed the 3.5mm headphone socket from the iPhone 7. Whatever the reason behind the omission, Apple is at least shipping ever iPhone with a Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor, but you won't be able to charge and listen at the same time without purchasing a special adapter or wireless headphones. That is a pain. On the plus side, the iPhone 7 now has stereo speakers, which sound better than the iPhone 6s’ mono speaker, with a little more volume, body and presence.
Apple has also removed the physical home button from the iPhone 7, replacing it with a Force Touch button capable of. It’s fair to say this change is more successful than the removal of the headphone jack, because it works beautifully. It’s one less mechanical potential point of failure and it feels uncannily like a real button when you push down on it, thanks to Apple’s haptic feedback technology.
Several sources noted the iPhone 6s was more water-resistant than previous models, but the iPhone 7 makes it official with IP67 certification. That means it’s rated to last half an hour in up to metre of water, though it’s probably best to avoid testing this as Apple still doesn't cover water damage in the iPhone 7's warranty.
Performance and battery life
One of the biggest upgrades is inside the phone. The iPhone 7 packs Apple’s new A10 Fusion processor, which has four cores, with two high-performance units handling the computing intensive tasks and the other two taking care of lighter loads to provide better battery life.
And the processor lives up to its hype. Our tests show the iPhone 7 outperforms its forebear by a very significant margin, and it lasted 13 hours 2 minutes in our video rundown battery test – two hours longer the iPhone 6.
In the face of it, not much has changed with the display: The iPhone 7 still has a 4.7in Retina screen with a resolution of 750 x 1334 pixels. However, Apple has given the screen a significantly wider colour gamut and it’s around 25% brighter than the iPhone 6s screen – and as a result, the new display is more colourful, more vibrant and more immediately engaging.
It’s good news for those who are struggling with an entry-level iPhone 6s – Apple has ditched the 16GB model. The 64GB handset has gone too, but overall Apple is offering a far better range of storage options: 32GB, 128GB and 256GB. There’s still no microSD slot for expanding storage, however.
The iPhone 7 might look a lot like the iPhone 6s, but in truth it offers a collection of small changes and refinements over the previous handset. In isolation, each of those changes is pretty unremarkable, but combined they make a smartphone that's a solid step up from the iPhone 6s. If you've got an iPhone 6s – and particularly if you got a 16GB model -- features like the iPhone 7's water-resistance, faster speeds, better battery life and more storage will have a noticeable effect on your day to day routine – and if you've got an iPhone 6 then the difference could be night and day.