The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are evolutions of the previous two generations. They add waterproofing, new colour options, a brighter screen, better cameras and a faster processor. The removal of the headphone jack is a brave move, but a Lightning adaptor is included in the box. Which one is best? That will depend on your budget and whether you prefer a smaller or larger phone.
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Apple has taken the wraps off the new 2016 iPhones and there’s much to be excited about. In our iPhone 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus comparison we explain how the two new phones differ and which one you should pick. See also:
iPhone 7 release date
Bear in mind that this comparison has been written before we have fully tested and reviewed the new handsets. If our tests turn up any other differences between the phones, we’ll update this article. We’ll also add photo and video comparisons as soon as we can.
iPhone 7 vs 7 Plus: In brief
If you’re in a hurry, here are the main differences:
iPhone 7 Plus
12Mp (wide-angle + telephoto)
Optical zoom up to 2x
14 hours (3G) talk time
13 hours video playback
21 hours (3G) talk time
14 hours video playback
While there are plenty of new features, most are shared across both models – we’ll come to these in a minute.
iPhone 7 vs 7 Plus: Price
Specifications are one thing, but another thing differentiating the two phones is of course price.
Both phones have several key new features compared to the iPhone 6S /
iPhone 6S Plus:
Waterproof (1m for 30min)
No headphone jack (Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor in box)
Improved, brighter screen with wide colour gamut
New touch-sensitive home button
Longer battery life
New cameras (see below)
A10 Fusion processor
Black / Jet Black colour options
New 256GB storage capacity
4G LTE up to 450Mb/s
Updated Taptic engine
iPhone 7 vs 7 Plus: Size and weight
Given that you’re probably familiar with the 4.7in and 5.5in iPhones – the same form factors which have been around since 2014 – there’s little point in going over well-trodden ground in terms of comparing their screens, resolutions, size and weight.
Suffice to say that the new models are identical to their predecessors for size, and a few grams lighter each.
Which is best for you? This writer prefers the larger screen of the 5.5in model, while others feel this is too big and won’t fit in their pocket. The smaller screen feels too small for me – a middle ground of around 5in would have been nice, but Apple’s range currently spans 4in (
iPhone SE) up to the iPhone 7 Plus.
The 7 Plus is actually a little larger than the
Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which packs in a 5.7in Quad-HD display.
iPhone 7 vs 7 Plus: Cameras
One of the most interesting updates is the iPhone 7 Plus’s new dual-camera setup. It’s by no means the first phone to pack two 12Mp rear cameras – the
LG G5 has a similar setup, and
Huawei’s P9 has one colour and one monochrome sensor – but it does things a bit differently.
Like the G5, one camera is wide-angle and the other telephoto. On the iPhone these work together in a couple of different ways. One is that they allow a 2x optical zoom, i.e. you use the wide-angle for normal photos, and the telephoto to ‘zoom in’ on the scene.
The second way is the new Portrait mode, which is coming in an iOS update later this year. Here, the telephoto lens captures the subject in focus, while the other camera is used to produce an out-of-focus background: the bokeh you get with a DSLR. This is also a trick available on the Huawei P9, but as software is needed in both cases to figure out what is the subject and what is the background, it will be interesting to see how the iPhone’s system copes with tricky conditions.
The lens of the wide-angle camera has a wider aperture than before: it’s now f/1.8, which is brighter than the f/2.2 lens on the iPhone 6S Plus. The telephoto camera has an f/2.8 aperture.
On the iPhone 7, which also gets the updated 12Mp sensor and f/1.8 lens, Apple has added optical image stabilisation – something that has always been exclusive to the Plus models. This is used for video and gives a much smoother motion when panning or when walking along.
Around the front, the new phones have upgraded 7Mp cameras with an aperture of f/2.2 (the same as on the iPhone 6S models.
Both front and rear cameras now support “wide colour capture” for photos and live photos, but sadly not for video, so you won’t be enjoying the extra colours on your Ultra HD Premium TV.
The screens on the new phones have a wider colour gamut, and Apple has said that the new sensors are calibrated to the screens, so colours should be more accurate than ever. We’ll have to wait until we can properly test the new phones before we know just how much better they are than their predecessors, and how they compare to the best smartphone cameras currently available.
iPhone 7 vs 7 Plus: Which should I buy?
rumours of ‘radical’ changes in the iPhone 8 – the phone expected to launch next year, and the 10th anniversary iPhone – there’s some temptation to wait and see what 2017 brings, especially if you already have an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus and are in the middle of a two-year contract.
Those upgrading from other phones, including the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, will likely be tempted by the new iPhones’ cameras, water resistance and even the new colour options. Performance gains should be significant, too, but the removal of the headphone jack could well put some off. Apple bundles an adaptor in the box so you can connect your favourite headphones, but it does mean you can’t use them and charge your phone at the same time unless you buy an extra accessory with both Lightning and 3.5mm ports – or use Bluetooth headphones.
To answer the main question here – which of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus is best – then as ever, it comes down to three main factors: price, size and cameras.
If you don’t mind a large-screened, pocket-unfriendly phone that’s more expensive but which is also more capable in the camera department, then go for the iPhone 7 Plus.
For those who can get along with the much smaller 4.7in screen, the iPhone 7 is considerably cheaper (when bought outright) yet has most of the benefits of its bigger brother.
It’s great to see that Apple has doubled the storage capacities and that 32GB is the minimum now, but the jump to 128GB is very much £100 well spent. Unless you’re so organised that you regularly offload photos and videos, even 32GB will fill up fast with apps, games and Amazon Prime video downloads.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus: Specs
A10 Fusion processor chip with 64bit architecture and M10 co-processor
5.5-inch IPS LCD with 3D Touch, 1920 x 1080, 401ppi
1300:1 contrast ratio (typical)
2x 12Mp rear-facing cameras, ƒ/1.8, optical image stabilisation and 4K video recording
7Mp front-facing with, ƒ/2.2, 1080p video recording and burst mode