All about the AirPods in iPhone 7

by Goh De No
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By now you would have heard that Apple’s latest iPhone will not come with a headphone jack. This is kind of old news to us in the tech world, especially since Motorola has already done this with its latest smartphone.

What’s new (and ugly) is Apple’s AirPods, which are two earphones — independent from each other with no wires — that you stick in your ears. It looks like you’ve put on earrings that look like earphones.

While early impressions show that you look absolutely ridiculous with those things on, I fear that over the next six months, these AirPods will become the norm.

The AirPods are so outrageous, that they’ve seemed to overshadow the launch of the actual iPhone. You can’t really blame people though, because the new iteration of the iPhone, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, looks almost identical as the iPhone 6/6S.

The iPhone 7, 7 Plus and Airpods from Apple. Image courtesy of Apple.

This makes it three years running on the same design. Which is getting pretty dull by now, especially when you see Jimmy Fallon running around town asking people what they think of the iPhone 7 by giving them the last generation iPhone. Yes, the majority had no idea what they were holding, meaning people in general can’t differentiate between the old and the new because they always look the same.

So Apple plays it super safe with this new iPhone, they’ve added a water-resistant body (took them long enough!); the headphone jack is no more; there’s a new Home button that isn’t a physical key; and on the 7 Plus and only on the 7 Plus, there are two rear cameras.

The good news here is that Apple has finally come to its senses and removed the 16GB variant of the iPhone. I go on about this every single time an iPhone is released because nobody can live with 16GB when the operating system already takes up 4GB or so worth of space.

So the entry-level iPhone is now 32GB. Here’s the bad news — Apple took away the 64GB version, so if you feel like 32GB isn’t enough, you have to get a 128GB version.

Delusional smartphone users will probably look at the newly added 256GB and say that they need that much space. I have yet to meet one, or know anyone, who uses more than 100GB on their smartphone, but since Apple is introducing this, I’m sure they’re bound to appear. Note: This is completely different from having an expandable storage of up to 256GB, because you can choose what size you want to expand your memory by, whereas this is a completely flat 256GB storage which you can store 30 different series from Netflix on.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are both rated IP67, which is able to withstand dust, and submersion in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes. This is a significant upgrade because, well other makers have been doing this for coming two years now.

The Home button change is one thing that I actually like on the iPhone 7 siblings. The all familiar circular home button on the bottom isn’t around anymore.

It’s a soft key which gives you a haptic feedback when you press it. What would be better is that if that bottom chunk of the phone, which houses this button, be completely removed and the home button be built into the screen.

Users of the iPhone 5 and 5S would be very familiar with this as they have problematic physical keys and have a home soft key installed. So this would make the iPhone physically smaller, and have a home button on screen to save space, which would give more screen size to the device.

Another “new” addition is a matte black and jet black, which you will pay more for (the jet black). Also, there are numerous new users of the jet black unit complaining about scratches on the back of the phone from light use. Sure it’s not as serious as getting your phone blown up, but it would be a pity if you bought the jet black and slapped a case over it. What’s the point of paying more for that colour then? So you can tell people about it?

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus retains the same 4.7 and 5.5-inch screen size respectively. Resolutions have not changed either.

Apple is apparently not going for a higher resolution, but is improving on the way it renders colour on the screens itself. So the iPhone 7 screens can produce more colours than the standard sRGB screens. There’s also an ambient light sensor to make your phone brighter when outdoors, and dimmer when inside.

As for the cameras, the iPhone 7 has a single 12-megapixel camera on the back. No increase in megapixels, or pixel sensors. Just a mere upgrade on colour captured. There is now optical image stabilisation, which really helps and the aperture on the rear camera is f/1.8.

The major bump is on the front camera, where it’s now 7-megapixels, and is going to be much better than all other version of iPhones. It’s about time that front camera got an upgrade too.

As for the iPhone 7 Plus, this is the only way you can get two cameras on the back, A 12-megapixel wide angle and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens. That just means you get a wider and a narrower shot with your camera.

The new iPhones of course come with an upgraded chip, an A10 quad core which is supposed to use much less power. It is the fastest chip on an iOS device, and on the iPhone 7 there’s 2GB of RAM; and the 7 Plus will get 3GB of RAM. Personally, performance on both will not defer much.

Battery size has also increased by 14 per cent in the iPhone 7, and five per cent in the 7 Plus.

Wrap Up

As mentioned earlier, Apple has again played safe in terms of design and features.

Going waterproof isn’t exactly groundbreaking, and it is actually more of an industry standard now for flagships. As for the dual camera setup, see Huawei’s P9 in collaboration with Lecia, and LG’s G5 launched way earlier than this, and the exclusion of the headphone jack is already taken by Motorola.

Screen resolution is still down from other flagships, and if the iPhone 7’s camera is the same unit as last year’s, then it will likely still fall short of the top Android smartphone cameras from HTC, Sony and Samsung. The iPhone 7 Plus camera unit still requires more testing for us to be sure whether it is indeed ahead of the pack, but majority of the iPhone 7 seems to still be playing catch up to what others have done. Rather than being the leader in innovating features, it seems Apple is content to just lay back and refine what has already been done before.

The iPhone 6 or even 6S users definitely need not look for an upgrade in this case.

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