At its Apple Keynote event on September 7, Apple unveiled the next generation of iPhone. It’s “the best iPhone we’ve ever created,” CEO Tim Cook said on stage.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus comes with 10 major new features, as senior vice president of hardware engineering Phil Schiller put it.
1. Slick new design
The new phone has a high-gloss finish, with seamless lines all around. The camera is more smoothly enclosed and protected.
2. The home button has changed
The home button has changed in a major way: it is no longer a button you click, which is what you’re used to. The home button is now “force-sensitive, solid-state” and runs on a “taptic engine.” It feels more like the trackpad on a laptop. This change was widely rumored ahead of time.
3. Smoother, stronger phone enclosure
The iPhone is now water and dust-resistant. To illustrate, Apple showed a photograph of a kid falling into a pool, holding his iPhone.
4. It’s all about the camera
The camera, Schiller said, “is perhaps the most beloved feature” of iPhone for many customers, and it’s why this part of the phone got more time than any other.
The iPhone 7 camera is a “huge advancement in photography for cell phones,” Schiller said. The new camera has: an optical image stabilizer that steadies shaky hands; a wider, six-element lens to allow more light to the sensor; a 12-megapixel sensor that is 30% more energy-efficient; the flash now has 4 LEDs and puts out 50% more light for taking a photo in dark environments. The new camera also uses machine learning to detect people and faces.
The new camera “can take a beautiful selfie,” Schiller said. “We are not saying to throw out all your DSLRs…. but we are saying this is the best camera ever on any phone.”
5. The retina HD display
The display is 25% brighter than the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and displays cinema standard “wide color gamut” range of colors. To demonstrate the significance of the new color range, Instagram’s head of design Ian Spalter came on stage in a colorful shirt and had someone snap a photo of him, live, and convert it to a GIF-style Instagram boomerang.
6. The speakers are stereo-quality
The new speakers are of much higher quality, with one at top and one at bottom. They have an increased range and, Schiller said, “will really blow you away.”
7. The headphone jack is gone; headphones connect through the USB port
As was rumored, Apple removed the headphone jack, and will connect its earbuds over its lightning USB port. Schiller acknowledged that many people have headphones that connect through a headphone jack, so Apple is offering an adapter.
Removing the headphone jack, Schiller said, really comes down to “courage,” a statement many critics of removing the jack might pick apart.
8. New wireless earbuds: Apple AirBuds
As part of removing the headphone jack, Apple unveiled a completely new product: Airbuds, wireless earbuds that connect using Apple’s W1 chip and can access Siri with a double-tap. “We believe in a wireless future,” design head Jony Ive said in a video. A single step connects Airbuds to iPhone 7 or to Apple Watch 2. Apple AirBuds do not come with the phone; they’ll cost $159.
9. Advances to ApplePay
On the new iPhone 7, ApplePay will work with FeliCa, the NFC technology in Japan; thus Apple can launch ApplePay in Japan in October. The iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and Apple Watch 2 will all have this new version of ApplePay.
10. Better performance all around
Apple’s chip team, Schiller said, “is killing it in performance.” The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus has a new generation chip: A10 Fusion. The new chip is 120 times faster than the chip in the first iPhone, and it is 50% faster than the graphics-loading of the previous A9 chip.
The new chip will enable “console-level gaming” on the iPhone. (Gaming was also a central theme touted on the new Apple Watch.)
“There is absolutely no question,” Schiller said, “A10 Fusion is the fastest chip ever in a smartphone.”
Finally: The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus has the longest battery life yet, Apple says.
The iPhone 7 starts at $649. iPhone 7 Plus starts at $769. Oh, and there is no longer a 16GB iPhone size; the options now begin at 32GB of storage.
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