30 days since launch, how is iPhone 7 working for us? Find out!

One month ago, people waited in line at the Apple Store or at home for the UPS truck, eager to be among the first to get their hands on iPhone 7. Now, having lived with either the regular sized iPhone 7 or the larger iPhone 7 Plus for four weeks, we've had a real chance to test out the new cameras, see if we could survive without the 3.5 mm headphone jack, experiment with water resistance, get used to the force touch Home button, put the new battery through its paces, and see if the wide gamut screen and A10 Fusion processor really made a difference.

So, how's iPhone 7 worked out?

Read our original iPhone 7 review

Design: Happy it stayed the same or sad it didn't change?


Serenity

I wish the iPhone 7 Plus weren't quite so massive in my hands, but otherwise, I love it. The Jet Black iPhone is the first I've used caseless in years, and it's a little bit exhilarating. Thanks to the stickier finish, I haven't dropped it yet (though I suppose there's still time, knock on wood), and it feels a million times better in my hand than the iPhone 6s Plus.

Also, the secret unsung hero of the new-old design: water resistance. I ended up accidentally walking into a torrential rainstorm over the weekend with my iPhone in hand, and initially let out an expletive — followed by the realization that I didn't have to worry about my electronics shorting. It's a welcome development.


Mikah

Look, the thing is beautiful. Expected, but beautiful. I'm sure Apple has some interesting looks and materials in the works, but I'm happy with my aluminum and glass iPhone. And hey, I went Rose Gold this time, so it's quite a change for me!


Lory

Since I've been solidly on the four-inch screen track leading up to the iPhone 7, to me, the design is a lot different. I am, however, happy with the design of the iPhone 7 Plus, which is the model I've been using for the past month. It looks good, is easy to handle, and other than its large size, is a nearly perfect phone.


Bader

Best. iPhone. Ever. Obviously. But I was more taken aback by the Jet Black iPhone than I thought: Even a month later, it stuns me — when I'm not looking for microabrasions, of which there are more than a few. Still, the iPhone 7 is a great piece of hardware, buoyed by the solid state home button, which I love, and the water resistance, which is essential. And the cameras, which I'll touch on more in a moment, are enormous improvements.


Rene

It's a rounded rectangle. It's been a rounded rectangle since 2007. It's gone to 4-inches, 4.7-inches, and 5.5-inches, it's gone to 7000 series aluminum, and gained water resistance. Maybe one day it'll be edge-to-edge screen and float, but my guess is it still won't become a triangle or go donut shaped.

Like I said in the review, human hands don't change much one year to the next, so the shapes that work best in them, once achieved, shouldn't change much either.

3.5 mm headphone jack: Disaster or non-issue?


Serenity

I put my headphone jack adapter into the wash within a week of owning my iPhone 7 Plus because I'd left it in a pocket so it wouldn't get lost and never used it. Still never had the need to use one. Bluetooth works for me 99% of the time, and the speakers are great for the other 1%.


Mikah

I had my first "Oh no! I don't have my dongle" event a couple days ago. I was riding in a friend's vehicle and I wanted them to listen to an album I was recommending. They had the AUX cord, so I thought I was set … until I remembered what phone I was carrying. The funny part is, my friend was not interested in hearing the album I was trying to play, so it worked out in the end.

For the most part, I'm fine without the jack. I have a dongle in my car, a dongle on my favorite headphones, and use bluetooth headphones or speakers in all other settings and situations.


Lory

So far, I've not had any issues with not having a 3.5 mm headphone jack. I keep my Lightning-to-3.5 mm adapter with me wherever I go, so I've been able to easily adapt to the change without any problems. I'm sure I'll accidentally leave the adapter behind at some point, but hopefully, by then I'll have a set of AirPods and it won't matter anyway.


Bader

It's been annoying on the rare days I've left the house with the adapter plugged into the rough pair of earbuds, or left unceremoniously on the floor of my office, but that's only happened a couple of times. I thoroughly dislike the design of the EarPods, which don't fit in my ears at all, so the adapter has just become a way of life; I have a pair of great B&O earbuds to which the adapter stays semi-permanently connected. I plan to buy a couple more. I dunno, it's mainly been fine.


Rene

What's a 3.5 mm headphone jack?

Kidding. Kinda. I'm sure one day, like when I'm on a plane and go to plug in my noise cancelling headphones, and realize I've forgotten the adapter, it'll bite me in the ass. And then I'll curse the turbulence of transition.

So far, though, I've been using Bluetooth — both AirPods and Bose Q35s — and it's be fine. Great, even. The lack of cords is so liberating any time I have to go back something screams deep inside my freedom soul.

Stereo speakers: Have they made a difference?


