iPhone 7 Plus Review - iOS 10, Camera, Battery & Summary
iOS 10 General Performance
Outside the benchmarks this translates into a superb phone to use, the added bonus of 3GB Ram on the iPhone 7 Plus, due to the way the dual camera renders images, also helps with the smooth operation of the iOS 10.1.1 OS.
I won’t go into too much depth with the main operating system as I covered some of the changes in a separate post which you can read here.
However once installed it provided all the latest improvements that iOS 10 brings to the table with ample performance to match. With iOS 10 you have customisable widgets that can be accessed with a swipe from the home screen on the left. There are even improvements to Siri, your voice activated assistant.
You can also group apps into folders as before or swipe up from the base to get a control panel with fast access to your wireless connection and media player controls for example.
Additionally you have 3D Touch which is enabled in the Settings > General > Accessibility option.
Turning this mode on will allow you to press on an icon – via the Home screen – a little harder. Depending on the Icon/App supported it will bring up a separate context menu which dynamically changes on certain icons to reveal more options.
It works like a right mouse click function in some ways as the context menu for example on the Mail icon will allow you to select a 'New Mail' option to start composing your mail straight from the bat.
Additionally pressure within Apps can also produce new results. For example in the latter Mail App you can apply extra pressure on an email to reveal a pop-up of the message which you can read before releasing the pressure on the screen, which will then send the mail back.
So it acts like a preview function. Likewise you can do the same on the Photo’s App to view photos without tapping on them first.
I also listened to music comfortably, dabbled with the newer version of Maps and from my point of view both worked wonderfully. Even the navigation app provided accurate routing and it tracked my position when I went off route, so the base navigation app does work a tad better than previous versions.
For me though the key feature with the OS from a navigation point of view is that the screen when rotated to landscape will also rotate the icons to match. So in other words it supports the extra screen real-estate and this helps when coming off the back of playing a game. For example, as you hold the phone the icons are already in place in the same orientation, thus you won’t need to manually rotate the screen if you don’t need to.
Additionally I loved browsing on the device and watching YouTube/Netflix content; all of the features are handled with ease. I also found that after several hours of use the screen quality definitely holds its own against the other smartphones I have used recently.
Camera operation In use
The base model is now set at 32 GB minimum which is a wise move given how much storage space a 4K video recording can take up. With the previous iPhone 6s Plus I had to review this was equipped with 16GB of RAM and I constantly had to copy video footage back over to my computer to free up space. 32 GB is at least a better starting point.
What’s strange though is that Apple removed the 64GB option and instead it jumps to 128GB from the 32GB option. This results in a premium in cost that could have been avoided if Apple had staggered the storage properly.
Even so I have never had an issue with the iPhone camera's operation, as their point and click nature does a great job for taking those spur of the moment snap-shots.
With the iPhone 7 Plus I forgot mention the rear camera features a Dual 12 MP, (28mm, f/1.8, OIS & 56mm, f/2.8), phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, quad-LED (dual tone) flash and the front incorporates a 1/3" sensor size @ 28mm, 1/3.6" sensor size @ 56mm, geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 8MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, HDR (photo/panorama).
You will also find a BETA option on the iPhone 7 Plus which allow you to use the rear-camera in a portrait mode. Basically to avoid confusion it simply creates a depth of field effect to keep the primary object i.e. a person’s face sharp, while creating a blurred effect in the background.
In reality this option was a touch hit and miss, as I found it hard to see any major improvements with the depth of field. Yet the option is still in BETA in fairness.
I’m not expert of photography but I couldn’t’ deny that most of the images I took came out well when viewing these back on my computer.
I’ve added the Flicker gallery below so you can see the un-edited versions that I took with the camera.
Despite its simple auto-focus nature, the camera worked well outdoors in brighter conditions (as did the screen in terms of being able to view it properly) you can still tap to focus manually and use your finger to adjust the light exposure option.
You also have standard geo-tagging, HDR support, the new live feature which basically takes a snapshot of footage before and after the press of the shutter button so it captures moments you may have missed.
You can then view these back in the Photos App which has also had improvements in iOS 10 in that the People’s section can now group all the photos of people it recognises into their own folders.
Additionally you can use the Photo App to perform basic editing of your photos i.e. crop, rotate and change brightness/contrast.
More features of the camera include Time-lapse and slow-mo options, alongside the Panoramic style mode. I did not use these a great deal but they could prove useful none the less.
By default you don’t have the 4K option enabled, instead you have to delve into the phone's main settings option to enable 4K recording, so this could be more intuitive.
However once enabled the phone option will display a small 4k symbol at the top part of the display so you know you are in the mode.
Once shooting 4K you can also press the shutter button to take 8MP photos as well if the need takes you.
The quality of the 4K footage when viewed back on my 4K TV and when uploaded to Flickr looked good. I think the LG G5 had a slight edge here, but for the iPhone’s automated nature still did a superb job. Like I said at the beginning the phone also coped well at long term recording in 4K. I did not detect any major over-heating issues that seem to plague its competition when recording in 4K.
I must mention as well that the front facing camera performed well to, it has 1080P @30fps support and 7MP still’s, so in my opinion anyone interested in Vlogs will find this smartphone will perform really well for this purpose.
I found battery life was actually pretty good. It certainly helps having a 2900mAh battery, but you do have the inclusion of a more powerful CPU/GPU to eat away at this.
Even so standby life is exceptional on the phone and I also managed to use the 4K camera heavily to record footage for my Hisense feature. Considering I started at 11am and finished around 4 (pretty much non-stop recording), the phone still had some life left in it. Only the storage became a hindrance as the 32GB was used up on a few occasions!
I also watched a 2 hour film via a locally stored file and with the Wireless antenna/backlight set to full. In this time the phone had drained by 24%, which is 8% better than the LG G5 if memory serves. Mind you the latter does have a 5.3” display and a higher resolution. Even so the battery is well optimised for movie content.
For gaming you can see a larger drain, but I sensed the phone does handle its battery life pretty good. The new battery power saving mode (which kicks in at around 20%) will also provide an added boost to proceedings if needs be.
I did not go wild with the tests but it does work, as I dropped the phone into a washing up bowl and it was still working without a problem. I’ve seen some YouTube videos where people have tested the phone to the extreme and it far outweighs its depth target.
If I take the vast price tag out of the equation I can’t help but be impressed with the iPhone 7 Plus. It is on the large size but its black finish gives it a slimming look, making it appear smaller than it is.
I also enjoyed using the device more than the iPhone 6s Plus. I’m not sure why, as the 6s Plus is pretty much the same size as the iPhone 7 Plus. I just think the iPhone 7 Plus has a better look, more power, and a slightly better camera which edges it for me.
I still don’t like the removal of the 3.5mm port, but at the end of the day it's something you can live with.
For me if you can get the iPhone 7 Plus on a decent contract, then with its 4K camera footage and ample performance, I think it’s worth the investment!
8.4Overall9Design9Features9Ease of Use9Performance6Price
Product sourced from Vodafone prices vary depending on the chosen contract.