Apple iPhone 7 Plus review: including Portrait Mode
Are Android phones better than the iPhone 7 Plus?
- Decent camera with great video
- Good screen
- Compatible with Apple ecosystem
- Portrait Mode is a mess
- No headphone jack
- Price hike for Australians
- Siri feels old
- No VR strategy
A lightly-flawed flagship. Taptic feedback isn't as useful as a headphone jack, the camera's Portrait Mode is a mess and there are some low light issues. But it's fast and well-appointed and if Apple's ecosystem is important to you, value is less of an issue.
Under heavy usage, we found the 2,900mAh battery still managed to last a full day. However, under light usage it could stretch to two. In this regards it’s noticeably better than the Pixel XL and Samsung’s S7s which need frequent charging. We also found that the 7 Plus charged very fast indeed. Ultimately, for the first time in a while, we weren’t hitting mid afternoon and worrying about whether the phone would die.
It’s a minor point for many, but kudos to Apple for making the data transfer on these new phones very fast. We’ve taken many pictures and a load of video recently and transferring that via USB can be a chore. Apple’s speed is much faster than most competitors (including the Pixel XL).
Read more: Clamcase for iPad Pro 9.7-inch
However, we still have the issue of photos landing on Windows PCs the wrong way round. I realise Apple blames Microsoft and vice versa here but come on, how many years does it take to fix this? Manually correcting the issue is a real chore.
It’s also worth mentioning Siri. When this phone first came out it was reasonably good, although there were issues. However, now that the Pixel is here it’s been rendered borderline-obsolete thanks to the A.I. smarts of Google Assistant which is not only far more accurate in understanding speech but far more intelligent when it comes to executing commands too.
Should you buy it? This is a great phone with some potentially-significant issues. The lack of headphone jack is a retrograde step and weeks of living with the ‘Taptic’ feedback that has replaced it have demonstrated that it’s far less useful than a simple 3.5mm port. The camera here is very good but not great. If you have longed for a phone with a zoom, now you’ve got a decent one but we’ve not really heard the market crying out for this feature. Also, Siri now makes the whole phone feel a bit more out of date than it should do – it needs an upgrade quick smart as she’s dragging the cutting-edge technology feel of the phone down. Also, why is Apple releasing a feature in Portrait Mode before its ready? Apple is all about fastidious/autistic attention to detail, not releasing a half-baked mess.
As for price, this is incredibly expensive – you can buy a decent laptop for the same amount: the 32GB model costs $1,269, the 128GB model costs $1,419 and the 256GB model costs $1,569. If this isn’t hard enough to swallow, Australians are once again being charged a nice beaches tax of 13-15 per cent.
As we’ve seen, though, it can be had for less if you’re buying it on a two-year plan, although the best value still comes from buying outright and choosing SIM-only plans.
If you compare the phones on their own to the likes of the Huawei P9, Mate 8 or Samsung Galaxy S7s, it’s a bit of a joke – those phones cost significantly less and are still excellent in today’s market. Of course what you’re buying with Apple is access to the whole Apple ecosystem and compatibility with attractive accessories and services like the Apple Watch, iMessenger, iCloud photo sharing and forthcoming Airpods earbuds. If that means a lot to you then this is the phone to buy and a much better value proposition, but when judged purely as a phone and its functions, there’s much better value to be had elsewhere.
Since publishing this both Google's
Pixel XL Android flagship and its Daydream
View VR system have launched. The VR system is
revolutionary and pushes the Pixel into a different league compared to all
other phones. Even the most ardent, Apple fanboy should check them out before investing in a new iPhone]
If you've currently got an older iPhone that's in good condition, you can trade it in with Apple and get some money off on of these. But the main difference upgraders will notice is a speed boost and not much more. They'll even, likely prefer having the headphone jack back.
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