Serenity

Absolutely. I find myself using them a lot more than previously, in part to play clips for others where I would have otherwise asked them to hook up headphones. Also of note: calls over speaker sound much better than they used to, and receiving audio from an iPhone 7 on speaker also is significantly improved.


Mikah

Holy crap! Twice now I've been tricked into thinking someone's trying to call me or send me a blast of messages by the super-impressive speakers in my iPhone. They're loud, they're stereo, and they really pack a punch.

That said, they're not going to win any audio awards. They're still tinny (yes, tinny — not tiny [though they are tiny, too]) and flat compared to some really nice bookshelf speakers or even a good pair of headphones. But for what they are, they're pretty damn good.


Lory

Absolutely! Music piping from an iPhone still sounds like it is coming out of a tin can, but having stereo speakers has significantly improved what I hear. Movies and TV shows, for example, are much easier to hear and I don't have to pump the volume up to full. When playing video games on my iPhone 7 Plus, I can hear a lot of the subtle sound effects much clearer than with the iPhone SE. Some things I had never heard before, which makes for a pleasant surprise when playing a game you've played every single day for a year.


Bader

Yeah, I used to have to hook up the phone to a Bluetooth speaker to hear it in the shower (I listen to podcasts in the shower, you wanna fight about it?) and now I don't have to. That the phone is also waterproof, which lets me leave it closer to the shower itself, also doesn't hurt. There have been more than a few times that I shared a video with friends in a loud-ish room and felt the satisfaction of knowing the iPhone 7 Plus in my hand was loud enough for all of them to hear it. Those kinds of situations alone justify the removal of the headphone jack, in my opinion.


Rene

Only a lot. I watch more video and listen to more podcasts on my iPhone speakers than should legally be allowed by audiophile law, so any improvement to me is welcome. A major improvement, like having louder sound coming out of both ends is more than welcome.

Now when I watch Saturday Night Live or John Oliver explain American politics to me, or listen to the latest security discoveries or screenwriting tips, it all comes in loud and clear. And yeah, that includes Arrow and Beats 1. I am, after all, only human.

Cameras: Worth the upgrade?


Serenity

They're the reason to buy an iPhone 7 Plus. No, the telephoto lens doesn't have optical image stabilization and isn't the best in low light, but despite that limitation, it's still an incredible tool for mobile photographers. I've been blown away by early tests of Portrait mode and zoom shots, and the former isn't even out of public beta yet.


Mikah

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. My colleague Ren can attest to the NECESSITY of the iPhone 7 Plus camera for pet photography. My dogs have never looked more adorable than they do in Portrait Mode (or Puptrait Mode as Serenity calls it).

There are some who've lambasted Portrait Mode because it doesn't quite live up to the shallow depth of field on a DSLR, but I'm so impressed with it. Oh, and normal photos (i.e. those not using Portrait Mode) will also make your eyes drool … that's a good thing in this case.


Lory

I could honestly suggest that the camera advancements are the singular reason to upgrade to an iPhone 7 Plus from an iPhone SE. I can't believe how much better it is. I love using the 2 X zoom when I'm trying to get a live shot from a little too far away. I can get closer without seeing the grainy mess that happens when using digital zoom.


Bader

Oh yeah. The low-light photography chops alone are enough to warrant an iPhone 7 purchase, but the true master here is the 7 Plus's second lens, which has given me a new outlet for both portrait and landscape photography. I love finding new ways to use the 56mm lens outdoors, and the Portrait mode has really engaged a creative part of my photography brain. I'm excited for people to try it, though the beginning is going to be a crap-show of Instagram experiments.

I also appreciate the fact that the smaller iPhone, despite the lack of a second camera, is no longer hobbled by a lack of optical image stabilization — pound-for-pound both phones can now grab the exact same photos from the main sensor.


Rene

In broad daylight, you can get a great shot from any of the last few generations of iPhone — most modern phones in general as well. But to me, the biggest advantage of iPhone 7 is the shots I couldn't have gotten before. That includes the better low-light, where friends and family now show up at night or in restaurants where all I would have gotten before was a muddy, noisy, mess.

It also includes the 2x optical zoom on iPhone 7 Plus that lets me get closer and more personal, without getting too close or too personal. It allows for a naturalness I could never get before.

Then there's Portrait Mode, coming with iOS 10.1 to iPhone 7 Plus. It's not perfect, but it creates a feeling I've never gotten with anything but a big, expensive DLSR lens before. From the shadows to the grain, it just looks "right". And feeling is ultimately what portrait photography is about.

Wide gamut screen: Do you even notice?


Serenity

Largely when I'm watching video or editing images, but it's much like True Tone: If you don't notice, the screen is doing its job. The difference is starkest when swapping between working on an iPhone 7 and a 6s: When you compare images between the two phones — especially where reds and oranges are concerned — it's a bold improvement.


