For the third year in a row, Apple has kept the look and feel of the iPhone the same. This is a break from the company’s every-two-year-redesign cadence, and has led to speculation that next year’s 10th-generation model will represent a radical new look. The iPhone 7 sports a smooth casing made from 7000 series aluminum shaped to meet the all-glass front; build tolerances are tight enough to give a seamless appearance.
The iPhone’s high-resolution Retina HD display is flanked by either a white or a black bezel; the rear case comes in silver, gold, rose gold, jet black and matte black. (Sorry, space gray fans – the iPhone 7 isn’t offered in that color.) The most noticeable change is that the antenna lines have been moved to the top and bottom of the case, giving the iPhone 7 an unbroken, smooth finish. On the darker colors, the antenna lines pretty much disappear (unless held to the light at certain angles).
The Power button, mute switch and volume buttons are unchanged, and the Home button/ Touch ID fingerprint scanner is still centered at the bottom of the display. But it’s no longer a mechanical button that you press down. It now uses a haptic sensor – Apple’s Taptic Engine – that is pressure sensitive and gives click-like feedback when pressed.
The new Home button takes some getting used to; it’s not any harder or easier to use than before, but it does feel different. The response to pressing the Home button is more akin to a thump than a click. One of the benefits of the new design is that you can adjust how much of a response you’ll feel. Just go to Settings: General: Home Button.
Why would Apple take what’s become an iconic design routinely copied by competitors and tweak the Home button and headphone jack? For one thing, both changes help make the iPhone 7 more resistant to dust and water.
The iPhone 7 flat out takes better pictures than previous iPhones, especially in lower- light situations. That’s true for both the smaller iPhone 7 and the larger iPhone 7 Plus, which has a new two-camera system.
In the iPhone 7, the rear camera has optical stabilization, an ƒ/1.8 aperture, and a six-element lens; it takes 12-megapixel photos. In low-light situations, photos still show some digital noise, but the new system is able to pick up more details and colors than before, and the optical stabilization helps reduce blur due to light camera shake. Not everyone has steady hands.
An updated True Tone flash system relies on four LEDs to compensate for low-light cases when a flash is needed. These LEDs are brighter than before (Apple says 50% brighter), and help bring out more natural colors (such as skin tone) compared to a traditional flash.