iPhone 7 Plus First Impressions

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iPhone 7 Plus-lineup

I have been an iPhone owner since the very first one was released in June of 2007.  I, like many others, was captivated by this computer in my pocket, and was extremely excited about its potential.  I have been able to finagle my way into buying an iPhone every years since than, except for the iPhone 3G–I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade since I purchased the first gen iPhone a few months before the 3G was released.  I have been an early adopter, and have either pre-ordered and picked up on launch day, or purchased a new iPhone at an Apple Store the day it went on sale.

This year, however, the planets didn’t align properly for me to make that happen on time.  I was up at 2:45 to pre-order, but both the Apple and AT&T servers were strained past their limits, pushing my delivery time out 1-2 weeks for my 128 GB 7 Plus in Black.  Between Apple’s “iconic design” being good enough for the masses and those consumers who had their upgrade cycles fall on this year, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was still in high demand.   As I watched others cheer with delight as they tracked and received their new iPhones, all I could do was wait–until yesterday.  My new iPhone was delivered over a week ahead of schedule, and so far, I couldn’t be happier.  Let me share with you some of my initial thoughts and observations after only one day of use.

Form Factor & Design

I referred to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus as having an iconic design.  I’m not sure where I heard that, but I agree wth it, and  I feel like it makes sense with regard to exterior design changes.  This year the iPhone had its tenth release.  Every year it’s gone through iterations–some exterior, and some only interior.  There are many (analysts) who are quick to predict the demise of the iPhone (and by extension Apple) simply based upon interpretation of design changes as a definition of innovation.  Perhaps we have entered a maturity level of smart phones that will no longer require dramatic exterior changes/improvements to the hardware.  If this is the vision of what Apple had been aspiring to all along for the iPhone, we should expect a less dramatic trend in design to continue moving forward.

I have had to convince myself that this was true, too.  I always looked forward to a “new” iPhone equaling a physical change–at least every other year after the introduction of the ‘S” series. We came to expect a new form factor in the years that followed a “S” release.  So what is it about this year with regard to form factor and/or design that sticks out in my mind–if anything?  There are two new colors–black and Jet Black.  If you need everyone to know that you have a new iPhone, they will now be able to identify your device as such–as long as you don’t keep your phone in a case like most people.

iPhone 7-Jet Black

Other than that, the antennas have been moved to the edges, which makes them nearly invisible in the black versions.  The camera bump is larger on the 7 Plus to accommodate the new dual camera system, and the home button (which I will discuss in more detail in a moment) is no longer a physical button, even though the Touch ID ring is still recognizable and functional.  The switches and buttons now match the color of the phone–nice touch.  Finally, the Apple logo also matches the color of the iPhone 7, with the exception of the Jet Black version which is chrome.

Water Resistant

iPhone 7 is the very first water‑resistant iPhone. This is HUGE!  I work around water every day, and have dropped an iPhone or two in a lake or stream while out in the field.  I can finally breath a sigh of relief now.  I freaked my wife (and myself a little) this am by turning on the bathroom sink, and holding my iPhone 7 Plus under the running water for 10 seconds to “show her” that it can now handle spills & splashes.  Apple also says that it’s even resistant to dust now.

iPhone 7-Water-Resistant

Home Button

This one really had me worried if I’m being honest.  Early reports were not terribly favorable regarding the tactile feedback of the home button of the iPhone 7 & 7 Plus.  Gone is the physical home button that we have know for the last 9 iterations.  It has been replaced with an advanced solid-state button that Apple says is designed to be durable, responsive _and_ pressure sensitive. Working in tandem with the new Taptic Engine, it gives you precise tactile feedback as you press.  They also mention that it’s also customizable.  Other than the fact that you can pick between three increasingly harder tactile feedback responses that is carried throughout the OS experience, I’m not sure what else we can customize.  Perhaps it is more what developers will have access to inter apps that will allow them to utilize the Taptic Engine.

Home-Button-Taptic- Engine

Getting back to the Home button experience–spoiler alert, I really like it!  It really wan’t all that hard for me to get used to it.  I actually prefer it to pushing as hard as you had to do with the physical home button.  I chose the strongest tactile feedback, and it seems to be serving me well.


The camera is, by far, the biggest and most compelling reason for anyone to buy or upgrade to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.  Both devices now have OIS (optical Image Stabilization), while the 7 Plus also has a dual lens system.  I mentioned earlier that I bought a black 7 Plus.  I like many others did this for two reasons.  1-I prefer the larger form factor/screen size of the 7 Plus, and 2-I was intrigued by what a dual camera system could to improve my picture taking abilities.

iPhone 7 Plus-Camera

Two comments about the dual camera system as it stands.  Finally having a zoom feature thats worth a damn is a BIG deal.  Unless I am taking a macro photo or a scenic shot, rarely is a 1X picture as close as you want it to be.  Now with a the dual camera system, I can tap one button, and instantly see a 2X version of the same photo.  In addition, via software, I can also zoom from 5X all the way up to 10X.  With the addition of a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture, a six-element lens, and  a Quad-LED True Tone flash, pictures and videos are better than ever in low light situations. Let’s not forget about the addition of wide-color capture to help make those reds,  magentas and orange colors really pop.  I have only begun to scrape the surface of what the camera has to offer, and I am excited to put it through a heavy dose of side-by-side comparisons in the coming weeks.

iPhone 7-Depth of Field

With regard to what Apple is calling “Portrait Mode” or Depth Effect–I have access to the 10.1 developer beta, and have taken a few Depth Effect photos, but I haven’t had the chance to dive deep into that mode as much as I like in just one day with the phone.  I am really looking forward to when the feature will be released to the public via a software update later in October I believe.

So much for a quick look/first impressions.  It’s easy to get caught up in all the new updates and changes that are offered in the iPhone 7 & 7 Plus. I highly recommend it if you are on the fence about updating.  In my opinion it’s more than a solid update.  More to come–stay tuned.

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