Mikah

Hmm, if I'm being honest, no — not really. I'm sure the display is far more colorful than any other display I have (save for my baby Pro), but I don't notice it. I mean, I spend most of my time on my iPhone reading walls of text. I don't open my iPhone to look longingly at photos … maybe it'll be more noticeable to me when Instagram rolls out full, wide gamut support.


Lory

The what now? Nah. Just kidding. I notice. Colors look brighter and more vivid than they ever have on any electronic screen I've spent time with. I remember the first week after upgrading to the iPhone 7 Plus, I started seeing the real world more clearly. It was as though I was noticing colors better. I know, it sounds corny, but I really did feel like the world around me became more colorful.


Bader

I have to admit, it hasn't really crossed my mind. Sure, the iPhones' screens are vivid, but because I go between using an iPhone and an Android device, usually with an AMOLED display, I'm used to saturation — just not necessarily accuracy. I appreciate that the iPhone 7 is technically more accurate, but I'm more attuned to notice when colors are off or wrong, which is more often the case on a poorly-calibrated mid-range Android phone — and there are plenty of those in my office.


Rene

Those reds. Those oranges. That magenta! It sounds trite but it's true — once you go experience wide color, you notice when it's not there. What makes iPhone 7 especially great is that it can both capture and display in DCI-P3, and iOS and macOS both manage color from end-to-end.

Dolby showed me a demo comparing 4K in sRGB to 1080p in DCI-P3. It wasn't even close. Where we are today, deep color beats dense pixels, and I can't wait for it to be everywhere.

Battery life and performance: Better, badder, or same?


Serenity

I'm killing my iPhone 7 Plus faster than I ever killed the 6s Plus, but I'm also taking an excessive amount of mobile photography thanks to the 7 Plus's camera. (Camera often takes up 30% — or more — of my battery screen.) So I'm not shocked.


Mikah

Seems to be the same for me. I will always, always, always wish I had more battery life, but my iPhone 7 Plus does a pretty good job of keeping me safe from battery anxiety. If I didn't end up having to plug it in early in the night as often as I do right now, I'd be pleased. That said, I'm just happy we're keeping things relatively the same and not losing battery life!


Lory

I can't answer this question with experience, since I'm coming from the iPhone SE. I can, however, say that I've been happy with the battery life of my iPhone 7 Plus. I've been out-and-about all day, taking pictures, playing Pokemon Go, and using Google Maps to get around and still have about 40 percent of battery power at the end of a user-heavy day. I've even accidentally forgot to charge my iPhone overnight and been able to use it for a decent amount of time the next day before needing to charge it.


Bader

Performance is appreciably snappier on the iPhone 7 Plus than it was on the iPhone 6s Plus, mainly in the areas of app start times and reloading of cached content. The 7 Plus's extra gigabyte of RAM also makes a pretty big difference in the number of tabs Safari can keep in memory. Overall, though, the performance improvements appear to be more substantial on paper than in practice.

I am still figuring out battery life: On the iPhone 7, I get about 13 hours, which is pretty much aligned with my 6s experience; on the 7 Plus, I easily get a full day with around 20% left in the tank by the time I go to sleep, which is also around the same as the 6s Plus. Maybe I'm just using the phone more, or there's an errant app sucking up battery in the background, but I'm not realizing the extra uptime promised at the keynote.


Rene

My views are skewed because the iOS 10 beta was brutal on my iPhone 6s Plus. Well, the iOS 10 beta combined with Pokemon Go and Snapchat. But that, rather than the tamer email and web browsing, is how people use phones these days.

I used to be in Low Power mode all day, every day. So much so, people made fun of me. Now I'm back to running in normal mode without a problem. I do kill Snapchat, like Facebook, the moment I leave it now, but either way I'm doing more and going longer than ever before, and that really matters to me.

Water-resistance: Has it made a splash?


Serenity

Underwater 4K photography is my secret joy when it comes to the iPhone 7's water resistance, even though it's not officially supported. I've taken some incredible water photographs and video, and it makes me long for the days when all cameras are completely waterproof and submersible.

As I mentioned above, though, the true peace of mind is being able to get your iPhone wet in the rain, or wash it off after an accidental cooking mess, and not stress out about hurting your device.


Mikah

I'm way too friggin' careful with my devices to even know whether this lives up to expectations, and I plan to keep it that way. That said, I bring my phone into the bathroom with me when I shower and on the few occasions where I've had to step out and interact with my phone for a few seconds (mom, why do you always call me when I'm showering?), I've been a little less worried about getting drops of water on the screen.


Lory

I haven't even tried to use it near water yet. I honestly don't think I ever will. I've gotten used to going out of my way to avoid bringing my phones near water that I don't know if I could bring myself to just start holding it over the toilet or carrying it in my pocket while playing in the waves at the beach.


