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Managing to combine all the functions of a phone with the large screen of a tablet, phablets are one of the fastest growing mobile sectors. And as a mobile leader, Apple have decided they want in on the action. They started the Plus line last year, but it’s this year’s new iPhone 7 Plus that really shows what the manufacturer can do. This is Apple at their very best: great looks, great performance, and great innovation.
Why should you rush out to buy one? Yes, obviously there’s good performance, big screen, etc. But the real stand outs are the extras. That awesome dual camera set, the bigger battery, the better speakers, and it’s even water resistant. For anyone looking to buy a top end hand set, the iPhone 7 Plus is going to be a great deal.
This could only be an Apple phone. The light and yet sturdy glass and metal unibody casing, the slim profile, the sexy curves and sleek lines, this is classic iPhone styling. But there are a couple of new design features. You’ll see that the physical home button no longer clicks, it vibrates because now it’s a haptic feedback button. The old antennae bands at the rear are gone, leaving the smooth back plate continuous and unbroken.
Under that cover you’ll find some very satisfying specs. There’s new camera tech, dual speakers rather than mono, there’s a faster chip set for more power. And then there’s the fact that this is the first water resistant iPhone.
The price tag is hefty, but if you’re willing to make the investment, this is a premium, top end phone. You get tons of extras, as well as the expected great performance specs, making this a truly worthwhile purchase.
Performance is all important in a top end device, so we’ll begin there, though Apple rarely release exact processor numbers. The iPhone 7 Plus seems to run something like a quad core 2.2 GHz processor, and it’s definitely got a combination of 3 GB of RAM and the new A10 Fusion chip set. Mix all that together and the result is a phone that’s got lightening speeds, and that’s very responsive to user input.
As an iPhone this is obviously an iOS device, and it runs the new iOS10 version. There’s more speed and stability, the familiar intuitive interface, and a few nice new changes as well. There’s “raise to wake,” and better notifications on the lock screen. And then the menus have been simplified down, making them look cleaner and less crowded.
There should be no doubt that you’re getting amazing performance here. There’s no lag, even when performing CPU intensive tasks such as high end gaming. Even hard core users are going to be more than satisfied.
It’s larger screens that define phablets, and the iPhone 7 Plus comes in with a big five and a half inch display, complete with the 3D touch tech first seen on the iPhone 6S. That larger size means comfortable typing and a great viewing experience, but it does also mean that one handed use is practically impossible, and the 7 Plus is a little too large for the average pocket.
As for resolution, there’s 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 PPI), which is HD, though not 4K HD. It might be best to ignore those numbers though, since this is an LED backlit LCD display, and that natural, bright colour reproduction more than makes up for lower resolution numbers. You’ve got IPS as well, giving you excellent and wide viewing angles.
In reality, the display on the 7 Plus is fantastic, and more than stands up to the competition. For HD video watching, game playing, or just simple emailing, this is a good looking screen, and one that most people will love.
Apple are placing a lot of marketing focus on the photography aspects of the 7 Plus, as well they should be, since the camera set is awesome. At the front you’ve got a 7 MP cam with HDR and auto face detection, and that’s much higher resolution than we’d expect for a front camera.
Around to the rear and you’re getting the new dual 12 MP cam. The techie parts of this are complicated, but essentially the dual camera lets you zoom in and out of shots without degrading quality, like with a DSLR. There’s panorama mode, optical zoom, HDR, and a new quad LED flash for low light pics. And you can take 8 MP pics and record 4K video simultaneously as well.
Mobile photography is improving, but right now, this has to be one of the best camera sets around. Even better, the camera software is simple to use. This means that you’ll be getting some incredible shots with the iPhone 7 Plus.
Before we leave you, there are a few things that we need to mention. Battery life has been improved here, meaning you get up to 21 hours of use before you need to recharge. And speakers have been improved as well, since there are now dual external speakers for true stereo sound. That IP67 rating means the 7 Plus is water resistant, and safe in up to a metre of water for up to thirty minutes.
Controversially, Apple have dropped the traditional headphone jack. Headphones now plug into the lightening port and therefore get better sound quality since data is transferred more quickly. You will get an adaptor so you can still use your normal headphones, or you could invest in some wireless ear buds. Do remember that this does mean that you can’t plug in your headphones and charge your phone at the same time though.
|Technology||GSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE|
|Dimensions||158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm (6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 in)|
|Weight||188 g (6.63 oz)|
|- IP67 certified - dust and water resistant|
|- Water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes|
|- Apple Pay (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX certified)|
|Display||LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors|
|Size||5.5 inches (~67.7% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Resolution||1080 x 1920 pixels (~401 ppi pixel density)|
|Protection||Ion-strengthened glass, oleophobic coating|
|- Wide color gamut display|
|- 3D Touch display & home button|
|- Display Zoom|
|Chipset||Apple A10 Fusion|
|CPU||Quad-core 2.23 GHz|
|Internal||32/128/256 GB, GB, 3 GB RAM|
|Primary Camera||Dual 12 MP, (28mm, f/1.8, OIS & 56mm, f/2.8), phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, quad-LED (dual tone) flash|
|Features||Geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 8MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, HDR (photo/panorama)|
|Video||2160p@30fps, 1080p@30/60/120fps, 720p@240fps|
|Secondary Camera||7 MP, f/2.2, 32mm, 1080p@30fps, 720p@240fps, face detection, HDR, panorama|
|Alert types||Vibration, proprietary ringtones|
|Loudspeaker||Yes, with stereo speakers|
|- Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic|
|- Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter incl.|
|WLAN||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot|
|Bluetooth||v4.2, A2DP, LE|
|GPS||Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS|
|NFC||Yes (Apple Pay only)|
|USB||v2.0, reversible connector|
|Sensors||Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer|
|Messaging||iMessage, SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email|
|- Siri natural language commands and dictation|
|- iCloud cloud service|
|- MP3/WAV/AAX+/AIFF/Apple Lossless player|
|- MP4/H.264 player|
|- Audio/video/photo editor|
|- Document editor|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Ion 2900 mAh battery (11.1 Wh)|
You’ll be dropping a lot of money if you want a high end phone, so it’s important that you make a good purchasing decision. With its great performance specs, good looks, fantastic cameras, and tons of extras like improved audio and better battery life, the water resistant iPhone 7 Plus is going to be a great buy for anyone looking for a premium hand set.
In terms of connectivity, the 7 Plus has more support for LTE bands, so you’re getting better than ever 4G service, as well as the normal WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G support. There’s 128 GB of internal memory in this model, which is a pretty good amount for most people, but you’ll be getting an iCloud account for online storage as well. Be aware that you can’t add more external memory to the 7 Plus, since it lacks an SD card slot.
Wrapping things up, and do we have any complaints? Nothing too serious. Higher screen resolution would be good, but realistically that display is pretty nice to look at anyway. Some people aren’t going to like the lack of headphone jack either. But on the whole we’re very impressed with the iPhone 7 Plus, and think that you will be too. If you want a premium phablet device, then check out the 7 Plus, you’ll love it!
by Dan Forster, Mobile Phone Expert
Dan is our mobile phone review expert helping customers make better buying decisions. With a passion for technology and taking things apart Dan single-handedly reviews all the phones listed on the TigerMobiles.com website.