Bader

Yes: I took the iPhone 7 Plus on a kayak trip and kept it in my pocket playing music the whole time, and have the lake must have splashed onto without a problem. It was the perfect test case, and a fairly common situation (for a Canadian, anyway).


Rene

To be crystal clear, Apple doesn't cover water damage under the standard warranty. So, iPhone 7 water resistance is meant for accidental exposure, not for steady shark diving.

That said, while testing it out, I've exposed iPhone 7 to splashes, sprays, dunks, and water drops, multiple times and it's just kept on going and going and going and… you get the idea.

I love to walk in the rain, so to be able to do that without a care in the world has been great.

New home button: Improved or wrecked?


Serenity

Long live the new Home button. I understand where the old button folks are coming from, but to me, the 6s's Home button now feels far too squishy — and vulnerable, quite frankly. The new Taptic buzz is a delightful hint of the future, though I do wish it was a little bit more pronounced when the iPhone sits flat on a table.


Mikah

The Home button on my old iPhone 6s is so mushy and gross! It took me a few days to get used to the haptic feedback of the Home button, but now I wouldn't have it any other way!

I have my Home button set to the second setting and it feels great! I think the longer adjustment period has been me trying not to forget how to reset my phone on the rare occasions when that comes up.


Lory

It's one of the features I like to show people the most. I think it is incredible how Apple made a home button that isn't actually a button. It seems kind of like magic! I love putting a piece of cloth across the Home button and asking my friends to press it. They always look at me funny, but I'm super impressed. I can't wait to see what's in store for the future of the Home button. I just know Apple is getting us ready for something big that has to do with getting rid of the Home button entirely, or something just as outrageous.


Bader

It's probably my favorite aspect of the new phones, and it's very clear that the new iOS 10 lock screen behavior was designed with the iPhones 7 in mind. My mind took a day or so to adapt, and now I can't go back; the buttons are responsive, clever and satisfying, and that Taptic engine powering it is put to good use elsewhere in iOS 10. I can't wait for more apps to take advantage of it.


Rene

I don't mind the new Home button at all. It feels crisper to me on iPhone 7 than iPhone 7 Plus, but it works fine and is far more flexible than the old mechanical button ever was. I also love the new Taptic engine, which seems far more accurate and focused at placing haptic feedback into the app interface. I don't just see what's happening now — I feel it.

The only downside for me is that the Taptic Engine still isn't as loud as the old vibration motor, which means I have to remember to switch the ringer back on if I'm away from my iPhone and don't want to miss any calls or messages.

That said, I think the Taptic Engine will end up being the best feature that flew under the radar at launch.

Bottom line: How's iPhone 7, one month later?


Serenity

It's my first iPhone where having the Plus size feels justified. The camera improvements alone would sell me on the device, but the wide color screen, Jet black finish, and Taptic engine round out the package in a magnificent way. The phone isn't perfect: The size is still too big overall for my hands, the battery could definitely last longer, and I miss the iPad's True Tone screen improvements. But it's probably the best iPhone I've ever owned, and a great roadmap for the future of Apple's smartphone.


Mikah

Look, I was going to be upgrading to the iPhone 7 Plus no matter what … I upgrade every year, because I'm a ridiculous tech lover. That said, this phone was totally worth the upgrade for the camera alone. Add to that the speed of the phone, the sound of the speakers, and all the fun new haptic touches, and you've got a damn good iPhone and a superb smartphone. I love this phone — no headphone jack and all!


Lory

I have mixed feelings about how I feel about the iPhone 7 Plus. On the one hand, it is a huge hardware upgrade over the iPhone SE. On the other hand, it's just huge. I'm having a lot of fun playing with the super-duper camera and I love how clear and bright the large screen is, but I'm not sure I'm going to keep it as my main device for much longer.


Bader

It's a fantastic set of phones, and an essential upgrade for someone coming from the iPhone 5s or 6. I don't think it's a huge departure from the still-great iPhone 6s, but the little updates add up to a big, unified improvement. I'm glad the headphone debacle has quieted, and we can look forward to Apple's hardware innovations revealing themselves more thoroughly in software updates, like Portrait Mode on the 7 Plus, and the new Haptics API that developers are surely already experimenting with.


Rene

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus — I've been alternating between them but favoring the Plus — are phenomenal phones. The camera alone continues to delight me daily, and the Taptic Engine is something I think will be appreciated more and more as clever software that takes advantage of it begins to ship.

The screen resolution remains low, though, and focused on battery life rather than pixel count or density, and some people just won't be able to get over the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

If you already have an iPhone 6s, I'm still convinced you only need to upgrade if the camera or water resistance are must haves for you. But if you love iPhone, you're really going to love iPhone 7.